Thursday, May 8, 2008

And when you believed, they call it rock and roll

On Saturday we slept in as long as we could. We took advantage of Evonne's hospitality to loiter over fresh fruit and showers, eventually mobilizing for an excellent late brunch at Millie's. From there it was on to Intelligentsia for a coffee boost before hitting the road for north San Diego.

Why were we headed to Solana Beach? Well, Britt Daniel had announced an early show at the Belly Up Tavern just days before. So why wouldn't we be headed to Solana Beach? (I so love that I have an entire group of friends who share this attitude.)

I saw Britt Daniel sit in for a few songs with Jon Brion on New Years Eve in Chicago. Aside from that, I hadn't seen him since my first and only Spoon show: at the tiny Annex in Madison back in 2003. We made good time down Interstate 5, reaching Solana Beach in time for some pre-show gelato in the late afternoon sun. Upon entering the Belly Up Tavern, I was immediately struck by how much I liked the space. It reminded me a bit of the High Noon Saloon; the type of place you'd be glad to have in your city. Anya Marina (yes, there was even an opener for the early show) was just beginning, and we caught most of her set. Britt followed in short order, playing many of the songs I know best from the three latest albums, I was happy to note, as well as some new songs. He was good natured and friendly onstage throughout, and dealt well with some rather obnoxious and intoxicated fans. I got the impression he was used to it. Last time I saw Spoon, their most recent album was Kill the Moonlight, so there were many songs I'd never heard live. Of those, the one that really blew me away was "The Beast and Dragon Adored." I'm a fan of the song to begin with, but I absolutely loved the version Britt played on Saturday.

Britt finished up right at 8:00. Time for dinner and drinks and hanging out at the beach while the last of the daylight faded? Perhaps you know us too well by now to be fooled by that idea. No. Time to get in the car and motor back up to Los Angeles for the last Saturday night show at Largo on Fairfax: Paul F. Tompkins!

Traffic was not a problem, and we were parking at Melrose and Fairfax by 10:00. The show had begun, and we could see from the sign on the door that it was sold out. A quick look around when we stepped inside confirmed that Largo was packed to the gills. By the grace of God, Mike, and Flanny, however, we were admitted and seated in one of the only free areas: the floor directly in front of the stage. That was something.

The show itself was something, too. Paul F. Tompkins was hilarious, and brought up a number of special guests in traditional Largo style. Among them were many familiar faces from the night before: Fiona Apple, Sara and Sean Watkins, Benmont Tench, and Jon Brion to name a few. There was music, including a song Fiona had written about Largo. (My favorite line: "When Mr. Tench is on the bench, I want to be the piano.") Paul F. Tompkins talked a lot about Largo on Fairfax again, but he also talked about how great Largo at the Coronet will be. (Summer gelato in the courtyard has been promised by Flanny.) The mood was decidedly more upbeat on Saturday than it had been on Friday. As PFT said, "Last night was the wake. Tonight is like the baby shower!" The musical collective also played a rousing cover of "Nightclub" by the Old 97's. I enjoyed that very much.

And so, my true last night at Largo on Fairfax came to a close. Paul has mentioned a similar sentiment, but I feel blessed to have had the chance to become even a tiny part of that universe; as a repeat spectator, if nothing else. Such a wonderful community has grown up around Flanagan's place, and I hope - and believe - that the same spirit will carry over to Largo at the Coronet.

Also check out:
A review of Friday night's show from Variety
Fiona's Largo song on Youtube

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