all words: Michael
all photos: Stephanie Breijo
One Sleepless Wrestle: Or “Just Alone Instead, I’ll be Alone Instead…”
I wanted to write this review drunk.
I wanted to write this review drunk, because I think that I write better when drunk. Not only my typing, which is impeccable even when so blind I can’t see the screen, but I just write better. More. Able. Apart from a few of my old stories from my contracting days which appeared here in years past (and on those I was caffeinated within an inch of my life), I think everything I’ve ever (creatively) written has been while drunk.
And probably a lot of my work product, too. (shhhhh)
And interesting things happen when I’m drunk. You know this if you’ve ever read anything I’ve contributed before.
Instead I am writing this shoved in between meetings and running on a wave of exhaustion from a lack of sleep that I haven’t felt since I used to hump rucksacks after an airborne (ha) operation 20 clicks to an objective. I’ll do my best, but if you’re looking for a set list (didn’t write keep track) to accompany photos, you can just stop right here. You won’t find one.
Mikel Jollet, apparently, doesn’t need to be drunk to write. I envy that. Oh fans know their first album was written in a week following a break up, his mother being diagnosed with cancer, and his being diagnosed with with a genetic autoimmune disease, and sometimes traumatic events can spur on a wave of writing that can never be quite matched later on, but with the release of their second album “All At Once” it’s clear that neither drunkenness nor trauma are necessary to write lyrics and songs, and do it damned well. I didn’t hear another “Sometime Around Midnight” which has to be their signature song, but the songs I did hear (and I hadn’t heard the new album before the show) were right on par with their debut album.
There was to be an interview.
It didn’t work out. Had it, I wanted to ask how they were able to write another album between touring the world, 400+ shows, a DVD concert event, the Nedaspeaks.org project, etc etc etc. Their touring schedule is exhausting just to read.
I also kind of wanted to ask if they felt even slightly embarrassed over their incredible rise to success – hell the band was barely formed in 2007 and here they are on their second world tour, and not a shabby one at that. Not that they aren’t deserving, but I think there has to be a tinge of humility and awkwardness over the very rapid ascent they’ve made. I would think there has to be.
Clearly I don’t really know how to review the show and am dragging out the inevitable. Clearly I like them, because I went. Clearly a lot of other people like them because the venue sold out. This was my third time seeing them and anyone who knows anything about me knows that’s a pretty rare thing. I stopped seeing Gogol Bordello after they outgrew the Black Cat. Maybe it’s because I never saw Airborne Toxic Event at the Cat that I ventured out to the 9:30.
I’m glad I did.
It wasn’t as powerful as their first show there a few years ago, maybe because I knew what to expect. It wasn’t as intimate as their (semi) acoustic set at the Sixth and I Synagogue last year, but it was still a great show.
They write the kind of danceable, guitar and lyric driven music that speaks to me. Songs that should sound sad, but you find yourself moving to, and at the same time you’re moving you see other people moving and every now and again catch the sparkle of a tear on a cheek as the lyrics strike someone’s heart and they remember…something.
I wanted to ask what it’s like to write incredibly heart breaking danceable songs that clearly are written for a certain person, at a certain place in time. I have written before that one thing that strikes me about Morrissey is that though he writes songs about breakups and cheaters and heartache you never really know who (or what) he was writing about. It wouldn’t be hard to find out who Jollet was writing about. I wonder how many times they play a song before it doesn’t bring back the emotions that created the song in the first place. Maybe never? That must be hard.
So it’s difficult for me to write a review of a show for a band that sold out the 9:30. I mean had a band member broken down on stage, had a drum kit caught on fire or a microphone turned into a butterfly or something significant happen it would be easier, but they did what they did best – play great songs, very well. There was a lot of crowd interaction, some jokes and, wait, here’s something to write about – he’s climbing the speaker, jumping up onto the second floor balcony, hauling himself up…maybe he’ll fall….nope. Sings from there. The crowd liked that.
I’m glad he didn’t fall even though it would have made this review easier. How do you say you liked something you already liked? I don’t know. I wish more people liked the band, but clearly many people do. I guess I wish more of my friends liked the band? I didn’t recognize but two other people in the entire crowd, and one of them worked there (psst, Hi Lily). I don’t know why more of my friends don’t like the band since I know they like a lot of the same music I do. Then again I don’t know why some of my friends still go and see Girl Talk.
Maybe I need new friends? Or maybe I need to better review bands I do like so that they’ll like them? Or maybe it just shouldn’t have been a show on the evening of Mother’s Day.
And maybe I wanted to ask them that, despite how much I do like TATE, and how much I beg my friends to give them a listen, and how many times I’ve seen them now, that maybe they shouldn’t come to DC anymore, because they keep bringing bad things into my life. Listen: the first time I saw them I was on the downward spiral of an inevitable break-up (I still think had she come to the show as well we wouldn’t have). The second time I was in the midst of being affaired on, and this time my best friend, who got me tickets to the first show and told me I had to come see them and I’d like them and no, not because I used to jump out of airplanes for Uncle Sam and they have ‘Airborne’ in their name, moved away from DC permanently the Saturday before the show.
If you missed it, you missed a great show. I guess that all I can really say about it is that. You missed a great show. And if you didn’t miss it, and you were there, and you aren’t my friend, and you’re really hot, and a girl and….