Beaver lovers unite!
Uh-oh. Looks like our pals over at Team Scoopy are waving their pom-poms for American Idol again.
Boy howdy. Watching that bitchy Englishman, aided by a lurching Foster Brooks in a tousled stripper wig and some careerist bass player who says “dawg” a lot take a grim reaper’s scythe to this week’s short-bus load of aspiring talent may be entertaining … in the same way that pulling wings off a fly is funny. But the show’s larger agenda, the winnowing of contestants down to an elite group of glorified karaoke howlers, each one rubber-stamping the same bankrupt Clive Davis power-ballad aesthetic, is akin to judging a bunch of night-school artists in a “paint like Thomas Kinkade” competition. You may end up with some nifty postcard images of gingerbread cottages, but, in the end, what does it all mean?
Still, as awful as American Idol can be, it ain’t half the train wreck my marriage is. Or was.
Ergo, me showing up at Old Ironsides on Saturday in the guise of a rumpled lecher, trying out a new role as single guy on the prowl, was a bit of a wash. First problem was my pick-up line, “I’m a grumpy old man with a goddamn backache—wanna ease my pain?” OK, so having no posh condominium nearby to invite the target of my carnal desires to visit and examine etchings, I was forced to punt.
Then again, maybe it was the crowd. The first band, Deluxe, a quartet fronted by a charismatically butch singer named Katrina Skalland, brought in a large contingent of women, but they were the kind who look at each other and laugh when you try to talk to them. One large fan, sporting a “Beaver Lover” T-shirt, was chugging from a pitcher of Pabst. “I trust you’ve been following the adventures of Lucky in Jack Elrod’s most excellent Mark Trail strip on the Bee’s comics page,” I half-shouted. She shrugged, then took another long pull from the pitcher. But the music, an energetic power-trio assault that had a post-folkie Violent Femmes on 11 punch, effectively overpowered any awkwardness on my part.
Next up were the Bennys, an animated septet that played the sort of bong-friendly hacky-sack reggae popular on many college campuses. The musicianship was tight, and it articulated elements of classic soul, reggae and rock vibes, but the songs themselves seemed unremarkable, and frontman Bobby Martinez didn’t exude the charisma necessary to transform them into something remarkable. “These guys are like a cross between Jack Johnson and Dave Matthews,” a guy behind me remarked. Yep. But they did pull some nice eye candy into the room.
The headliner, Parlour Dames, brought the Deluxe fan base back in. The singer, Dre, is most charismatic. A dreadlocked icon in the Ani DiFranco mold, she nicely holds up her end of the trio’s instrumental load on acoustic guitar, too. Bassist Jacob Israel Chilton evinced virtuosic chops at times, and drummer Brent Wiggans provided a sensitive and never overpowering rhythm bed. A few of the Dames’ songs even had an anthemic quality, and their rapt audience sang every word. Unfortunately, it was a Sapphic celebration that a certain hound couldn’t feel entirely part of, even if he gives that party his full acceptance and support.