Monday, September 8, 2008

Black Eyed Susies

Is my new favourite band this week. I saw them at a bar called Castaways that had a vaguely nautical feel, despite the fact that we are about 230 miles away from the ocean. The nautical feel wasn't overwhelming, it was just enough to feel a little desperate. Mostly it was just a bar for locals, which was what I had been looking for. It was the after party for something called Beerfest, which I had not gone to, not being able to afford the luxury of a ticket. I'm such a cheapskate lately - I made us go an hour early, to avoid a cover charge (I'm cheap about cover charges in general though, I think paying more than $5 to get in somewhere is exorbitant and won't do it unless there is live music in the place that I know I want to see, because then I can equate it as a ticket price in my head) and I nursed my beer for as long as I could, before breaking down and buying another one.

The headlining band was terrible. I didn't stay for them, I only know they were awful based on their 50 minute sound check. They were called Hubcap and were so unoriginally poppy that they were boring. Not a creative spark in a one of them and they took themselves so seriously that it was palpable. There is nothing worse than a pop band that takes themselves too seriously. You're playing pop music. I mean really - you're whinging away on your guitar, playing at a bar, not quite in the downtown neighbourhood of Ithaca, NY where the words "Men" and "Women" are written in rope on the bathroom doors - how seriously should you really take yourself? It was a little painful because I could also tell how nervously excited they were to be playing a show, almost like a 16 year old boy going on a date where he's pretty sure he's going to get laid for the first time. I'm sure that was why they took 50 minutes to do their sound check - probably mistaking their nervousness for appropriate anal retentiveness that "real musicians" should have.

Give me the gritty old timers or at least people who play old time that are just happy to be playing their music whereever they might happen to be. On the side walk, on someone's porch, just for the joy at plucking those strings. I saw a homeless man in Santa Barbara once with my friend John Henry. We sat and watched him play slide guitar for an hour on the boardwalk.

The Black Eyed Susies were refreshing after that terrible sound check. They showed up, late, got up on stage, played one song to check their vocals and then after a short break, put up a tight, polished performance. 3 women having a great time, just happening to be in front of an audience, playing mountain music and blues on the banjo, upright bass and guitar.

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