Thursday, July 3, 2008

We're Gonna Have A Real Good Time Together


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:
Fa Cé-La
Original Love
Raised Eyebrows
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)
Let's Go

From Only Life:
It's Only Life
Deep Fascination
The Final Word
What Goes On

From Time For A Witness:
Sooner or Later
Doin' It Again

Non-album songs:
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!"


dguzman said...

Aw, Splotch--you're such a good egg. Glad you had such a great time!

The Imaginary Reviewer said...

That sounds like a riot. I've never heard anything by the band before, but I notice that I own a cover of one of their songs, Fa Ce-La, on a Rough Trade Records anniversary covers album. And it's a great song. So that, coupled with the fact that they covered Wire, means that they're alright with me. I think I shall see about seeking out some of their stuff.

Splotchy said...

D, thanks. It was a once-in-a-lifetime kinda thing. Unless it happens again, which would be fine with me :).

The IR, seriously? I'd love to hear that Feelies cover if you can get me an MP3 of it to me. I don't think I have actually ever heard another band cover the Feelies. As far as exploring their music, there are a couple excellent songs on my contribution to the GMMP Speed It Up mix, if you wanna give them a listen.

Dr Zibbs said...

This may sound like a dumb question but are the Feelies in anyway related to Mr McFeelie from Mr Rogers? If this is a really dumb question then I'm just joking.

Splotchy said...

Dr Zibbs, thanks for stopping by! No, that's actually incorrect. I believe the Feelies got their name from the book Brave New World by Aldous Huxley.

Mr. McFeelie does have a connection to rock 'n roll, however. He was the au pair to Billy Corgan from Smashing Pumpkins, which is strange, seeing as Mr. McFeelie is from Sheboygan. Look it up on Wikipedia if you don't believe me (just give me some time to finish editing the article).

Falwless said...

This was a great post! A+++++! I felt like I was right beside you! I don't know who The Feelies are, but I'm gonna check out their music, too, just because you like them.

The Imaginary Reviewer said...

Yeah, I'll give that a listen. I'll see if I can find an mp3 of the cover and get it to you. It's on my iPod but not the computer so I'll see if I can find it anywhere.

The band is called Eastern Lane, and the album is Stop Me if You Think You've Heard This One Before , a collection of (mostly older) Rough Trade Recordings songs covered by newer RT artists. It's actually rather good, and Fa Ce La is one of my favourite tracks from it. Didn't realise that was the Feelies.

Monty49 said...

Hey, Splotchy. Stanley's wife here. It was nice meeting you. I've read your blog for a while, and I told Stan about your love for The Feelies. I'm glad you had such a good time. (Even though your flight back was delayed. Newark Airport is the worst!) I was wondering how you knew Chris -- your post cleared that up.

By the way, everybody seemed to get a real kick out of the "Who's in Charge Here" comments.

Finally, a couple of other Feelies songs that were covered are "Let's Go" live (our daughter, Katie, gave me a copy of that) and a medley of a song by Mary J. Blige ("Real Love") and "Only Life" by Mike Doughty.

Monty49 said...

Whoops, "Let's Go" was covered by the Decemberists.

Andy said...

Great write up Splotchy - I'm very jealous - I keep hearing nothing but good things about these shows...and I envy your opportunity to be starstruck!

Splotchy said...

Monty49, wow, thanks a lot for your comments. I am sorry we didn't get to speak that much on Tuesday. I really did feel like a goofball bouncing around talking to everyone, and can hopefully meet you guys again at some point in the future where I can be a little more coherent and able to carry on a conversation :).

And thanks for the info regarding the covers! I'll have to seek them out.

I'm very glad to hear everyone likes the Who's In Charge Here? comments. It can get kinda snarky over there, but it's all in good fun.

Splotchy said...

Andy, you put out a *record* by one of your favorite bands, I think you have had some pretty nice experiences yourself :)!

I hope to meet you in the flesh someday as well, you crazy person.

Andy said...

Thanks Splotchy! I'll take this opportunity, if you don't mind, to mention that the Galaxie 500 Mailing List still exists and is currently talking up The Feelies, and that I've just kicked off a web forum called Oblivious as well (it only has 9 members so I feel obliged to plug).

Splotchy said...

Thanks, Andy. I actually tried visiting your new forum earlier today but was getting some PHP errors. I'll give it another go.

Is your mailing list archived so I can read all the recent comments about the Feelies shows?

Fran said...

Wow, that sounds amazing and I am thinking your embarrassment was not as bad you think it was.

The Feelies. Maxwell's.

Sounds like heaven to me.

DivaJood said...

That was so nice of you to offer David Patrick Kelly your extra ticket to The Feelies. How, well, ADOPTIVE of you! His loss, no kidding.

As for the Evanston/Hoboken comparison, WTF? Evanston is not like Hoboken. Evanston has Lake Michigan, and trees, and that big college by the lake, and my ex-husband living in my house with his bimbo wife and replacement family...

Wait. TMI.

Tengrain said...

Splotchy, you are Aces with me. I'm so happy for you, you should see the big-ass grin on my face.

Best regards,


Dr. Monkey Von Monkerstein said...

Dude, what a great adventure for you. I'm glowing just reading about it. Way to go my man.

Distributorcap said...

how come i dont have this much and i live here!

i am glad it was great for you

and you are missing the FREE feelies concert in battery park

Joe said...

That sounds fantastic! The only Feelies album I have is "Only Life" but I have very fond memories of it because I was listening to it a lot right before Nora was born

Freida Bee said...

David Patrick Kelly doesn't know what he's missing out on (unless he reads your blog, and then he probably does).


Randal Graves said...

I have no idea who The Feelies are, but a great post, nonetheless!

Stitt said...

Excellent review sir. I just got back to DC after traveling to Battery Park for the Feelies show on Independence Day. I was fortunate enough to have seen them twice before - at the old 9:30 Club in '89 and at Gaston Hall (Georgetown University, and the single best live music venue in the area during the short time they hosted rock concerts there) - so it was truly a joy to see them reunited again. I got so into them in high school that my friend and I used to joke that we'd drop out and follow them around the country - Feelheads. Somewhere, I have the vinyl "No One Knows" EP with the killer cover of Neil Young's Sedan Delivery.

To anybody here who enjoys R.E.M., Sonic Youth, Yo La Tango, Talking Heads or the Velvet Underground, but who's never heard The Feelies, wander on over to youtube and change your life.

Cup said...

This is BEYOND awesome, Splotchy! Not only the Feelies — but also Ira and Dean and Britta! You are one cool dude. Did you ask the kids when they plan to play in Atlanta?