I was excited to see my friend's Denver-based band, Devotchka, play the Casbah Saturday night. I've known Tom for almost twenty years. I had last seen the band play in Denver on New Year's Eve, when they sold out the 600-seat Oriental Theater.
I'm perpetually early to everything. This time I planned on casually strolling over to the Casbah around 9:30pm. Around 8:30pm I got a call from Amber. She had inside information that only 40 tickets remained, and they were going fast. I hustled down there. Standing in line, the doorman said that the tickets would be gone in a few minutes. I just made it.
The opener was local band, Bunky. It was the first time I had seen them perform. Absolutely amazing. They're my new favorite band. Their song, Heartbunk, may be one of the most hauntingly beautiful songs I've ever heard. But beyond their great songwriting and hooks… beyond Emily's amazing voice… one of the most engaging aspects of the show was the fact that the band was having a great time on stage. Emily's smile and sense-of-humor were infectious… the band's banter entertaining. For me, my enjoyment of a show increases exponentially when I see that the band is enjoying themselves up there. You accompany that with great music and I always leave with a warm fuzzy feeling.
Their CD has been permanently cemented into my car's CD player since Saturday night (FYI… their music is available on iTunes). Personal favorites include the aforementioned Heartbunk, Chuy, Boy/Girl, and Baba. I even have a special fondness for the noisy dissonance of Gotta Pee.
I saw the Cure play in Mountain View five years ago. They sounded great, but there wasn't a smile to be found on stage. I mean, it is the Cure, so this isn't surprising, but I remember leaving the venue feeling largely indifferent.
American Idol gets lots of viewers and attention, but here's what surprises me… it casts its net far and wide, yet it still seems to largely pull in crap. While I'm a random viewer, I'm rarely impressed with any of the talent. However, I can go out to any venue in town, on any night, and always find one band that blows me away. And I'm not just talking about people who have impressed me, but people whose music I would take with me if I was marooned on a desert island. In the last few months I've seen two dozen bands perform and I've encountered many incredibly talented people (Heather Duby, The Hot Toddies, The World/Inferno Friendship Society, Bunky… to name a few). And even better… not only do they sing, but they also play their own instruments and write their own songs. How novel.
I guess the point of this little tangent is that I'd love it if people went out and supported local music. Don't trust MTV or radio to define the contents of your jukebox. Get out and see people play. I think that you'll be surprised and impressed, and you're bound to find your own personal gem.
I got a chance to catch up with Tom before he went on stage. I picked his brain about life on the road and we talked about past, current, and future endeavors. Devotchka provided the soundtrack to the film, Little Miss Sunshine. I'm eager to see the movie.
As usual, Devotchka destroyed the place. They always put on the best live show. You won't find a better group of musicians anywhere.
Now… time for another one of my tangents….
I know that murder is wrong. But there really need to be exceptions. The last couple of shows I've attended there's been that one asshole that thinks the show is about him. I'm fine with people getting into the music and feeling passionate about the experience. But it's another thing when you're just being a distracting attention whore. There was one guy that would randomly appear in front of the stage, only to flail about, acting like he was having an epileptic seizure. He was completely disconnected from the music. I think that it should be legal to put him down. Another guy just kept obnoxiously yelling random stuff like an unfunny class clown. I just wanted to tap him on the shoulder and say, "It's not about you. Fade into the background." Then I would cap his ass.
The second thing… if you're there, please pay relative attention to the band and the music. There is a reason you paid twelve dollars -- to see the band. A couple was basically humping eighteen inches away from me with neither person interested in the music. It was distracting, and not in a sexy way. They thought they were alone in a hotel room with the clock radio turned on. It's one thing to grind in rhythm to the music. It's another to look like you're shooting a late night Cinemax movie. Although I will admit, there are two caveats to this rule… Caveat number one -- the lesbians making out in front of me… kind of hot. It would have been hotter if one of them hadn't been wearing a spiked dog collar and had hair shorter than mine. Caveat number two… if I'm with a woman, I'm free to hump away. It doesn't sound fair, but these are my rules.
Okay, enough talk about humping. My grandma reads this journal for Christ sakes.
Seriously. My grandma reads this journal.
On Sunday I ventured to the Del Mar Racetrack to lay some money down on the ponies.
It was a college alumni event and we were located on the infield. While it was a great place to socialize, it wasn't a good place to see horse racing. At most, only about a quarter of the track was visible. Although the ground level view did provide an interesting perspective. I realized how fast those horses traveled. They blazed around that track.
I've only been to the horse track four times in my life, and the periods are spaced far enough apart that I forgot everything I learned previously. For my first bet, I went with a trifecta box because it's cool to say trifecta. I did no research. I just picked three horses and gave the guy six dollars.
I understandably lost.
I learned the lingo. For the remaining races I picked a horse to show (finish in the top three) and won about a quarter of the time. It's a universal fact that gambling makes everything more interesting. Even though I only laid down $2 for each bet, I found myself riveted to each race. If you ever find yourself restless or bored, just start wagering on stuff. It's like an adrenalin shot to the heart.
My triumph… for the sixth race I picked one horse to place (2nd place or higher) and another to show and both horses cooperated and finished in that order. I collected my massive seven dollars in winnings and plotted the extravagant purchases that would follow. It was a good day.