Saturday, May 07, 2005

Staying out late

Back in the day, I was a big fan of rock shows in clubs. I spent much of my early 20s sucking down cheap beers and hollering at loud bands. I moshed quite a bit, and even dated a guitarist here and there. Then, as I got older, my tastes turned more toward folk, and the venues got subdued along with the guitars. The last several concerts I've attended have been held in theaters or those New England church basements that somehow turn into music venues. Great for acoustics, but not so good for the image of oneself as a hip, of-the-moment person.

Last night, S. and I took a little trip in my personal time machine when we saw Kathleen Edwards, a 26-year-old Canadian singer/guitarist/hot chick; you may have heard her latest single, "Back to Me," or "Six O'Clock News," the breakout single from her first album, Failer. (That is, you may have heard them if you live in a city with a great public radio station like WFUV or WXPN... or if you are lucky enough to actually have a commercial radio station that has found money to be made in playing real music by grownups (with the occasional detour into lots and lots of Jackson Browne.))

The show, which was held at a gen-yoo-wine rock club, was scheduled for a 9 pm start, which meant that we had a chance to stand around drinking beer in red plastic cups for an hour after that, until 10 pm when the opening act, Mary Gauthier, came on stage. (The less said about her, the better.)

Kathleen Edwards finally came on around 11:15 or 11:30, with a full band, and played a rocking hour-plus set. Her voice is incredible - husky and sweet. Her first album was folky, depressed and beautiful. The second, which came out a month or so ago, rocks a little harder, though it's still got songs about drunk people ending up in jail and relationships that fail in varied ugly ways.

One curious thing: "Six O'Clock News" is a really catchy tune, with a great chorus. But the lyrics are about a guy with a gun who takes some people hostage; it's sung from the point of view of his girlfriend, who tells him in the song that she's pregnant. By the end, he's laying in the street bleeding to death. (You've got to believe me about the catchy, hummable part.) It's her biggest hit, as these things go, and she played it second, rather than saving it for an encore, which I completely respect. But there were a bunch of women bopping in front of the stage, holding their Bud Lights in one hand and raising the roof with the other... which just seemed incongruous for a song about hostage-taking and death. Made me curious about what the artist thinks in a situation like that. She's gotta be happy that people like her song -- and, anyway, she's the one who paired grim lyrics with a pop hook.

In any case, I came home with my ears ringing and a smile on my face. (Kinda reminded me of the Wilco show last summer, which had led me to swear not to forget that I love loud music and a really great show.) Darren had stayed up to wait for me, so it was almost 2 before we got to bed. Woke up at 9:30 with a splitting headache, and the realization that I go out so rarely that I forgot that loud music, a couple beers and a late night create a more dismal (though also more easily cured) hangover than a tequila bender in the safety of one's own home.

Anyway, as a postscript to all that hipness, I sold back a bunch of CDs this afternoon and bought myself a few new ones:
~Aimee Mann's new one, The Forgotten Arm
~Beck's new one, Guero
~A collection of Nick Drake tunes, A Treasury, which, after having noticed the Amazon ratings, might have been a mistake. Oh well -- that was the wild card of the bunch anyway.

Next week, we've got tickets to see Ellis Paul at a much more sedate venue. So much for the glory days.