Sign o’ the Times

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When it comes to venues downtown, there’s one that still proves to be a great “electric” room, LaSalles. My running joke is that it is like the bar in the movie Saint Elmo’s Fire, where legions of kids “come of age.” Big-name reggae acts, clone metal bands, used-to-be-big rock bands (can anyone say “Spin Doctors.") and local favorites can, if the room is properly lubed, destroy the place. It makes the whole concept of live music (i.e. being able to actually see the band and getting some eye contact) worthwhile. Yes, yes, I know the metal cages are somewhat disconcerting, but there are so many cool things about LaSalles that they’re worth overlooking—even the new batch of security seems to be somewhat mellow, tolerant and ready to let people have a good safe time.

Acoustically, the room pretty much rocks. At the helm is one of the youngest soundmen in town, Ryan Sanders. He studied under Bob Tolar and has a great reputation among fans and bands. It is this kind of winning combination of good room, cool bands, and great staff that makes me want to go “rock out.” Speaking of which, the Mother Hips’ “last” show at LaSalles was nothing short of illuminating. For those in the know, it was the final chapter on what was an amazing decade or so of music.

Buffalo Creek is the most likely successor to the Hips brand of alt/jamband/ groove/country/rock twist. In any case, when original Hips drummer Mike Wofchuck came on stage and broke into classic Chico reference song "Superwinner," it became all too clear that, while the Hips enjoyed regional acclaim, they have remained Chico’s little secret. Many fans have the opinion that Wofchuck was the spiritual center of the band, and I number myself among them. His performance allowed the Hips to transcend from brilliant songwriting and melody to that "other place" that musicians live for. I know the Hips are going to keep playing in different combos for a while, and Wofchuck’s band Unanimous is getting ready to hit ‘03, so therefore I proclaim, "The Hips are dead, long live the Hips!"