Saturday, February 26, 2005

A night in the big city

We interrupt the regularly scheduled cooking/babymaking/conspicuously NOT running programming to bring you this music review:

So Darren and I were wild (for us) last night and headed down to Boston (Somerville, to be exact) to see Gary Louris and Mark Olson, founding members of the Jayhawks, at the Somerville Theatre. It's a two-hour drive down, so a bit ambitious for a Friday night when you've got to drive home bleary-eyed and loopy afterwards. Which is exactly what I did.

We bailed out of work at three, and after assorted preparations and scurrying, we made it to the Alewife T station by 5:30, and were in Davis Square in a matter of minutes. I miss Boston a bit -- I lived there for a year while I was in grad school -- the city is so human-sized and easy to deal with. Heck, in Somerville they even make cars stop for pedestrians in the crosswalk -- and the cars actually do stop!

We were tempted by Indian food, but then wandered past one of the many Anna's Taqueria shops that dot the Boston area, and just couldn't pass it up. The burritos are cheap -- dinner for two came to $12! -- and the guacamole is fresh. You can't ask for more, especially when you live in southern Maine, which has a distinct paucity of passable Mexican food. We created a cultural mashup when we followed the burritos with a Guinness at the Burren, a big old Irish bar.

As for the show itself... it was a bit disappointing. There were high expectations all around on this one -- heck, we'd driven two hundred miles round-trip for it, which immediately establishes a certain expectation of quality, besides which seeing the reunion of the founding members of this seminal alt-country band was supposed to be a religious experience.

I've seen the Jayhawks twice post-Olson, and they've been great. But this show was supposed to Kick Ass. And it just didn't. Louris stood there like a mannequin, only his strumming hand and his lips moving, while Olson cavorted around the stage and made odd remarks about their boychild drummer and geezer fiddler. Olson also played not one, not two, but three kinda funny, kinda bizarre songs about George Bush and Donald Rumsfeld. Which, if you ask me, is more than enough for one night.

There were moments, though, that were excellent, when Olson and Louris' harmonies were soaring on old Jayhawks tunes --- songs that made me realize how naked Louris' voice sounds without Olson on the last several albums. And then they blew it with the most half-assed, crappy version of "Settled Down Like Rain" that I could imagine. What a bummer.

Still, I'm glad we made it down there -- it reminded us that, while draining (we just got up a half hour ago), Friday nights in Boston are totally doable. We realized that parking in Cambridge is much easier than our previous option at the end of the Blue Line (near the dog track, at a station called Wonderland - how can you resist it?). And we managed finally to catch up with a group of fellow Portlanders who were down for the show, too.

Now, back to round two on the taxes. Yeehaw.