Friday, November 30, 2007

Face-melting at its finest

I swear I would probably enjoy live music if it consisted of a band of 13 rabid chimpanzees playing show tunes on six accordions, six sets of bagpipes, and an out-of-tune harpsichord with Tony Danza on lead vocals. I just dig live performance of any kind. Needless to say, Dinosaur Jr. rocked way harder than any diseased, harpsichord-thumping chimp ever dreams to. And chimps dream big, believe me. So does Tony Danza.

Before I tell you about the face melting I received at the hands of indie guitar hero J. Mascis, let me tell you about the Valarium. We had the pleasure last night, along with opening acts 1220 and Awesome Color, of popping the cherry on this new facility. Located in a refurbished old brick warehouse, the Valarium is close to downtown, but surrounded by empty lots that have been turned into ample free parking. Free parking at a concert venue? Who ever heard of such a thing? The inside is decidedly swank, with brand-new everything. Wall to wall carpeting, red drapes covering every wall (for acoustics, I’m sure), state-of-the-art lighting and easy to find restrooms. You could easily cram several thousand onto both the floor and a balcony that featured comfy, bench-style sofa seating with little tables replete with candles. Is this a rock concert or a yuppie tapas bar? Either way, nice touch. Outside to the right of the stage were the bar, featuring an efficient single-file line set-up that eliminated the elbow-throwing usually required to procure a beer from an overwhelmed bartender, and the smoking patio. This brings me to the best part: no smoking inside. That brand-new carpeting should remain free of cigarette burns for some time and I didn’t have to dump my clothes directly into the washing machine when we got home. All around, an impressive debut for whoever sunk some serious cash into opening the Valarium.

On to the rock. 1220, a local act, featured a lead singer in a Rolling Stones t-shirt prone to 80’s-style wailing on songs that, had they been written by Warrant in 1988, would have been Warrant’s best work. Do we need another cock-rock revival band? Did we need any? Not my thing. Awesome Color was more my speed, playing harder and faster, and without the verse-chorus-verse structure that can make a song predictable. Courtney didn’t like them at all. And then came the Dinosaur.

For those who don’t know, Dinosaur Jr. are confirmed elder statesmen of indie rock. They can kick it hard without even trying. With no fanfare or dimming of the lights, J, Lou, and Murph took the stage and assumed their positions: Murph at his drum kit right up front and center, Lou on bass to his left and indie guitar hero J. Mascis on the right, esconced in his horseshoe-shaped six-foot high amphitheater of Marshall amps. The man must like to feel the noise. After a few seconds of adjusting knobs and mic stands and not even a glance of acknowledgement to the crowd, the band launched into an ear-bleeding 14 song performance mixing old and new and hitting all the favorites along the way. Indie guitar hero J. Mascis lived up to his reputation, absolutely slaying us with fast-fingered and soulful axe-work behind his ubiquitous long, silver indie guitar hero locks. Lou played an energetic bass with a peculiar style in which he spent a lot of time high up on the neck of his guitar. Murph, bald head beaded with sweat, beat the hell out of his skins like any good drummer should.

The two-song encore saw the band taking requests from the enthusiastic crowd, although I suspect they already knew what they were going to play. Then again, the guitar tech was standing by with two different guitars for indie guitar hero J. Mascis, which he didn’t end up using, so maybe they really were open to suggestions. The final song was their cover of the Cure’s "Just Like Heaven," which, faithful readers may recall from a few weeks back, is number one on my list of top five songs. Nice finish.

Aside from the drunk Jim Breuer impersonator who stood in front of me for the first half of the show wildly pumping his fist when he wasn’t taking video with his camera and saying stupid shit to his friends like "Dude, that guy with the gray hair is just surrounded by WAAAAHHHHHHH!" (That guy with the gray hair? You must be referring to indie guitar hero J. Mascis. Show some respect, bitch!), it was a freakin’ awesome show.

Lessons learned:
1. If Courtney is at a concert and a space opens up in front of her, she must step forward or Kareem Abdul-Jabbar will move in to fill the void. On your toes, Courtney.
2. Ear plugs are a must. I could actually hear the individual instruments and most of the vocals throughout the show and my hearing is back to 100% this morning. I’d be deaf right now if it weren’t for those 49.5 cents worth of foam.
3. Rock and roll will never die.

With that, NaBloPoMo reaches a hard rockin’ conclusion, but this blog will live on. I may not post every day, but I intend to try because this was just too much fun. Thanks to all who have stopped by and encouraged or criticized with your comments. Keep coming back. I’m taking the weekend off. Maybe.


Courtney said...

I didn't step forward because I was merely trying to preserve my hearing. The earplugs did a world of good, but there's only so much foam can do when you're two feet away from six amps with the volume turned up to 11.

nancypearlwannabe said...

Did the Jim Breuer impersonator sing the Tequila Song over the band? That might have been annoying, too.

Anonymous said...

with the 13 chimps, is tony danza the 13th with 6 playing accordians and 6 paying the bagpipes or is that one of the few slip ups? meg, this is the most writing that i have ever done, even more than you did for me in college and i thank you for all of your "voluntary" help.


Meaghan said...

Well, I would say "what's a friend for," but I only did it because it was a group project and I would have gotten a bad grade otherwise! But I don't hold it against ya!

Noelle said...

Congrats on making it through. You rock!

Blogger, however, they suck because no I can't link my name to my wordpress site. Long live wordpress!

Jacob said...

Your use of a static epithet in reference to J. Mascis is downright Homeric, and becomes quite titillating when used in contrast to Jim Breur's impersonator's less grandiose reference.

I feel the need to sound smarter than I am today. Thanks for reading.

Jacob said...

How many connections do you have with my friends, hightower? You were childhood friends with Mickey. Went to college with Meaghan and apparently knew her pretty well, and now live with Severo. How is it that I have no clue who you are? It's not like the three are inherently linked from having known you at the same time for the same reason.

Julie said...

Great finish Mickey! Super post, really, but what I'm going to think of most is Jacob writing Titillating. That made me giggle.

Chris said...

You refer to this chimp/Tony Danza ensemble as if it would be a bad thing. I think that sounds like an amazing show -- well, for five minutes or so, anyway, just for the absurdity of it.

Congrats on a successful NaPoMoFoJo.

nancypearlwannabe said...

Congrats on finishing strong. You are among the few, the proud, the brave.

What the heck is that from? The Marines? WTF? I don't even know where that came from.

Seriously, though: you rock.

Anonymous said...

this "otherwise" you speak of, i am gussing it has something to do with me. ouch! just kidding, you did what you had to and i honor that drive in you.

i wish i could say i had something to do with it, but i cant take the credit. they just met me and wanted to get to know me better. and be careful on the meg references, chris doesnt need to know about that.


jennyonthespot said...

It seems the best comment I can create is... rock on! :)