Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Dose Of Thunder

Great American Music Hall, San Francisco
Feb. 21, 2005

Twas one simple thing that made The Replacements sacred to me. That "thing" was one line from the song 'Hold My Life':

"Drizzle, drazzle, druzzle, drone. Time for this one to come home.." *

The line is from the old t.v. cartoon Tooter Turtle which I LOVED as a child. That simple pop culture reference was enough to make The Replacements near and dear to me. The men don't know, but the music geeks understand.

Whenever I hear The Replacements I'm taken back to the mid-80's and the house where I lived in downtown San Jose, CA.. A 3 bedroom / 1.5 bath number that was only 4 houses from a freeway overpass (if you closed your eyes the 24-7 traffic almost sounded like a river).

Twas a place so filthy when we moved in there were dead mice BAKED to the inside of the stove, since that's where they had died unnoticed weeks / months before. The kitchen was so filthy that we ran a garden hose from the outside and through the kitchen window so we could literally hose it down.

Twas the quintessential music geek bachelor pad. One roommate was a buyer at Tower Records who could kick down with the employee discount. There was a makeshift recording studio in the basement for the roommates' band. A framed picture of The Cowsills (aka the real life inspiration for The Partridge Family) hung on a wall. A KISS Alive II poster hung on another. The 'Mats were a house favorite. Good times on a certain level. Shitty times on others. I was so much older then, I'm younger then that now.

Anyway, about the show:

Twas Westerberg's first performance in S.F. in almost 3 years.. and his first with a band in, I think, NINE YEARS. Wow. To be honest I haven't followed Westerberg's solo stuff since around 1999... But you could cut the music geek energy in the air with a knife every time he and the band launched into a Replacements song. When Paul chimed the intro to 'Skyway' on his acoustic 12-string I swear you could hear grown men squealing with glee like little girls at a Maroon 5 show.

The Wag Man: "I bet there's no one under 30 here tonight.."

Twas the type of show where a lot of faces looked familiar but I couldn't place names or context. Old music geeks had definitely come out of the woodwork. I'm sure there were a lot of past and present record store clerks in The House. Evidently tickets to this sold out gig were going for up to $70 each online. I did recognize the bassist from the Stimmies. I know what you're thinking: "Who??"

The ghost of that old house in downtown San Jose was standing next to me as Westerberg and band walked that tight rope of a careening old school rock band. A band with no brakes going downhill on a twisting gravel road. A band teetering on the verge of losing control.

They false started a cover of Zeppelin's 'Ten Years Gone' but didn't make it past the first verse. That made me grin. They slying covered Dylan's 'Only A Hobo' (found only on Dylan's 'The Bootleg Series Vol. 1-3'). A nice music geek wink. They nailed a cover of The Partridge Family's 'I Think I Love You'. That made me smile. Twas inspiring and fun. You just don't see that kind of Lock 'N Loll very often, if ever, anymore. Talkin' 'bout my ge-ge-generation.

Finally, during 'I Will Dare', Paul did lose it when his guitar gave him problems. Grabbing the body with both hands he swung it back over his head. The tuning pegs drew blood as they hit his scalp, but he smashed the instrument against his amp, snapping the neck off. I actually cringed since I think I recognized the guitar as one he's played since The 'Mats days. It died as it lived, but the small trickle of blood from Paul's head showed it put up a fight.

The show-closing blast of 'Alex Chilton' / 'Left Of The Dial' sent the geek energy off the scale. Twas magnificent and 'Left Of The Dial' STILL gets me "right here" every time:

"Goin' out to San Francisco.. Definately not L.A..."

I tried to do a mental count of how many shows I've seen at the Great American over the years but couldn't do it. On the way back to the car some pimply-faced teenagers called me a fag. Muchas gracias to Creep Dr. for the new C.C. Adcock CD! It truly is a small world after all! I wonder how many folks hummed 'Kiss Me On The Bus' while riding Muni home.

Geek out.

P.S. Driving to work this a.m. and making my way through the streets of S.F.. I'm still riding the buzz from the show and the iPod is playing 'Skyway'. Someone's cute, medium sized, white curly-haired dog bolts into traffic on Park Presidio Blvd. next to S.F. State. It makes it to the middle lane before its blast of silence is administered by a silver mini van. 'Skyway' is still playing as I roll past the dog lying dead in the street. Thanks for the buzzkill, God.... Asshole.

"Elvis in the ground, there ain't no beer tonight.."

* - Thanks to Jim H. for the correction re: the Tutor Turtle mantra!