Last Saturday: Sad Like Crazy & Hootenanny Insanity

A little slow, I know, but what the hey — that’s how I roll, generally. Managed to drag my couch-sitting/munchkin-minding self out of the house this past Saturday, mostly because there was just too damn much Rock going on in H-town to ignore. I had a hard time deciding, considering that Thee Armada, Alkari, My Education, The Riff Tiffs, Miss Leslie, Earnie Banks, and Elaine Greer were all playing, among others, but I ended up going with the Hootenanny shindig thrown by The Skyline Network’s ADR and the triumphal return of old-school indie-rockers Sad Like Crazy to the Proletariat stage. I kissed the midget & the wife goodnight, grabbed my new digital camera (small enough that I don’t feel like a self-conscious shmuck carrying it around in my pocket), and made for the door, ready to troll Houston’s seamy musical, um, underbelly…

HOOTENANNY!: Never been to The Mink before, but it seemed like a neat place — I’m seriously jealous of anybody who lives within walking/train-riding distance of the whole “music block” there, what with The Continental, Sig’s Lagoon, Tacos A-Go-Go, & The Mink all crammed together in one teeny little stretch of Main St. That said, I’m afraid I didn’t see much of the interior of the place, mostly because it was so goddamn packed inside to move much. Kudos to ADR for promoting the shit out of the show — dude, I think it’s safe to say that it worked. Congrats, man…

At any rate, I managed to get there, park a few blocks away (there’s supposedly valet parking, but I couldn’t find it), and hike my way down just in time to catch the awesome, awesome, awesome Panic in Detroit playing Jawbox’s greatest hits — I swear, they hit every Jawbox song I love and then some, and they had it down, to a fuckin’ T. I wedged myself in over by the bar and bobbed my head like a damn teenage kid, grinning from ear to ear; it made perfect sense, really, given PiD’s own music, that they’d be such huge Jawbox fans. From the sound of it, they knew every song by heart; apparently they only practiced three times before the show. Thanks, y’all; you made me want to run home an immediately slap on Jawbox’s For Your Own Special Sweetheart, immediately followed by the eponymous Panic in Detroit disc. (‘Cause hey, “We Own Everything” is the best damn Jawbox song Jawbox never wrote.)

Afterwards, I headed downstairs to shoot the shit with a few folks — I saw a lot of faces I recognized, some of whom I hadn’t seen out-and-about in a long damn time (like, longer than it’s been since I was regularly out-and-about). I was nervously checking my watch, though, because it’d clicked that I really, really, really needed to get over to The Proletariat to catch Sad Like Crazy…after all, just about every scenester who might’ve given a damn about ’em was at the Mink, enjoying the cover rock. I had a duty, dammit, to represent and give Trey, Mari, & co. an audience of one, at least.

Before I moved on, though, I followed David of Houston Calling as he bravely ventured back into the building’s first floor to catch The Jonx playing as NOmeansno. I could only see drummer Danny’s head and flailing arms through the crowd (this is what happens when the stage is floor-level, y’all; hell, upstairs I could only see Ryan’s head & hair), but it sounded like the Jonxers, much like their compatriots upstairs, were playing music they dearly loved and knew note-for-note. I’m still bummed they didn’t do “The Tower,” but eh…

Overall, I enjoyed the shindig a heck of a lot more than I thought my old, non-scenester ass might — there was a friendly, house party-type feel to the whole thing, where everybody there seemed to know everybody else. Lots of smiles, lots of hugs, and lots and lots and lots of ironic T-shirts (yeah, kinda including mine).

(Sorry, by the by, but I didn’t get any pics of the Hootenanny-in-progress — while it sounded great and was a lot of fun, I generally couldn’t see a damn thing…)

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SAD LIKE CRAZY: Back in the car. Down to Wheeler/Richmond & on over to the soon-to-be-defunct Proletariat, where it turned out to be Customer Appreciation Night. As in, “no cover, free beer.” I needn’t have worried about the turnout for the Sad Like Crazy gig, because it looked like every free beer-loving denizen of Montrose who wasn’t in a band had converged on the place. Of course, this had its downside, as well, like the fact that almost nobody there had a clue who SLC were, much less gave a shit. Fellow two-show-goer Marshall of the stellar Bright Men of Learning peered ’round the room and shook his head, amazed, asking, “Who are these people? I don’t know anybody here…”

Even still, though, I couldn’t have been happier. It’s been too damn long since I last chatted with Trey Pool, Mari Pool, & Thane Matcek (and I got to meet their drummer, too; sorry, dude, but I’m totally blanking on the name…), and it felt like Old Home Week trading stories and reminiscing about the bar’s stint as the Blue Iguana (memo to kids too young to remember the Iguana or the pre-renovated Fitzgerald’s: you have no idea how sketchy a club in this city can be, believe me; I always thought the porn plastered all over the Iguana bathroom walls was the crowning touch…). Good people, seriously.

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And, going by the show they put on, they’ve barely missed a step since leaving town, what?, five years ago, now? It’s hard to believe it’s been that long… Watching Trey, in particular, play his guitar I felt yanked back to The Good Ole Days, back before nobody who wasn’t themselves in a band gave a shit about Houston music. (Okay, so things haven’t changed that much, but hey, at least now there’s mainstream coverage of some of the bands, right?) He also reminded me how totally inadequate and lame he always made me feel on guitar — which isn’t a hard thing to do, given my non-skill, but damn, he blew me away then & now, both.

The rest of the band played wonderfully, too; if there were any missteps, I sure didn’t hear ’em, and neither did the rest of the crowd. They played stuff off Love Songs to Death that I knew & loved, like “Sweet to Me” and “Nekkid Is OK” (which Marshall declared to be his favorite SLC song ever), and I’m guessing they threw in stuff off Populist Octopus, too, ’cause there were songs in there I didn’t recognize at all — I was finally able to pick up a copy of the album at the show. And through it all, there was the band’s signature mid-’90s indie-rock sound, halfway between Pavement slackerness and Grifters countrified weirdness. It was fucking great.

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All things considered, the crowd seemed to like the show, too. Nobody booed, nobody heckled, nobody got in a fight, yadda, yadda; people clapped and cheered, and more than a few wandered up to the stage afterwards and picked up their own (free, in the spirit of the evening) copies of the band’s two albums. Hell, they probably made a few converts.

Then, of course, things got weird. Almost as soon as Trey & co. left the stage, the DJs rolled out and launched into a dance-y mix of, oddly, songs I mostly seemed to know. And as they did, people spilled out of every nook & cranny in the place and arranged themselves all across the dancefloor, right on up to the stage. Simultaneously, about half the club-goers in the place lit up cigarettes and started puffing away, smoking ban or no. Seriously, it was so strange to see the shift that it almost felt choreographed.

Watching from the sidelines, I decided to take the hint and head on home. Gave Trey a hug and told him the band needed to come back down soon (no plans to move back down from Austin, sadly), then made my way through the dancers and unfamiliar faces, out the door, and off down the road. Yeah, yeah — it was only midnight, I know, but damn, two shows in a night’s plenty for me…


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