I had a beer with a guy to ascertain his non-craziness and fitness to volunteer to run a friend's literary magazine's website. The mid-afternoon drinking was just the push that I needed to return home for a late-afternoon nap.
As if that weren't excitement enough for one day, I caught up with Samantha & her entourage at Neumo's for the KEXP Yule Benefit and managed to see all of the bands: the Divorce, Mark Gardener, Harvey Danger, Okkervil River, and the Wrens. Out of this pack of fantasticness, I was least thrilled with Mark Gardener, but maybe that's just in comparison. Or because I couldn't match the enthusiasm of the small large woman in front of me during their performance. KEXP does bring out the appreciation howlers. Speaking of crowd behavior my favorite part of the evening was when a group shoved their way behind us and then complained loudly in my ear about what a jerk I was being for leaving eight inches of space between me and the people in front of me. Later, they found their way to more spacious quarters. By the time the the Wrens played, the larger haired among the women [flickr] was thoroughly drunk and very excited about the performance. So much so that the spent the hour jumping up and down on the feet of the girl behind her and shaking her hair back and forth and into my eyes.
But really, the bands were great enough to tolerate annoying superfans. I think that the last time I saw the Divorce, it was at the crappiest venue at Bumbershoot, leaving me with a less than excellent impression of the band. Coupled with the slightlier poppier turn of their new album, this show at Neumo's more than made up for any underappreciation on my part. As if reunited, releasing their album on the internet, funny Sean Nelson Harvey Danger weren't good enough on their own, the band passed out Satsuma oranges as their way to fight against the war on Christmas*. And Okkervil River, whose "Black" is responsible for banishing "Since U Been Gone" from my most infectiously overplayed track of the moment, brought a batch of intense and earnest in all the right ways sort of americana. I think that I came up with the good parts of Ryan Adams and Conor Oberst point before reading a similar comparison in Pitchfork, but alas. They didn't even have time to play the song that required a little mystery string instrument that occupied the floor for the entire set, tempting the audience. (All in all, the bands brought quite a collection of specialty instruments to the stage: there was a violin, a cello, a trumpet, a old tape player, an accordion, some sleigh bells, and even some decorative lights.) Finally, the Wrens, while being on the emotionally-needy side of stage craziness (sing along! let's have a drum circle onstage! let's wear a giant parka! let's climb to the top of the speakers [flickr]!) and inspiring my nemesis's hair attacks happen to be really quite good.
On the way out, I tried to buy one of the KEXP posters, but they had sold out of them. Milling about on the sidewalk, thinking about braving the Frites line, I noticed someone walking to her car with a stack of posters. I must have had my nice guy sad face on because when I asked if she had any left for sale, she smiled and gave me one for free. Awesome, right? It gets about one hundred times better because it was one of the posters that everyone from the show had signed [flickr]. Not wanting to introduce the possibility of grease stains to the poster, I happily went home without my fries.
* when I got home, I went to bed listening to the BBC World Service. One of the segments was about this "War on Christmas". This is quite possibly the most idiotic thing that I've heard about in months. The proponent for saying "Merry Christmas" on the show was a guy who felt that since that all of the spending that takes place is all because of the Baby Jesus it's bad form not to mention him by name. And, pretty much everyone is Christian anyway; so who cares? Luckily, I was able to fall asleep before I let it drive me to kill myself at the thought that this stupid right-wing talking point had turned into a semi-legitimate international news item.