Don’t make it dirty. I know that’s hard if you’re at all fagmiliar with my shenanigans, so I don’t blame you.
Maybe I should title this Bookends? Nope. That doesn’t work either.
And really, this turns out to be a surprise triple-header, anyway – if we carried the analogy through to the end. Does that ever happen in sports? I don’t know anything about it, really. I went to a double-header baseball game last summer, but that was just for my dad…and after a couple innings, meh.
Boys in stretchy tight pants only go so far as far as my attention is concerned. It’s like, how many times do you want to consecutively have the same thought as Bill Murray in Caddyshack?
Wow. I’ve wandered rather far afield. Shocker.
What was I saying?
Oh, yes. The double-header.
A couple months ago, my local radio station got a new DJ – Iris. She does the 8-midnight. At 9 pm she does a new music feature where listeners are encouraged to give it a thumbs up or down vote and maybe you’ll win a pair of concert tix for your effort. This particular night she was giving away Barns Courtney tickets at the Wonder Ballroom.
While I was there, I decided to enter my name into the guest list drawing for the band’s appearance in the station’s Live Music Lounge, figuring my chances of being one out of ~100 winners was better than the one out of one winners for the show at the Wonder.
Remember, this is all happening against a backdrop of the country losing its mind over a Power
bottomball jackpot that built to $2.04B, so odds and chances were on my mind.
Well, a day or two later, I get an email from the station.
That’s right. I was the one of one winner!
And if the title hasn’t clicked into place yet, a couple days later I got the email telling me I was on the list for the lunchtime show in the Live Music Lounge, too!
Well, the on-air talent that hosts the events in the LML usually warm the crowd up with a little trivia, prizes are…concert tickets.
I wasn’t particularly interested in the first couple bands because I don’t really know them. The Barns Courtney show was enough adventure in expanding my musical palate since I couldn’t name a song of his off the top of my head. I always like them when I hear one, but it’s just not in heavy rotation. Musically, I’d put him somewhere between Cage the Elephant and The Heavy.
The third question offered tickets to Arcade Fire, which is a band I’d love to see…but it’s in Shittatle. But the fourth question offered an opportunity to stay home and see a great hometown band: Modest Mouse. So up went the hand, and – thanks to my knowledge of arcane news from New Mexico circa 1947 – I won.
The answer was a weather balloon incident, by the way.
Turns out, they would have also accepted alien crash-landing, but c’mon.
Then it was showtime.
These guys took the stage and I found out that they don’t fuck around.
Barns Courtney came out last wearing all off-white, down to him platform boots. Even the sunglasses, long beads and scarf he accessorized with were off-white. Only the (hopefully faux) fur betrays the color scheme – but it really brought the outfit together.
This guy definitely dressed like a rockstar. And his mouth looks like proof that somewhere Steven Tyler’s or Mick Jagger’s blood line has mixed with Carly Simon’s.
This is a small venue. Smaller than small. Barns Courtney filled the space with his persona.
Physically, the stage barely held the four of them and their drum kit and took up an entire wall of the room. In Barns Courtney, apparently if you don’t play drums you’re required to play guitar – so add three of those to the mix.
Seriously, this is at least 20% of the space –
This band is everything you want from a rock band. Literally, sex (look at them), drugs (you had to hear the interview to understand) and rock-and-roll (obvs).
Here’s a dump of the other pics I snapped during the show.
I have to say, this five-song set left me both sated and ready to finish out my work day and eager to see what they could do in a full venue. As showtime drew nearer, I debated not going to the show. I had a friend lined up to go, but they’d backed out – no doubt for a chance to get dicked down if their current track record is any indication. Indickation?
There was another friend who’d accepted an invitation I hadn’t extended who I knew was disappointed to not be going, but I just opted to go alone. I’ve been in a weird space lately anyway, so being in a crowd was likely going to overwhelm my tolerance for people without adding in the feelings and needs of someone I know.
I forced myself out of the house. First the the local watering hole for a pre-show drink. I shocked everyone there by closing out when my beer arrived, which only made me want to stay. But I’d had my motivator-slash-reward, so across the water I went, entering the venue about 815 for the 830 show.
An opening band. Who knew? I was not expecting that. I honestly didn’t think Barns Courtney was big enough to warrant an opener. So that was my Today I Learned moment.
They were a foursome of kids from Oakland. I mean kids – I swear they weren’t old enough to drink, even though I also swear I saw one of them tipping back a beer as they broke down the stage after their set. He was also doing it while carrying the pad from under his drum kit under one arm and the stool he’d been seated on, which had a water bottle balanced on it.
That right there is a dexterity that barely outlasts one’s teen years: first you’re all gangly and uncoordinated as you recover from your puberty growth spurt, then you’re running around doing impossible feats that lead to the words “Hey, watch this!” escaping your mouth and then you’re dead. Either because your last words were “Hey, watch this!” or you hit 30 and life is figuratively over.
Anyway, these kids were surprisingly good for an opener. Kinda a one-key sound, but the drummer and guitar players put on a show to offset the lead singer’s narrow range. I’m not complaining, that one-key was reminiscent of some Deathcab/Postal Service songs.
Nothing to complain about there.
But the highlight of their stage presence – and further
indictment proof of their youth was the statement “Thanks to Uncle Kevin for letting us stay at his place tonight”. These kids aren’t even old enough to rent a hotel room. Haha. Ha.
Then the headliners room the stage.
Well, first their stagehand spent 40 minutes dicking around with equipment, making sure everything was just so. Their name – intentionally keeping pronouns neutral for them, dressed masculine-ish, but if I learned anything from Shakira, it’s that hips don’t lie – is Sexy Patrick. I’d been introduced to them at the afternoon show when they brought out a guitar for Barns Courtney and picked up their discarded sunglasses from the stage floor and got a load of what I hope was good natured teasing. Sexy Patrick demurred the attention, but it’s hard to know why. The nice thing is that you got some insight into the process behind putting a show on. Maybe I shouldn’t refer to it as dicking around, but I was getting a little antsy as the venue filled up with people who apparently knew there was an opening act. I had chosen my spot intentionally.
I think it’s there so people don’t accidentally get pushed down the stairs right there. Maybe it’s there to provide grumpy old men like me a place to stand alone amongst strangers – without being too amongst. Who knows?
For the second time that day, I watched Barns Courtney take the stage for a show. Well, the band took the stage. Drummer and the two guitar players proceeded onto the stage and settled in. As soon as they beat out the first couple of notes, Barns Courtney exploded onto the stage. Seriously, from behind a curtain at the back of the stage, he leapt in a seemingly blind fashion onto the stage.
“How does he do that without falling?!?” – Me
It’s not accurate to say that this was the least dangerous thing he or the band did all night, but my curiosity for how or what they could do with a full-sized stage was definitely answered over the next 60-plus minutes.
And I’ll tell you now that my camera skills are not fast enough to catch the antics. As if the quality of my photography didn’t make that obvious. I did manage to catch one of the guitar players on top of a speaker, though.
It doesn’t come through as well as when they were both on speakers at opposite ends of the stage. Or when Barns Courtney stood on the drum kit. Stood. This was a sustained position, not a hop up and get pulled back down by gravity moment. He maintained position until he was done with his musical moment and then leapt back to the stage.
In platform boots.
Pretty amazing showmanship from these fellas.
They’ve got the talent and presence to have a long career together – like the potential father of the lips bands. But who knows what the future holds? I don’t see 20-something musicians (or any Gen Z-er) having the discipline to maintain a lifelong relationship of any kind, even if it involves fame and fortune. But I’ll definitely remember these shows for a good long time.
I’d had a good enough time, and even though I’d gotten Doris Day parking – I was ready to go. I’d heard every song I thought I knew, so I started heading for the back when what felt like the final song began. I don’t know if they did an encore or not – but I had to stop in spite of my grumpy old self before I hit the doors just to appreciate how this guy whipped his audience up.
I don’t see how this larger than life persona could be brought to you by anything but exactly the right amount of cocaine – but I’m glad o got to witness it.
Two weeks until Modest Mouse – with a potential for a short set by Noah Kahan next week in the Live Music Lounge. I’m eager to see how this year of mostly free entertainment wraps up!!
I know. Me…excited about life.