Gary and I tooled off to Memphis this weekend for one reason: to go to the BNL set at the Beale Street Music Festival. Sure, there was the siren song of the snoots, and we did visit the shiny shrine to Elvis that is Graceland, but what lured us there was the Barenaked Ladies hour-long set.
We were packed in to the eighth row back, along with some very very nice frat boys who were kind enough to offer me some of their Everclear. Why, thank you. I would love some alcohol poisoning. No, I'm not coughing because of the smoke from your Camels, it's just my lung cancer acting up. Oh, and thanks for standing right in front of me.
The band burst out and within a few songs gravitated to the left side of the stage. Steve and Jim both were transfixed by something in the crowd. I'm guessing it was a young lady paying a little homage to the band's name. Steve stared into the crowd with a widening half-lecherous, half-goofy grin, while Jim kept invading the Steve Space to teeter on the left edge of the stage, smile, and nod very approvingly at the audience in that particular corner.
Ed spotted parties on the balconies of the houses 100 yards away, which he dubbed "Austere House" and "Party House." He convinced one of the Party House attendees to take down his shorts. So, if you are the guy in red shorts in Memphis who pulled down his shorts for a crowd 100 yards away, I thank you. Of course, if you had pulled down your underwear too I would have respected you as well.
Speaking of underwear: I have seen London, I've not seen France, but I did see quite a bit of of Steven's underpants during a series of high kicks. He did a proud number of high kicks, leaps, and balancing on one foot as a cruel mockery of those of us with neurological issues.
The delightful thing about this band is they have no shame. They are quite happy to come out and gambol about like puppies - five puppies leaping up and barking: love me! love me! love me! OH, you love me now? Cute, you say? Now let my blow you away with the sheer power of my talent.
And because I am by nature reserved, and since Gary teased that when I stopped clapping I stood there with my hands clasped and face shining with adoration, I tried to distance myself. I looked at the clouds. I analyzed the lyrics. I looked at Gary. I watched the Frat Boys.
It helped a good deal that the Frat Boys were having a conversation about how they smuggled in the Everclear during the beginning of Break Your Heart. But of course, one verse in, their heads swiveled to the stage in amazement and I heard them say "Whoa, dude, he's really good." Poor things probably haven't heard a rock artist who can sing, much less summon wild applause for individual notes.
I so distracted myself that at one point I looked on stage and somehow Kevin was standing on his piano bench. I maintained decorum until one point when Steven apologized to the inhabitants of the Austere House for slighting their party. He said, "I know sometimes I've been seen as cold and aloof -- "
Then I lost it. "WHOOOOOOOO!" I screamed, arms in the air, totally giving it up for cold and aloof, and all those who are cold and aloof amongst us. "WHOOOOOOOOO!"
From then on the floodgates were broken and I didn't quite care what Gary thought of me. By that time the audience was completely won over, as were the Frat Boys, even though I suspect they credited the Everclear for making everything sound great. The band finished up, went offstage, blowing kisses, and did not come out again even though the Frat Boys and the crowd screamed for an encore.
It was a lovefest. Was it sincere? Or were these fake kisses they were blowing, and now they'll never come back down South? Who cares? I am so pathetically in love now, and so is Gary. He talked like a tween driving back to Cape: "Who's your favorite member of the band? What questions would you ask them if you could interview them?" It's cute, really. We will try to build up our resistance before we go see them next month in Chicago. Hush up, you rocksnob thirty-somethings, don't judge us unless you've resisted their charms in person.