Saturday night we ambled over to Irving Plaza for the recently reunited Chavez opening for GBV. It was a shame, but we witnessed a "moment." You know, one of those times where you are there to witness something that could be definitive and the only thing you have to rely on is your memory from that point on. Well, sadly, this moment was the last song by Chavez. Having not played together for a while, before the last song, Matt Sweeney announced "well, this is our last song, and since it very well could be our LAST song…"
It felt as if a bizarre chapter in obscuro-90's rock had closed… with nearly inaudible frequencies crushed out by a hollowbody guitar, leaving us with bands nowadays who try on genres like clothing. There was something more genuine from when bands churned about approximating Sabbath, but even then by a longshot.
And then on to GBV. The songs are there. The words are somewhat a kin to marshmallow fluff (taste good, little nutritional value). The music is poppy, ambitious, mod at times. And so was the booze. After the pompous, retrospective slide show, the band was not in any hurry to take the stage. Once they did, they were not in a hurry to get anywhere… and played a heavy handed collection of obscure EP tracks. They definitely played for the hardcore audience (ie, the crowd that cares they are going away), as opposed to me– someone who will be happy with their "best of" CD, and the idea of the band, not the reality. I like the idea you can just go out and do it, that you can take up at any point in your life and follow some passion to the point of people actually believing you. The reality, of course, being that when you release every song you ever write, a few of them will be great. In GBV's case, Bob Pollard has been at it long enough to have a lot of those great ones… and a ton of forgettable crap (either by content or fidelity).
The stage "banter" which went from adversarial to incoherent between audience shared swigs of tequila, only underscored my own hunger. Actual hunger. From having not have eaten since noon. Strangely, the songs held together (I guess they have practice with beer soaked performance thing) and we stuck around long enough to hear "Glad Girls" and the hilarious PA mic interplay between Matt Sweeney of Chavez and a ridiculously inebriated Pollard ("keep it together, Bob, play a song"), but things could only get worse by blood alcohol content standards, or by pompous stage move decency standards. Flying kicks I dig. Mic-twirling I dig. Teasing the audience with cigs and miller lite is so… so… uh… incredibly juvenile and lame.
I have now invented a new standard by judging performances:
How Much Of This Would Offend My Brother
"Punch the guy next to you if he bought a Counting Crows CD": signs point to neutral
The whole soliloquy about trusting people who drink, not trusting people who don't (and audience/pogrom roar): signs point to yes
Ah yes, and now into the afternoon of international shipping. There could be a GBV title in there somewhere!