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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Good Friends, Good Times and the Old 97's (Part One)
or feeding my unquenchable obsession

Okay, so this past week I had the ginormous pleasure (read indulgence) to witness not one, but three Old 97's concerts.


My favorite foursome were booked all week in the East Coast, including the fabled Asbury Park gem and storied Springsteen haunt, The Stone Pony. The July 10th vacation week at the Special K was available and I actually entertained the notion of taking it, but five shows in a row? Dude, that seemed crazy-excessive even for me. The Pony was tempting though, man. As it turns out it was so oppressively hot and humid there, I probably would have perished in a pool of my own precious bodily fluids.

So my week of musical merriment began at Baltimore's Ram's Head Live. My bud, Steph and her cousin, Dave picked me up at the airport and we headed directly to the venue in time to meet up with other familiar faces from past shows. Unlike the last time when we met up with the band prior to the show for web business and such, this time we were just fans, staking our claim in the crowd between Ken and Rhett, singing our throats raw and dancing our butts off with our fellow 97's flock.

Holy Crap it was a blast.

They launched into a high-energy, three-song set of No Simple Machine, Dance Class and perennial sing-along favorite, Niteclub to get the crowd rolling. The new stuff is so fantastic live. The sheer magnitude of force behind the combo Marquita/ Bright Spark will just rock your face off. Magnificent.

Couple that with Please Hold On, Trainwreck, Four Leaf Clover and Barrier Reef and you've got the recipe for a happy, hoppy, bellowing crowd. The masses sang their hearts out at Barrier Reef, Big Brown Eyes and Rhett's encore break acoustic Come Around. I never tire of hearing the entire room taking the reins of their songs. I can only imagine how fucking awesome it is for Rhett to hear 500+ voices echoing back his brilliant verses.

Did you catch Rhett's look of absolute delight as the venue became one unit on his final chorus?

Not only does Stoned win for the best non-rap use of the words dope and fly, but check out the dude's ball cap in front of me. It totally looks like a mustacheod man singing, right?

You can't see anything else other than that hat face now, can you. Sucka!

Right before White Port, Ken who's usually silent on stage, invited the audience to join him at a bar of their choosing.

When the dust settled and the screaming had stopped, Cat's Eye Pub in Fell's Point was the winner. So after having our Rock souls sated and being drenched in sweat, our own as well as Rhett's (I know, you'd think that'd be gross, but it's totally not), we ventured over to the bar. Lo and behold, Ken and Murry actually showed up! How cool are they, huh?

The pub seemed like an odd choice following the raucous evening of musical mayhem we'd just witnessed, what with it's quieter, old-man jazz trio perched on an elevated 4 x 5 stage, but the bar was the perfect place for chatting up a favorite musician.

Ken, who has a bad rap for being surly, was having a great time holding court with his adoring fans and enjoying the company of young lasses. Murry was fielding questions and accepting beers from his own crowd of ecstatic followers.

And then I nearly kissed the pavement.

That's right. Miss Grace almost fainted right there in front of a bona fide rock star. Yep. Not enough O's in smooth. The whole evening I had this nagging feeling I was forgetting something, you know, but what?

Tickets: check. Camera: check. Money: check. As my vision began to tunnel, and voices started to echo, it hit me.

FOOD, asshat.

Seems the notion of feeding my gullet had escaped me for the last 12 hours. Did you know Vodka tonics are not on the food pyramid? What?!?

So I stumbled out of the bar and did ye olde head-between-my-knees while leaning against the car, drinking water so thoughtfully provided by Stephanie. Murry, being the sweetheart he is, came out to make sure I wasn't expiring on the streets of Charm City. The three of us ended up sitting in the Steph's car with the air blasting, Murry in back.

So we're sitting there (me recovering slower from my humiliation than the fainting spell) and people start rapping on the car window to talk to Murry. Hands down the funniest lean-in was a bald-headed, heavily tattooed dude who, thinking we were burning a doobey or two stated, "why, this car doesn't smell at all like weed."  Hilarious!

We rejoined the party inside, hung out until after last call then headed to bed 24 hours after I'd started the day. All's well that ends well, especially if you don't reverse gears on your new summer shoes.

Rock and Roll, BABY!!

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