Thursday, May 03, 2007

"Long shot of that jumping sign, visible shivers running down my spine..."

Elvis Costello and the Imposters at The Warfield, SF

Just back from this concert. I had a wonderful time. I almost didn't go, but a new friend set things up for me.

The Setup

I was a member of this online group that had a large number of events you could sign up for such as hikes, wine tastings, plays, etc. It's a good group; they place a high value on attendance, they ding you if you cancel an event. I signed up for a large event taking place three hours from SF. I was really looking forward to going, but then I got sick and slept through the deadline for a refund. I got into a very unpleasant email exchange with the host (someone I had never met). He was angry, I was angry. He managed to secure me a refund, the source of our dispute, but told me that I was rude and insulting and to never RSVP for any of his events again. I informed him that wouldn't be a problem because I was leaving the group.

The last event I signed up for was this one. Several of us were supposed to meet at the Warfield for this concert. I'd already bought the ticket and had no one to go with. After I canceled my membership, I realized I didn't want to go alone. I mentioned this dilemma to my new friend and he told me he knew the guy hosting and he would ask him if I could still go (not the same host I got into the email fight with).

Well, the guy said yes and he was just as laid back and relaxed as my friend told me he would be even if I was "crashing" the event. I really enjoyed myself at this concert and I enjoyed meeting the other people who attended. They asked me why I left the group just because of one bad experience with one host. I told them it was because the emphasis on attending events was a little heavy handed for me and had always rubbed me the wrong way. I feel very strongly that if you RVSP for something you need to do your very best to attend, but I don't need to be hit over the head with it all the time.

The real reason I jumped ship was because I didn't want to attend the same events as that unpleasant host and I didn't want to have to constantly monitor my RSVPs to make sure he wasn't going to sign up for the same events as me. If he did, I would have to cancel and that would suck and be a pain in the ass.

The Concert

We managed to secure seats at a table in the general admission area. I was amazed at our good luck. The seats had bright red folding chairs packed tightly together. Directly above us was the "Reserved" section. We ordered drinks and settled in, getting to know one another.

The door guy told us Elvis would be performing from 8:15 - 10:15 pm that night. Sure enough, he came right out at 8:15 pm and just started playing. Better yet, there was no opening band. Very nice indeed. The Imposters are The Attractions, but with a different bass player.

Although I'm not as familiar with Elvis' music, I recognized almost all the songs. As soon as one song was over, they launched into another one. He didn't talk much at all. He wore a dark grey suit, tie, shirt and sunglasses. He's so cool.

Directly above us, in the Reserved section, a guy was chain smoking doobies. I don't where he secured that stash, but it was some powerful shit. We had pot smoke blowing over us all night long. Several of our group complained about the smoke. I wondered if the smoke was really that bad or if I'm just getting old. Then at one point the smoke was so bad my lungs started burning each time I took a breath and I got a pounding headache.

Being slightly stoned with a headache failed to put the damper on my enjoyment of the evening, however. My favorite song of the night, as you can tell from the title of this post, was "Watching the Detectives." An ex of mine has the 7" EP of Elvis Costello and the Attractions Live at Hollywood High (1978). The version of "Watching the Detectives" on this EP is so great. It's very different from the reggae version we usually hear on the radio. Elvis sang the song more like that Hollywood High recording and it was dripping with cool.

Other notable songs were a lovely acoustic version of "Alison" and a killer version of "Hey Bulldog." Chain smoking doobieman kept yelling/croaking out "Hey Bulldog" during the wrong parts of the song. There were other great songs, I just didn't know their names. Many times I settled back in my chair, smiling. I felt myself easing into the music and I was feeling a deep sense of satisfaction and gratitude. He finished with "Radio, Radio" "Pump It Up" and "What's so Funny about Peace, Love, and Understanding?" in that order.

I'm so glad I went. I'm so glad my new friend set this up for me, and I'm so glad the host was open to letting me attend.


While taking the 6 Parnassus bus home, I overhead the following conversation. The two young men speaking had just come from seeing Elvis too.

Guy in Yellow Rain Slicker: "So yeah, do you know what happens when you leave vinyl records in the sun? Have you ever seen that happen?"

Guy with Dreadlocks: "No man, what goes on?"

Guy in Yellow Rain Slicker: "They get all warped and shit."

Guy with Dreadlocks: "Whoa."

Both men couldn't have been more than 23 or 24 years old. The Guy in the Yellow Rain Slicker was tall and thin. He spoke slowly and deliberately. The Guy with Dreadlocks was African American and wearing black rain jacket with white piping on the sleeves. Both wore really baggy pants and very large sneakers. The conversation continued.

Guy in Yellow Rain Slicker: "So? My favorite record got all warped and I decided to fix it. Ever try that?"

Guy with Dreadlocks: "No. How'd you do it?"

Guy in Yellow Rain Slicker: "I turned my oven on really low and put the record in there with some books on top of it."

Guy with Dreadlocks: (laughs) "Did it work? How was it when you played it again?"

Guy in Yellow Rain Slicker: (his voice gets a little lower, softer) "No, man. It just got even more warped. I put it on the turntable and the whole thing was wavy."

Guy with Dreadlocks: (laughs again)

Guy in Yellow Rain Slicker: "Hey, at least I didn't try using an iron."

Guy with Dreadlocks: "Whoa! Why didn't you try that, dude?"

At this point, they both got off the bus at Haight and Fillmore. I'm sitting here at my desk at home, my lungs are still sore from second hand pot smoke. I feel like laughing my ass off when I think of these two guys, but I refrain. I refrain because we all have our own warped vinyl stories.

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