Saturday, March 18, 2006

Friday Wrap-Up Part Two: Technical Diffies and the Worst Pick-Up Line Ever

OK, so it's 1:30 p.m. local time, I'm back at Halcyon and it's just drizzly enough outside to make me glad I brought my boots. But for some reason either this wall outlet or my cable's not functioning, so I'm al 43% battery power as I type this. So here we go ... got lost walking from the hotel bar gig to Antone's, of course, got turned around twice or three times, asked two pairs of cops -- on astride a horse, so after craning my neck to talk to the guy, I looked straight and was eye level with a pretty brown nag. I petted her nose, thought of Elka. Do mounted police usually ride a specific breed of horse? Because they always seem to be brown to me, and roughly the same size.

At one point I got a text from Pockets, saying he was at Buffalo Billiards with the guys from IMA, waiting to see Dungen, and I looked up to see I was actually standing in front of that place. But the line was off the chain, and Dungen was scheduled to go on in like 15 minutes, so I continued on to my ultimate destination -- Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings at midnight, Neko Case at 1 a.m.

The lines there are bad, too, but the badge line is lessening and I get a good spot, about twenty folks back, on the wristband line. I make friends with a couple of guys on either side of me -- an "undercover indie rocker," i.e., a guy with a straight corporate job, from Austin (the undercover thing's his words, not mine), and a tall, kinda scuzzy kind cute guy from a Nova Scotia band. The latter ends up being pretty cool -- he's dying to see Sharon Jones, and we chat a bit about the 90s Nova Scotia scene, Eric's Trip and Sloan and whatnot. Eventually, they shoo away the ticket-buying line and start letting us in, just in time for me to see the tail end of Marah, the band I'd heard while eating enchiladas at Twangfest. They were a little more interesting tonight, but every song was an easily recognizable amalgam of classic rock saws -- The Band, AC/DC, Meat Loaf, Guns n Roses.

They finish, I squeeze through the crowd for a great spot behind two old guys, a midget and a dude in a wheelchair, and between two photographers -- one very tall and long-haired, quite like a Yeti, and another short and shaved bald, who chats me up with the preposterous line, "You look like you have an open mind. I just had a thought and I'd like your opinion: Have you ever thought about how 'wife' rhymes with 'life'?" Despite the ridiculousness of that, we end up talking for a while, largely because when I tell him why that's such a ludicrous statement, he takes it like a man. I end up watching his bag for him as he scampers all over the place taking pictures of Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings, who are even better than when I saw them in SF some years ago -- the sharp=dressed band (featuring, I believe, members of Antibalas) comprises two saxes, a trumpet, bass, two guitarists, and a drummer, and they wrap us in tight funk for two songs before introducing the fortysomething (fiftysomething) Jones, who tears the joint right the fuck up. She takes off her high heels and her earrings (slipping them into the bassist's suit jacket pocket) to show us how her ancestors -- one side West African, the other Cherokee -- danced, then put'em back on to do some soul favorites, taking them off again to demonstrate the swim, the jerk, the boogaloo, et cetera. But man -- the woman has more style and energy and charisma than most women half her age.

I know, I know, it's a cliché, but the computer's at 36% power now. I'm hurrying through this, and can't even recall the names of the songs she did that I knew. Too much pressure!! And there was this old guy falling asleep on the lip of the stage, and Jones totally gave him some funny love ... and, and, and ... I've got pictures of all Friday's stuff, but don't have time to post them to a site then link them here. Crap. Later.

Neko Case and her band took the stage shortly after 1 a.m. She set up her own stuff, wearing a mismatched Texas tuxedo (denim pants and jacket) and with her massive red hair in a sloppy sideways knot. Both her guitarist and drummer had red hair as well, which I thought was cute. She also had a stand-up bassist, an amazing banjo/pedal steel/lap steel player, and, best of all, two back-up singers: Rachel Flotard (???) and Kelly Hogan (who I've loved since about 1991 or 92, when "Lounge Ax," a song by her first band, The Jody Grind, was a frequent favorite on my college radio show (most of that band, if not all but Hogan, died in a tour van crash). Kelly and Rachel gave the proceedings the requisite girl-group feel (as had the three girls Sharon Jones brought up for one song during her set), and the three had an awesome camaraderie that, as you will see soon, I got a little to into. Oh, and when Neko came out to actually perform, she'd taken down her hair and off her jacket. No makeup, just a bedazzley black shirt and all that freakin' hair.

Songs I recognized/caught the titles of: "If You Knew What I Knew," "Teenage Feeling," "Baby," "Guided by Wire," and a couple of cool murder ballads that she termed "spooky ones, like truck stop Halloween sound effects tape songs."

At one point about 2/3 in, at which point I was practically right up front, there was an exchange that went something like this:
Neko: I'm getting a little bit of camel toe in these jeans, unfortunately.
Rachel: We've got some moose knuckles over here. (I believe this is a Texas thing -- it's the male equivalent, and also the name of a bar, I think.)
Neko: I'm trying not to think about it.
Rachel: It's clam's night out!
Fanny: Jam out with your clam out, ladies!!
Kelly: (polite smirk)

Eventually, Neko said, "We're gonna do one more song, and then we're gonna go offstage and pretend we're done and you're gonna clap and then we'll come back and do some more. It'll be fun." And though I always love when artists acknowledge that farce in one way or another, I was just about dead on my feet at that point, as it was a quarter after two and I still had at least ten blocks to walk. Besides, it wasn't like I was going backstage to hang out after that little appearance by MC Bad Feckle. And besides again, on my way out the door, I heard them begin their encore with "Wayfaring Stranger," a song you can quite literally hear five times daily during this fest. So I left, perpetratin through the convention/weekend/spring break/UT sports victory crowd, and into bed.

And now ... it's 2 p.m. local time, the coffee shop's playing "The Greatest," and I'm going back to the hotel to drop off my laptop and then either go to the Arthur magazine party (Magic Numbers, Witch, Mazarin, Gris Gris, Nethers, Colossal Yes, a few more, some have played already but I don't know who) or to the Yep Roc showcase at Yard Dog to see Billy Bragg at 3:45. One thing's for sure: 14-year-old Fanny will not allow the adult version to miss Susanna Hoffs with Matthew Sweet, either this afternoon at 4:45 at the Pop Matters party at Dog & Duck, or wherever they're playing tonight. On the Pop Matters party flier, Hoffs' name is like 1/3 the size of Sweet's, and I am miffed. What did he do for us? "Girlfriend"? And she? She's at least partially responsible for "James," "All About You," "Goin' Down to Liverpool" (OK, Steve Wynn wrote it, but the Bangle did it better), "Different Light," and a dozen or so more -- not to mention inspiring "Raspberry Beret." So I guess I'll go down there and heckle Matthew Sweet. Just for kicks, ya know?

Also possibly on the menu for tonight: Camera Obscura, IMA, Richard Hawley Acoustic, the Charlatans UK. Oh, and Louisiana at Town Lake, if the rain lets up. Oh, and I saw a listing for ESG, but it's the first I've heard of it, and they're listed as being from Houston, so I'm thinking it's not the real ESG ...?

22% and still goin'. Boo-freakin-ya. Don't know if I'll be able to do this anymore before buying a new power cable -- hopefully it's just this wall outlet. But I've got about 29 hours left in town. So there's more to be seen and said. I'm sure.


Post a Comment

<< Home