I flew out of work yesterday. I am too used to going to general admission shows. It never occurred to me that camping out would not get me a better seat.
It has been years since I was at Radio City for anything. To give a sense of time, the last thing I saw there was Disney's worldwide premiere of The Black Cauldron.
After a few minutes of antsy waiting around, murnkay showed up, tickets in tow. We shot the shit for a bit, then went to Heartland Brewery for something to eat. We hit the line just as the doors opened. The crowds were big, but the lines moved very well.
The lobby had been filled with memorabilia stands, mini bars, and a live band (which turned out to be none other than Ray Lamontagne and Rebirth Brass Band)
We sat inside and waited for a bit. They were playing some great classic jazz while we waited. I forgot how plush Radio City was. Plus, grimbil was right, there is really no such thing as shitty seats at Radio City.
Humorously (or not) as the show was emceed by Hank Azaria. He had some weak jokes, and a pretty tenuous connection to Neo Orleans (he apaprently had a summer house out there). He did take some nice shots at the establishment though.
From there on in, there was pretty good music. The opening act was Ray Lamontagne and Rebirth Brass Band, who came in from where they were playing outside. There were some flapper-dressed eye candy dancers, as well as a bunch of contest winners that danced off on the side of the stage for their whole set. Hearing some good old fashioned NO style band music/funk was a great way to kick off.
This set was followed up by Galactic w/the Wild Magnolia Gras Indians. They played some phenoninal funk, and the Magnolias doused the crowds with beads, tambourines, and lots of hip gesticulation. Nobody was sitting still in their seats.
They followed up this act with a solo three piece set by Trey Anastasio. His whiny "I Wish So Bad I was Bob Dylan" stylings were mostly lost to me by the development in the seats in front of me. Now, one thing I love about concerts is the mini-anthropological communal phenomena one can witness as crowds gather in front of good music in the dark. The two girls in front of us had an in with a bar back downstairs. He plied them with several bottles of champagne, a case of beer, a bottle of vodka and tequila, and later, a bottle of wine. murnkay and I had been discussing earlier the potential for the crowd to kinda suck, because the venue was so upscale.
We could not have been more wrong. Booze flowed freely from this comped couple, and people lit up all around us (both cigs and "special smoke") It was so much, in fact, that it became painfully clear that the ventilation system was not going to be able to hold up under the onslaught. This will become important later on.
Following the real downer act was The Meters, who hadn't been back in NYC for many years. They played a fantastic set, and really picked the groove back up. Again, there was much dancing inthe aisles. The girls finished off their fourth bottle of champagne, and started in on the beers to be passed around. Amstel light, by the way, tastes like bubbly pee.
Unfortunately, this royal act was followed by the John Mayer Trio. I tried. I really did. I made it through half a song, then went to buy a drink. Fortunately, I missed their whole set. Unfortunately, that means I also missed Joss Stone's solo appearance, where she did a duet with Mayer. Perhaps it is for the best.
There was a surprise guest. Bubba Clinton showed up. He was in so much spotlight though, he was tough to photograph.
Then? The intermission from hell. A half hour of dead time. Not cool. The ventilation system was dying. It was, actually, the antithesis of cool - moist and warm. Radio City smelled like a bayou. I began to notice the pileup of glass bottles and whatnot all over the place. Though Radio City did an admirable job throwing this benefit together on short notice, they clearly didn't think things through particularly carefully.
After what seemed like a looong time, Azaria came back out, and started gabbing again.
When he finally started to shut up is when the magic happened.
Holy shit, this man live was everything I expected.
He played a strong set, and was on for about 45 minutes. Unfortunately, whoever was running the soundboard was a total fuckchop. Tom almost walked offstage at one point, when he sat down to play a song, and the feedback nearly dropped him on his ass.
He didn't. He rocked the house. His voice was an electric shard of glass, and I was slowly impaled for 40-odd minutes through the gut - into the spine.
- Down in the Hole
- Jesus Gonna Be Here
- Get Behind the Mule
- Murder in the Red Barn
- Take Care of My Children
- I Wish I was in New Orleans
- House Where Nobody Lives
He encored with
- Make it Rain
Now, the only hedge on my extacy was the two girls who had previously been a very positive thing. Now, rebelliously drunk, they revealed their true colors. One of them was a Tom Waits fangirl.
A loud, drunken Tom Waits Fangirl.
She was wildly gesticulating for msot of his set, with a bottle of champange in hand. She screamed, often, at the top of her lungs, for extended periods. I was whooping too - I don't mind screaming. She was screaming "Take off your Clothes!"
She had several loud drunken conversations with her friends around her, over her disappointment that Waits would not take off his clothes.
She persisted, hoping that somehow, volume would make it happen.
Happily, she broke off to pee for the encore. That, which was probably one of his best performed pieces of the evening, was happily without interruption.
Even with drunken fangirl interaction, Waits' performance was spellbinding.
We exited the building after a short bathroom break, ignoring Dave Matthews altogether. There was an underage kid who had puked in the bathroom lounge, who was in the process of getting arrested. I didn't want to get in the middle of the tangle, honestly, since he could have left the scene, as there were no cops involved. I was too much on a Waits high. murnkay and I stumbled outside for a smoke, reveling in the glow.
There, I literally ran into Stewart D'Arrietta, whose show, Belly of a Drunken Piano L. had bought tickets to a few weeks ago. I did the gawker fan thing, and introduced myself. Ironically, I had been explaining how much I enjoyed his show to murnkay earlier in the evening. Amusingly, he was in a similar state, having never seen Waits live either, which blew my mind, given the quality of his production. He is in town for several more weeks. I fully intend on going back - YOU SHOULD GO SEE IT IF YOU HAVE NOT. Stewart apparently is now back to a full two hour set, and even offered to buy me a beer. After shooting the shit for a few minutes, we split, and rode the long train home, basking in the glory of a live Waits performance.
To people who have known me a long time, you understand what that night meant to me. To people who don't, this sits on the level of a lifetime achievement. It was the closest thing to a true religious experience I have ever had.
You can read murnkay's recap here.
Best 50$ I ever spent.