I’m back from my whirlwind trip to NY/NJ. I’ve got two or three posts in me to describe my journey, but I might as well start out with the whole purpose of the trip: The Feelies!
After a long day of travel, blogger-lunching and wandering around Manhattan, I caught the PATH train to Hoboken late Tuesday afternoon, the location of Maxwell’s, where the Feelies were playing that night.
Hoboken seemed very nice. It reminded me a lot of Evanston, a northern suburb of Chicago. For those from Hoboken reading this unfamiliar with Evanston, Evanston is a lot like Hoboken.
I had been to the NYC area one time before, with MizSplotchy back in 2000. At that time I was subscribed to a Galaxie 500/Luna mailing list, dedicated to the band Galaxie 500 and all its offshoots, run by the lovely and talented Brit Andy Aldridge. I’m not sure how it happened, but I must have mentioned on the list that I was going to New York. I then corresponded with fellow listmember Chris, and he trusted me enough to not be a stab-happy Internet psychopath, and was willing to actually meet me in person.
He and his wife took MizSplotchy and I to their favorite Mexican restaurant in Greenwich Village, and then gave us a great little driving tour of Manhattan before dropping us at our hotel. It was a great pleasure getting to meet and talk with them. They is good people.
I had exchanged emails a couple times since then with Chris, but hadn’t really kept in touch. Still, after I found out about the Feelies shows at Maxwell’s, I emailed him and asked him if he was going (and if he remembered me). Yes, he remembered me, and yes, he was going. He suggested that we meet up at Maxwell’s for dinner prior to the show (there’s a restaurant there as well).
So, I walked the relatively long walk from the PATH station up Washington Street to Maxwell’s. Chris was running a little late so I just milled about on the corner in front of the bar. Then I saw Dave Weckerman (one of the freakin’ Feelies!) round the corner and my already happy day brightened up considerably. I walked up to him and introduced myself. We talked for ten minutes or so, about the Feelies, Maxwell’s, Roky Erickson, etc., then he went on his way. I had personally met a Feelie! Yayyyy!
Soon after, Chris and his wife showed up and we headed into the restaurant. It was around 8:15pm, and the show was scheduled to start at 9:00pm. It took a long time to get seated, so we stood around a bit and had some drink. Chris had some friends with him, too — Bowman, a really nice guy from Brooklyn, and Jen, a fellow Galaxie 500 listmember, also very nice.
So, I see bassist Brenda Sauter having dinner. Singer/Guitarist Glenn Mercer walks past me. Chris introduces me to drummer Stanley Demeski. Holy crap. I am here. The Feelies are here. We are both here.
I think Chris was a little bemused by my starstruckedness. He plays in a band with Brenda, and he works with Stanley. The Feelies are people he knows, and has known for years. Hey, I’m a dork. What can I say?
So it’s getting close to 9:00pm and we have just gotten our food. I eat my delicious crabcake sandwich as quickly as humanly possible, and excuse myself from the table. I am not going to miss a single damn song.
The music venue part of Maxwell’s is a small, cozy rectangular room. I really couldn’t have asked for a better place to see a show. It was crowded so I didn’t really have room to dance, but I did a lot of whiteguy head-bobbing, so that’s something.
The Feelies played two sets, and pretty much played every song I could ever have wanted them to play. I had wanted to nab a setlist but I didn’t have any luck. So, I can give you the songs that I remember them playing (I’m probably going to miss a couple), though not in the order they played them in.
From Crazy Rhythms:
I do remember that Crazy Rhythms followed Raised Eyebrows, and that Crazy Rhythms was the last song in their first set. The two songs fit together so well on the album, and the song transition is so “magical” for lack of a better word, I was a little giddy when they did the same song transition live.
From The Good Earth (perhaps the best album ever made — yes that’s right, that’s what I said):
On the Roof
The High Road
Slipping (Into Something)
From Only Life:
It’s Only Life
The Final Word
What Goes On
From Time For A Witness:
Sooner or Later
Doin’ It Again
We’re Gonna Have A Real Good Time Together (VU cover)
Outdoor Miner (Wire cover)
Barstool Blues (Neil Young cover)
Dancing Barefoot (Patti Smith cover)
Fun To Be Happy (Love Tractor cover)
She Said She Said (Beatles cover)
TWO NEW ORIGINAL SONGS! — One of the songs they did was kinda punky. Had the word “Time” in it. I’m sorry, but that’s the best I can do for you folks. Chris said he thought they had four new original songs cooked up, and they played two of them during the show. I must have not recognized the other one as being unrecognizable.
When they took a break from their first set, despite the fact that my legs were tired, despite the fact that I had to pee, despite that my inner thighs were raw from walk-chafe, I moved closer to the stage. And there I stood until the second set began. Bowman came up and hung out with me for the second set. The second set was even better than the first. They played a lot of the songs hellaciously fast. It was really quite wonderful.
So, after a few encores (yayyy!) the show finally ended. We hung around after the show. Yes, I talked to every single damned Feelie after the show.
Here is a list of Feelies I spoke with and the degree to which I embarrassed myself by my fanboi babbling.
Stanley Demeski – No embarrassment
Bill Million – Mild embarrassment
Dave Weckerman – Mild embarrassment
Glenn Mercer – Moderate embarrassment
Brenda Sauter – Extreme embarrassment
Brenda, if you happen to read this, sorry! Y’know, I was geeking out talking to everyone. I don’t really feel that bad at all about it, though one never wishes to look like a doofus. What the hell. I think my appreciation of the band came through, at least.
As I carefully pointed out to each Feelie, I had gone to great lengths to see them play live. This was the script I started with — “Hello [Feelies member]! It is so nice to meet you! I came all the way from Chicago for this show!” But wouldn’t you know, some guy flew in from Belgium and another guy flew in from Japan for the Maxwell’s shows. So, of course my trip from Chicago looks completely puny in comparison. Damn you Belgium and Japan! Damn you!
When I crept up to Brenda to speak with her, she was having a conversation with Ira Kaplan of Yo La Tengo. I sort of weaseled my way into their conversation (in my defense, Chris told me I should go talk to them, so he should be held fully responsible for whatever damage I have done to my cred with the Hoboken Musical Illuminati). I had seen Yo La Tengo a few times but had never spoken with Mr. Kaplan. He was a very friendly guy. It was kind of weird that I was talking to him and never even mentioned Yo La Tengo or indicated I knew who he was. Hey, it was all about the Feelies that night.
Dean Wareham and Britta Phillips, formerly of Luna and currently of Dean & Britta (I wonder how they came up with that name?) were also milling about after the show, talking to Stanley (Stanley was Luna’s first drummer). I own pretty much everything Luna has ever put out. Dean glanced in my direction and I could have talked to him, but I didn’t make any effort to speak with him. As I said before, it was all about the Feelies that night.
I wish I could have talked to Stanley a bit more. He seemed like a really nice guy. Hey, he even introduced me to his wife and friends, saying “This is SPLOTCHY!” After a little chitchat, I got an unexpected spell of social shyness and excused myself to move on to the next person to embarrass myself in front of. Oh well, perhaps next time.
I was a little nervous speaking with Bill Million, but he was quite friendly, and seemed to really appreciate (perhaps touched by, even) the fact that I made the trek to the show.
I am really encouraged that the Feelies are working on some new material. It’s pretty darned nifty. I spoke with a few members of the band about the possibility of touring, coming to Chicago, etc. They had mentioned getting some offers for coming there in August, but it sounds like they’re just going to see how things organically grow or don’t grow.
Whatever happens, I am so happy to have finally been able to see my favorite band play live. It was wonderful.
Oh, I forgot to include this in the original post. David Patrick Kelly actually contacted me last week via his assistant regarding my extra ticket. He appreciated the offer, but was unable to make it. I ended up giving my extra ticket to a friend of Chris’.
As DPK said in the email, “The Feelies are great!”