BETTER THAN EZRA.
I know many of you don't know these guys, but let me just say they have been in my top 5 acts since the early 90's and their debut lp Deluxe, which I have worn out in several formats. And they headline an alternative show with two other bands. So we grabs some beer, get up to the stage, and away we go!
First up is Cracker. From the same era, these guys are most known for their big hit Low (#3 alternative in '93) and What The World Needs Now (#1 alt in '91).
They also did a lot of stuff from a country lp Berkeley to Bakersfield. But for KC, the highlight was a hilarious number called Eurotrash Girl:
Sold my plasma in Amsterdam
Spent it all in a night
Buying drinks at the Melkweg
For a soldier in drag
And I'll search the world over
For my angel in black
Yeah, I'll search the world over
For a Euro-Trash girl
Euro-Trash girl, Euro-Trash girl
Euro-Trash girl, my Euro-Trash girl
During their act, I noticed something that really made my heart feel good- an elderly lady, in a wheelchair, right up against the speakers, having the time of her life.
In between sets, we struck up a convo with her family (be it son and daughter in law or daughter and son in law, IDK), because they were wearing shirts about "the Rock Boat". This, we were told, was the brainchild of the next act coming up, Sister Hazel. They charter a cruise ship every year, load it with the best bands they can find (which this year includes BTE), and go on a five day music orgy. Dude told us they have payment plans, and if we booked on the phone, we could give his user name and get us both $100 off...
Anyway, Sister Hazel was next.
Sister Hazel was even cooler. They do a mix of alt, southern rock (including a chunk of the Allman Brothers' Jessica in the instrumental break of one song) that they term "Florida rock." Their big hit is an all time favorite for me called All For You (or "All For Y'all" as he said last night):
There's been times, I'm so confused
All my roads, They lead to you
I just can't turn, And walk away...
It's hard to say, What it is I see in you
Wonder if I'll always, Be with you
But words can't say, And I can't do
Enough to prove, It's all for you
(All For You was #11 on the main chart in 1997.)
Between this break, we suddenly had three ladies run up to us and ask for a picture- one of them under each arm while the third got the snap. We have no idea why, and we would see them again but once the entire night- which shall work into the story in just a bit.
Next, meet BTE:
On the left is bassist Tom Drummond, center is the extremely versatile lead singer and guitarist Kevin Griffin (who is also extremely tall), and on the right is drummer (and birthday boy) Michael Jerome, who is far and away the best, BEST drummer I have ever seen live. I fell in love with these guys from the start with their first lp which had 2 top tens on both Mainstream rock and alt- Good and In The Blood. Those not into the music MAY know them better for doing the song Juicy, which was used as a theme on Desperate Housewives. But they were far more than their catalogue.
Throughout the show, they would do little vignettes of other tunes, including: A discussion on how a wrong chord might have doomed now-classic songs to obscurity, demonstrating on Sweet Home Alabama and Jack And Diane- adding that "You don't want to do this with Bruce Springsteen in Asbury Park, his fans will take you out and... tickle you to death"; A mini medley of Rush tunes featuring Limelight and Spirit Of The Radio, because Griffin saw a guy with a Rush t-shirt in the front row; a large chunk of the Stones' Miss You; and, starting with a caveat that he didn't know all the words, a damn good attempt at the Bee Gees' Night Fever, which involved him getting off stage, sitting on the security rail with his butt on the rail and his back to the crowd and him leaning back to sing.
But the highlight (and title story of this post) began at a point when he pointed out it was Jerome's birthday, and they were going to make him run the gauntlet of junk food alley, marking off an item from each booth as he went. During that discussion, he mentioned getting a funnel cake, and soon, a girl had snuck out and got one, gave it to security, who laid it on the stage. At the end of the song they were doing, he retrieved it, thanking her as he passed sections of the (apparently still "piping hot") treat to the band, and going into this long discourse about how they were going to thank her by giving her a "musical funnel cake..." At this point Drummond started throwing picks into the crowd. I hadn't paid it much mind, because with my usual co-ordination and current level of intoxication, he'd have to hit me in the chest for me to catch one.
Kevin went on to explain that the excursion into the "musical funnel cake" was going to take the form of Jerome playing a drum solo "using only cowbells" (and you can imagine the look on Jerome's face when Kevin announced THAT.) Suddenly, two roadies appeared on either side of the drum kit to give him six bells to play, and as he began... you may have guessed this part-
...Drummond hit me square in the chest with a pick- no lie! I grabbed it up off the ground with an evil laugh. Moments later, after another pick bounced off the tip of KC's fingers, the guy on the other side of me also got hit in the chest. He picked his up and rose with eyes as big as saucers, giving me a fist bump.
Shortly thereafter, Kevin announced that "something was missing", and determined that they needed dancing girls on stage. So right then, in the middle of a song (might have been Juicy, so MUCH happened that night), they let about thirty women from the crowd go up and dance during the extended instrumental break...
...including the lady who got her picture under MY arm, second from the left in black.
Oy, what else? Oh, at one point at the tailing end of a song, he shut up everything but the beat and introduced a member of the touring band, who heretofore had remained, guitar in hand, behind the keyboard way to the back. He made him come to center stage "with your invisible guitar". He then had him play air guitar to the beat of My Sharona for about a minute. When the poor guy returned to his spot, Kevin announced, "That's the first time he's ever done that move center stage- and he probably won't be able to move tomorrow!" Shortly thereafter, at the instrumental break of another song, he asked him to "paraphrase the next verse" as Kevin sang, but "in a seductive voice". So Kevin would sing the verse, and the dude would follow it up with a decent Barry White impression.
Also, they did a tribute to the late Scott Weiland, doing Stone Temple Pilots' Interstate Love Song "for only the second time".
|At this point, he was towering directly over us.|
All in all, the best show I'VE ever been to, and one not likely to be topped.