The first set *was* a real thrill-- I mean, who thought we'd ever see a hit parade of Utopia tunes delivered via three guitarists? "Black and White" and "Trapped" completely pinned my ears back. But I really have to take issue with "Fix Your Gaze," especially as the second song of the set? ick. The extended, uh, "jazz" coda of "Drive" was hilarious-- the wry grin and head-shaking by Rundgren at the end of the tune were priceless. He busted a string near the close of "Love in Action"; the monitor mixer gestured frantically across the stage at the guitar tech for a minute or two, then Todd finally was brought a fresh guitar between songs-- whereupon he forgot to plug it in for the first bars of "Hammer in my Heart." He also made some strenuous (read: futile) attempts at background vocal-cueing during the ending section of "Worldwide Epiphany" that nearly had me doubled over laughing. Very entertaining. Everyone onstage seemed to be in a relaxed and happy mood-- for the most part. Especially Kasim, who kept winking at my companion. "He's cute," she says. uh huh. Especially the way he chews gum, sings and plays at the same time, don'tcha think?
(sorry, do I sound petty?)
Other than that, my favorite parts of the show were "Surf Talks" and "Hit Me Like a Train." Kas was working it on the latter, doing some masterful less-is-more playing that really made the song move. And despite the sound problems, "Surf" showed flashes of total brilliance. What a tough song to start a set with! There's got to be easier tunes to warm up by. I listened to "Surf" twice today on the TRTV CD and I like it more than ever.
The sound was pretty weird. Slim's is a long rectangular room with brick walls. Their PA is shrill and, if what others say is true, the band used the house sound person, who I'm sure is as hearing-challenged as most club sound personnel. Given: it takes a lot of money and experience to make a band sound that bad. I have NEVER experienced a Slim's show with decent sound. Wednesday night I was standing direct center, about 4 rows back (yeah, the 6'5" guy in the gray t-shirt who the people behind kept scowling at, right) so I was getting a lot of stage sound, but I could tell the house mix was pretty incoherent. After "Influenza," the second song in the Twist portion of the set, Kasim lost his temper about the monitor mix, as well. The background vocals were mixed unevenly, and were horrendously loud. And whenever Kasim hit the lowest notes on his five-string (especially certain chords) the whole place would begin resonating, obliterating what was left of the mix.
Oh, and who was the girl that Todd finally told to "shut UP"? heh. She was well into her cups by the end of the show and started shouting back every word he said in between songs while leaning over the front of the stage. I guess he couldn't take it any longer. Neither could we. Other highlights: watching a woman behind her provocatively apply lipstick while dancing and singing along with "Ooh Baby Baby." Um, KIND of distracting. Close, but no panties. Only in San Francisco.
I wish I could see the first part of the show again in a week or two. Although the rough edges made for a great diversion, when the band gets warmed up and comfortable with the songs, this set is going to *roar.*
Finally, I have to laugh about people complaining that Rundgren didn't hype Patronet or tr-i.com onstage, or that some in attendance weren't aware of the same. Or the USENET group. Or this list. Let's see...why doesn't he self-promote more aggressively...? I can't imagine...but maybe-- wait....
(sound of palm smacking forehead).
BECAUSE HE DOESN'T WANT TO.
If people care enough to attend the show and have internet access...well, don't they know how to use a search engine? Or search mailing lists and USENET? Come to think of it, well (another lightbulb goes off above my head)...people have the right to live their lives without feeling compelled to have their cultural awareness be governed by the internet. Heck, they probably have real lives and real relationships and just go out to see live music once in awhile without experiencing that nagging feeling that they (gasp) may be missing something in some goddamn chat room somewhere. It's great fun to complain that people aren't like you. It comes in handy when you're feeling superior. Relax and enjoy it.
glasses of mediocre, overpriced Chardonnay: (1)
glasses of pear cider (mmmm, pear cider): (1)
Flashbacks to my first Rundgren show at Chicago's Auditorium Theatre in 1975: (1) (during Born to Synthesize)
number of tipsy women asking me how tall I am: (1)
number of people who chose to stand behind me and then grumbled about how they couldn't see (audible): 3
number of songs Julie Christiansen did between sets: (4) (but it seemed like more)
number of cups of Espresso counted off during climatic last verse of same: (8)
number of times the guy behind me claimed the first set was "SOO awwwesum!": (lost count)
number of times I count my blessings that seeing Rundgren live-- again and again, throughout 25 years-- is still a BIG thrill that I can count on, and that I don't waste my time (or anyone else's) hectoring and ragging about his marketing and business acumen: (in progress)