Since Science Girl still isn’t quite 100%, we wanted to get down to the Croc early in order to secure a place for her to sit down between sets. Well, we were really early; while we were eating dinner, we heard both bands running through their soundchecks. Also, if we wanted to, we could have accosted each and every member of both bands as they wandered around trying to find dinner for themselves. Fortunately for them, we chose instead to just smile and nod as they passed. (I think I may have smiled a little too broadly at Kristen Hersh as she passed our table, since she gave me a sorta “I’m scared of you” nervous look in return.)
So 50 Foot Wave opened the show. Their set was way too short, but then I guess that’s part of the whole “opening” thing, isn’t it? Still, I wish they’d been able to play “Vena Cava” and “Petal”… They sounded quite good, even when Bernard Georges accidentally turned off his bass toward the end of one song. And they played “Dog Days” and “Clara Bow” (“Yes / alright / I can / through sunburned lips I can bitch / about another stupid summer”), so that was good. We were close enough to the stage to see Kristen’s neck bulge when she does the scary voice. What I found a little disconcerting is that her eyes don’t squinch up, as I’d expected them to; her face is totally placid during the “You know what? / You know what? / You know what? / SHUT THE FUCK UP!!” bit during “Pneuma”, for example, which kinda wigs me out a little. So I guess Kristen and I are even on that score, then.
Mission of Burma… well, they were pretty great, as advertised. A long, loud set from them. (My ears were ringing the next day, even though I faithfully wore my Rock & Roll Ear Protection.) These guys are all pushing fifty, if they haven’t already crashed on through that l’il barrier, and yet they throw down like a band half their age. Well, yeah, most bands of 25-year-olds don’t take a ten-minute break between sets, but most of ‘em don’t play two full sets, plus two encores, in a night, either. Plus, Clint Conley broke a string on his bass. To paraphrase Mike Watt, those things are like bridge cables.
They hit all the older bits you’d expect – “That’s When I Reach For My Revolver”, “Academy Fight Song”, “That’s How I Escaped My Certain Fate”, etc. – plus highlights from the last two call-‘em-comebacks-if-you-must records, and a couple of songs I didn’t recognize. Sue me. It was, as the kids say, all good.
On record, it’s often Conley’s bass that makes it for me – which is not to take anything away from Roger Miller’s guitar wackiness or Peter Prescott’s stellar drumming, at all. I just dig his very distinctive style of playing. Anyway, when they play live, the mix balances out a bit more, or maybe I’m just more focused on the totality of the sound than on the lower end. Either way, go see them if their current West Coast tour comes anywhere near you.
I stopped at the merch table on the way out and picked up The Horrible Truth About Burma, since I’ve wanted to get it for awhile, and Free Music, since I’d downloaded it from the band’s page and wanted to pay them for it.
Then we went home and went to bed. The end.
Oh, earlier tonight SG uploaded some pictures she took at the show. Do check them out, won’t you?