John’s Review of Chicago Gig
I met Jen Gruhl, a fan whom I had met online before, at the Pontiac Cafe, which is next door to the Double Door, at about 8 pm on Saturday night. This cafe was hosting a political rally for Rockford Register endorsed Rich Witney, the Green Party Candidate for the Governor of Illinois. There was music from a small band and people milling about. The fun part was that there were politcal rally signs throughout the cafe. I suggested someone grab one and modify it since it said “Green Party” on it. I think it was Jen’s boyfriend ultimately did the dastardly deed of absconding with one. (Sorry about the petty theft Rich. 14 percent in the polls is stellar for a Green Party candidate, but I would have to go with DFL candidate Blogojevich who is tracking at 44 percent.) The Green Party signs were literally a sign that I was in the right place. If that wasn’t enough, accross the street from the Double Door is a dry cleaners named Greener cleaners. Wow. This was too ridiculous.
Green and company were doing there soundcheck when I arrived so we could actually see and hear them a little. See the video section for a little snippet.
I then met several fans outside the Double Door. Some I knew from the Yahoo group and bibbly-o-tek.com. I met a guy named Gary, and his wife, who’s name I forget, sorry. They are also from the Minneapolis area (my hometown as well.) Many congratulatory remarks were made to me about my involvment of these Scritti web projects, and I said thanks for noticing. Someone said I was da man…I replied that Green was the man and thats why we were there. I am just a guy who learned to type in 8th grade. I can’t really even write…too many run on sentances. I digress.
A little after 9 pm they opened the doors and let us in. Green appeared out of nowhere and just started saying hi to people as we were streaming in. A small line formed and he shook hands and spoke with everyone. I was caught off guard because I expected this towards the end. With my Cupid & Psyche Laserdisc that I got from a fan in Japan in hand, I got in line, too. A few moments later I was stuttering to Green about my work on the web and handed him a 4 DVD set of all of the videos I had ever collected. I made my own “3 Decade Box Set” with Photoshop and titled it Scritti Politti Confetti. I don’t know if he will ever watch it, as he tends to look ahead, not back, but perhaps he will offer it up as entertainment for the new band members. Later in the evening, I spoke with Ralph and he was born in 1985 so I doubt he has ever seen these videos. Perhaps they have a DVD player on the tour bus. Good for some laughs perhaps.
Green said he had never seen the Laserdisc before, in fact didn’t know it existed. It is the rarest SP item I have I think. So I asked him to sign it after chatting with him for a little while. “To John, Love Green” was scribed at the top in my pre-calculated green Sharpie marker. Cool. After a few moments of that indulgence I left, making sure all had a chance to talk with the man. After order a beer, I heard Green call my name from across the bar which freaked me out for a nano-second. “Hey John,” he projected. “Green actually knows me by name,” I thought. “Can we use the green Sharpie?” Of course I gave him the pen. Jen Gruhl had her rendering of Green from the Cupid and Psyche era signed then.
Jeffrey Lewis was pretty politcal and pretty funny. I enjoyed him for a few minutes, but got bored too quickly. I was more interested in chatting with Scritti fans at that point. Otherwise I might have watched more of him. Interesting politcal stuff. Neat that Nonesuch Records teamed him up with Scritti.
I met up with Matt, a really nice Chicagoan that I recently be-friended. He was wearing a Tinseltown to Boogiedown shirt. That is how I recognized him. Dave, the drummer was sitting at a table during Jeffrey Lewis’s opening, and I was going to try to meet him then, but he left to hook up with the rest of the band. The bar was filling up and no chairs were left so I grabbed the table he was sitting at and relaxed my tired feet (from walking around downtown trying to find the Virgin Megastore.) Not a moment passed is whehn I saw Matt in his shirt.
After chatting for a few moments, Matthew said here they come, and oops…Green fell down on stage. Green rambled something about his entrance and I started to shoot some video on my Powershot camera. Missed the fall, oh well.
Ok, now onto the music. Wood Beez really hit me hard. It was later in the evening, but it really rocked great. Word Girl and Sweetest Girl were really fun. Boom Boom Bap was incredible. I caught myself thinking, usually I go away from concerts thinking, well that was nice, but the studio record was better. Not this time. Not the case at all. The concert was sooo good, it was better than the album on CD. My friend Matt said he saw them at the bowling alley in London. He thought this was much better. They were far more polished and prepared. Plus, Rhodri was not at the gig at the bowling alley in London. So that’s it. Rhodri is the real rock and roll star here! :)
Brushed with Oil was fun and D to O was really fun. Since this isn’t an album track anywhere, I hadn’t really understood it. Alyssa was beaming during this part of the concert. I could tell she was having a great time. She rapped in some song, I can’t remember if it was Hands Up or was it Come Clean? Or ??? Dave took the bass over and she rapped during this one. I think she was used to having her hands on the bass or the keyboard, so she started a little dance to do something with her hands since they were empty. I was up front so I saw her do this. It was subltle but fun. I don’t know if anyone else caught her. Sadly, she stopped because she was quite good.
I got a picture with her later that night. A stunning woman and she seems so charming without even trying. I told her I wanted my picture taken with her because she was the best bass player in the industry.
I also spoke with Rhodri a bit and got my picture with him too. I also got an autograph from him on my Unreleased tracks CD. Rhodri rocks!
Matt gave me a lift back to my hotel, which was very gracious of him to offer since I could have taken a cab and it was out of his way. I suspect it was the begining of a great relationship. Super nice guy. Entering the expressway was a sign that said “Wait here for Green.” Usually red means stop and green means go, but these were metered lights that usually flashed yellow. If it was green, you are supposed to stop anyway…US traffic lights…nevermind. Funny sign that Matt spied as we got on the expressway. It was at that point I realized. They didn’t do Am I Right in Thinking or Locked. My personal faves. But they did close with Petracocadollar. Nice.
At the airport the next morning I saw Gary and his wife on the same flight I was. I am sure it won’t be the last time I see him either. He lives just minutes from my office in Minneapolis.
Lastly, although I didn’t here it from Green, many fans were mentioning that Green and David Gamson might work together again from something Green said that evening. I suspect David and/or Fred’s involvement will be around producing like Anohomie and Bonhomie. But then again, some band members talk about going back to their regular jobs in December…The future will tell us the truth I guess. Godspeed to you Mr. Gartside. This sounds like a cliche, but it exceeded my expectations. I eat white bread, drink black beer and bleed Green. Wow! That was way too corny. Thanks for reading this sappy stuff, because I was getting cavities from all of the sweetness.