After the apocalypse
SF’s Creeper Lagoon and locals the iMPS rock the Blue Room
Everyone, I suppose, has pre-show rituals. Mine remain pretty consistent, whether the show is one I’m playing, one I’m attending for professional reasons, or, best of all, one I’m going to just because I want to rock out with a bunch of like-minded freaks. An overly academic bottom-line summation of my ritual might read: Achieving the perfect balance of anodyne and anesthetic. It ain’t easy, but it’s fun trying.
Anyway, having achieved Friday evening’s version of that ever-elusive balance, it felt mighty fine to gang up with a bunch of pals and make the leisurely stroll from the liquid-amber charms of Duffy’s to the Bud-buffered coziness of the Blue Room. And I’m not kidding about the coziness; the place was more packed than I’ve seen it in recent history.
In a comfortable way, of course.
Ostensibly we were there to witness the much-reputed awesomeness of Creeper Lagoon, the indie-rock sweethearts of the City by the Bay, but I think a good many of the throng came just for the pleasure of catching a set by our own local sweethearts, the iMPS. As the too-seldom-lamented Bitter Betty and I used to recite in self-mocking yet utterly sincere harmony when deep in our cups: “I love those guys, man.”
And this evening they (again) gave us reason for voicing such well-meaning if soggy sentiment. Old fogies in my readership will know what I mean when I invoke the palpable warmth and rough-and ready bonhomie of a Vomit Launch show; the uninitiated are instructed simply to accept the well-known fact that telling a personal anecdote or cracking a corny joke in between numbers is a good thing for a band to do—it lets the audience know that you’re aware that they’re there, and that part of what you’re doing is trying your utmost to communicate with them on a personal and, well, fun level.
The iMPs are good at that. Their songs truly rock. The most recent recruit, drummer Jim Rizzuto, is now thoroughly imbued with essential iMPishness, and he appends his own unique form of rhythmic subtlety to the mix, adding a triple-time high-hat flourish here, an uncountable but perfect snare accent there, and generally spurring guitarist/singer John McCall and bassist Eric Merton into ecstatic explorations than can transform even a usually subdued indie-rock audience into a gleefully jostling swarm of dancing fools. The fact that they can do this while playing a straight-faced, un-ironic version of Elton John’s smash hit “Rocket Man” elevates them, in my gleefully hooting opinion, into the realm of All-Time Good Fuckin’ Rockers. Nuff said.
Of course there was another band playing that night.
A good band. A much ballyhooed band. A band called Creeper Lagoon. I wouldn’t have wanted to follow the iMPs on stage that night. Unless, of course, I had absolutely no doubts about the powers of my own band’s awesomeness. And, thankfully, the boys in Creeper Lagoon are (justifiably) not plagued by any such doubt.
They jumped right out with a big phat cover of the Credence Clearwater Revival chestnut, “Travelin’ Band,” and attacked it with enough joyfully over-the-top abandon to convince me that I was about to witness a rock-'n'-roll super-event of apocalyptic proportions. And the song as they performed it was just that.
But the problem with creating or invoking apocalyptic events that don’t immediately end or transform the world is that you’re stuck with dealing with an anticlimatic aftermath in one way or another. And the aftermath of apocalypse is what Creeper Lagoon is essentially about—playing night after night to crowds who come laden with expectation and hope—and night after night delivering songs of joy and affirmation and, ultimately, resignation. Which, if you’re in for the long haul down that rock ‘n’ roll road, is a much more positive term than it may sound at first.
It might seem slightly sinister, but as your travel adviser, I suggest a visit to Creeper Lagoon. It’s a deep, hidden pocket of blue-black water draped with flowery vines—a darkly cool place festooned with swaying seaweed. If you’re lucky there’ll be a few imps throwing a party on the beach.