December 14, 2002

The Funniest Thing

Maybe if it wasn't raining I'd have felt more inclined to head over to Maxwell's for the French Kicks show tonight, but as it is I'm saving my energy for The Rapture and LCD Soundsystem tomorrow night, which promises to be dyn-o-mite.

It will be a nice bookend to a week that started out with The Onion Christmas Party show on Monday. I didn't even know about it until less than a week before, and only because my friend Steve had stumbled across the listing on the Northsix web site. The lack of promotion probably explains why the club wasn't suffocatingly crowded for star attraction Gene Ween who, along with Jason Loewenstein, were the two main draws for us.

Onstage when we arrived were Parts and Labor, doing their electronic hardcore thing just like at the Enon show the previous week. We went downstairs for the coat check, only to be turned away -- no more room! David Cross was standing in line behind us, but I take it they were able to find room for his coat, since he didn't seem too concerned. What-evah. Apparently there were other comedy "celebs" there, incl. some of the current SNL cast members, but I don't have the vaguest idea who any of those people are, so... What-evah.

Minor bitching about the coat check aside, I really do like Northsix. It's spacious, with an audience area that wraps around the sides of the stage, and a bleacher-style seating area near the back. And the bar area outside the main club space provides a nice respite from those bands whose music you'd rather not endure (and oh, did that come in handy later).

Strangely enough, right after Parts and Labor's set the headline-caliber act was announced as next: Gene Ween. Even after stepping outside for a bit and re-entering the performance area as Gene Ween had already started to play, we were able to make our way to the left edge of the stage without much problem at all. And -- hot damn! -- it wasn't just Gene, but Dean as well, along with a bassist and drummer... Ween, as far as we were concerned.

It was a mellow, surprisingly excellent performance. I honestly had no idea what to expect, given that the last time I'd seen Ween was opening for Mercury Rev at Irving Plaza almost (good lord) eleven years ago. And my memories of that event are a bit fuzzy, since I had no idea who the heck they were at the time. All I remember thinking was, oh, stoner goof rock... this place is very smoky... is every guy in here wearing a wool cap?... I can't see a @$^%$! thing...

But these guys shifted from pop-rock, to minimalist funk to flat-out country with ease, and you could tell that they were sincere but having fun with (not making fun of) each style. "Voodoo Lady," "The Mollusk," "Sarah"... the raucous crowd whooped with approval at each tune, yelling out requests at every turn -- esp. when Gene invited everyone to do so. Chaos! But I'll leave the song trainspotting to über-fans like the guy who not only asked Gene for his set list, but got it autographed by the entire band.

When (Gene) Ween started to leave the stage after their last song, people starting clapping and hooting for an encore, but two of our Onion hosts took the stage to apologetically explain that they needed to keep things moving along for the other acts. But hell, they should have allowed an encore since as soon as that was announced the human exodus began. I mean, sure, being able to see Ween for ten bucks in a small rock club was a treat, but I'd figured more people would be sticking around for the whole show.

Near the beginning of his set, Jason Loewenstein looked out at the remaining faithful and said something about how he knew most of the people out there, and if he didn't, he would by the end of the night. He then proceeded to ROCK OUT, noisy as fuck and with guitar soloing galore. Not that Loewenstein is very pop to begin with, but the set that night bypassed a lot of his more immediately tuneful songs (dude, my favorites), in favor of duh-nuh-nuh-nuh chugalongs like "Roswell to Jerusalem" and the noodly-doodly "Crazy Santana" from his solo debut. Toss in two or three shouty hardcore romps for good measure.

Thinking we'd take J. Loew up on his offer to make nicey-nice with the audience, we decided to stalk our prey after a brief chat-n-drink break. I was a sissy and just tagged along behind Steve as he barged through the backstage door (rock'n'roll!) and we wended our way through the underground passage that led us back to... the coat check. Oh, what's that off to the side... food! Unfortunately the snack platters had been more or less stripped clean of all edible contents, so our quest ended up being a total bust. We joked that he was probably in the band van having a "smoke." Heh.

But we did run into another one of those ubiquitous ilXors, who was OTM in his description of the next band, Oneida, before they hit the stage: "gas-huffing, Blue Cheer-style 60s rock." Sounded like a recipe for avoidance to me, but we decided to check it out. After another round of exit/entry (love that outside bar area!), we walked in mid-song. Or mid-snoozefest. Overheard: someone disgustedly remarking that the current sound emanating from the stage sounded like a dial tone. Next was the Song-We-Thought-Would-Never-End... duh-nuh-nuh-nuh on the keyboards over and over and over and... Oh God, make it STOP!

And it finally did, so we fled to the outside bar once more and played with items from a manicure set (???) on the table in front of us before coming to the conclusion we'd had enough. A decidedly fun (and sometimes funny) night. Ween + Loewenstein = peachy-keen!

Posted by nstop at December 14, 2002 12:50 AM


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