all (really terrific) photos: Jane Briggs
Author’s Note: Jenny Lewis, if you’re reading this (which you obviously are…my opinion is invaluable), let’s be best friends for always and forever. You can come over to my house and we’ll play Nintendo and you can sing songs to me. And we can be borderline vegans, whatever that means (I’m willing to sacrifice here).
When I got to the 9:30 Club for the show I was feeling a little lethargic. I don’t know why…probably because I’m super lame and usually spend my Thursdays getting ready for the weekend, which usually entails watching Mujeres Asesinas and going to sleep by eleven. Whatever the reason, my feet were dragging. After some minor but nevertheless annoying confusion at the door I was able to catch some of Farmer Dave’s set. By the way, I kept wanting to call him Farmer Ted (sorry Farmer Dave Scher…you look nothing like Anthony Michael Hall or a nerd). He was good, but I have to say that my energy levels were only raised slightly, and that was probably due mostly to Barbara Gruska killing it on the drums (ps, Barbara, when Jenny and I are best friends you can come over to my house too).
Dave moved things right along to make way for Deer Tick. By the time they took the stage, the venue had filled in quite a bit more. The band members, in the spirit of a little shameless self-promotion, were all wearing t-shirts advertising Born On Flag Day, which comes out June 23rd. I have to admit, Christopher Ryan was my favorite because he got creative and cut off the sleeves. Well, that and he has a weird little pony tail thing happening, which isn’t really a rat tail, but maybe more of like…I don’t know, a gerbil tail? Do gerbils have tails? Anyways, this was really when my energy returned.
Deer Tick has a very dynamic sound that bridges the gap between rock and country, which can be difficult to pull off. They definitely pull it off, though, and this was especially apparent live. John really engaged the crowd, both during and in-between songs. I have to admit, though, I expected him to move around a little more than he did. I read an interview where he says he thinks bands that are stationary the whole time are boring, and that he purposefully moves around a lot more on stage and through the crowd to avoid this. While he definitely had a lot of energy and didn’t necessarily stand in the exact same spot the entire time, he didn’t do anything out of the ordinary. Aside from that minor detail, though, I was very impressed. There was a solid mix of new and old songs, and I especially enjoyed “Baltimore Blues”. I also enjoyed Liz Eisenberg’s vocals, even though they were sometimes drowned out by the rest of the music. The band finished up with a cover of “La Bamba”, which was really fun and unexpected. All in all, a very good set which ever-so-sneakily left me feeling proud to be an American, and also left me with the desire to eat a piece of apple pie and then to become a trucker.
Although the crowd’s enthusiasm for the previous two acts was apparent, it was nothing compared to when Jenny Lewis took the stage. As soon as she belted out “See Fernando”, all the issues I’d had regarding my lack of energy instantly disappeared. She really made use of the entire stage, at one point standing on one of the speakers about ten feet away from me. That being said, Jenny interacted really well with the crowd the entire time, especially during “Silver Lining” when she invited the audience to sing along with her. About a quarter of the way into the song, someone fell down in the crowd. Jenny halted the singing and asked if everything was okay. Then, while they carted off whoever it was, she proceeded to tell a story about fainting when her belt was too tight. Once that was taken care of, she started the song from the top, dedicating it to the anonymous fallen concert-goer. I have to say my favorite song of the night was “Jack Killed Mom”. She prefaced that one by apologizing to Liz Eisenberg’s mom, who was standing in the audience, saying that it was not a song about her. Apparently I wasn’t the only one who liked that song…there were two commentators behind me who dished out constant approval (I’ll refer to them as Mary Carillo and John McEnroe for the time being, mostly because they never shut up when you want them to, especially at quiet parts like during “Trying My Best To Love You”).
Jenny also played some unreleased songs, including one called “Big Wave”. She prefaced that one by addressing the economic situation (I was thinking, ‘You’re preaching to the choir, sister…I just spent $7 on one beer…’), and she thanked the crowd for spending their hard-earned money to come out and see the show. You’re welcome, Jenny Lewis. At the end of the set, the crowd exploded in applause. The persistence paid off, and Jenny came back out for an encore. By the end, it was just her and Barbara left on stage. Eventually Jenny exited, leaving Barbara to, in the words of Randy Jackson, ‘work it out dawg’ on the drums. Overall, an incredible set…we laughed, we cried, and some of us fell down apparently…I repeat, Jenny Lewis let’s be best friends.
I’m going to keep the conclusion pretty simple here by saying there is definitely a reason this show was sold out. And I’ll leave it at that. Oh, and one more thing, Mary Carillo…you need to stop singing in public. It’s bad.