Sunday, July 12, 2009
Viper at the SnS
Friday night I drove down to Chicago to see Viper and His Famous Orchestra play one of my favorite venues, Hotel S'n'S. I love seeing shows at Hotel S'n'S because the music is only half the fun. Friday night also included doggies, drinks, pretzel rods, another appearance by Ted Kennedy, stories of Mr. Ben, discussion of cans, new nicknames, and Twilight Sweethearts (a.k.a. the worst-tasting candy ever, whose horror is apparently eternal.) But the reason for the gathering was, of course, the music.
Things got underway shortly after 9:00 p.m. with the first set by Edward Burch. LeRoy Bach joined in to play "Dad Says" and a wonderful rendition of "Special Day" featuring John Peacock on the tambourine. Ed chose an eclectic group of songs to round out the rest of the set. How many times do you see "Jet Boy, Jet Girl" played solo acoustic? For me, at least, I'm putting my money on just this once.
Eclectic was also an apt description of the Viper and His Famous Orchestra's main set. With a formidable arsenal of instruments at their disposal, the band shifted effortlessly between pop, rap, waltzes, and sea shanties. (Good thing Sam had duct tape handy to repair Ed's brooms earlier in the evening, because he made excellent use of them.) "Winnebago Bay" made me glad to be wearing a Wisconsin shirt, though I wished my Sheboygan Falls comrades had been able to make it down. "Wanna Be Startin' Something" inspired the loudest singalong of the night, which isn't a surprise. The actual lyrics of the song, however, were a surprise to many in attendance. ("You're just a buffet?")
Not to slight their originals, which were great, but two of my favorite Viper songs of the night were YouTube gems the band had adapted for live performance. I have no idea how they found these, but they're amazing. The first was a rap called "Drunk Bus," a song with which any state school attendee can identify:
The second was "Benny Lava," based on a phonetic transcription of a great video from India. An enterprising gentleman wrote down English lyrics that sound like the words being sung. The band sang all the subtitles you see here:
The Viper and His Famous Orchestra played a show today at Milliennium Park in Chicago. I'm sorry I wasn't able to make it for that, but I'm glad I got to see them at the Hotel.
Following a break, Ed came back to play a "secret encore" by himself. The songs were somewhat slower, and I loved the Bennett and Burch elements. He also appeased the crowd request for ELO's "Telephone Line," which was appreciated by all. Ed's bonus set was great way to close out the musical portion of the night.
By my count, Friday's show was the eighth I've seen at Hotel S'n'S. Here's hoping for many more.