"9.28.02, The Great American Music Hall, San Francisco"
"9.30.02, Blackbird Cafe, Portland"
"10.1.02, Crocodile Cafe, Seattle"
In late September – early October there was a miraculous alignment of the planets that resulted in a glorious 4-day ballboy — Cinerama bender for Imaginary Girl Liz. As some might already know, I’ve been a massive fan of both ballboy and Cinerama (you remember my UK gig reviews, right?) and the bands’ recent tour schedules not only offered me the opportunity to see them on the same bill, but also in three different cities in four days (ok, that last part was made a reality with the help of a flight to Oakland and a roadtrip to Portland).
With this being ballboy’s first tour in this region, they did their job impeccably. As I looked around the crowd after each ballboy performance, I saw that I was surrounded by the giddy faces of fresh Gordon McIntyre converts. Over the course of my three evenings with them, they covered a majority of songs from their debut album (Club Anthems 2001) and recent EP (All The Records On The Radio Are Shite) with a light dusting of new songs ("avant garde music," "where do the nights of sleep go to when they do not come to me," "i wonder if you're drunk enough to sleep with me tonight") from their upcoming album, a guide for the daylight hours.
Sure, their amassment of converts could be explained by the witty and insightful storyboard lyrics and addictive mix of jangly guitar/piercing keyboards/simplistically complex drums/sublime bass/Scottish brogue… but it could also be explained by the adorable nervous showmanship of lead signer Gordon. His coy pregnant pause in the midst of a wall of sound in one song, or the cute story about a possibly embarrassing run in with the Queen before another, left me with a feeling of warm fuzziness because I probably just saw the nicest Scottish musicians I’ll ever encounter. And if you weren’t there… don’t fret that you missed any one of the shows — go buy their album and re-read the eloquent, more in-depth recap of the Seattle performance by our very own Imaginary Boy Bob Vitrarius.
What could possibly follow such a performance? Although for some of my friends — understandably — the answer was nothing (they played it safe and left after the ballboy set rather than running the risk of ruining the aftertaste of a performance that left them nearly speechless), for a packed Crocodile Café, (and for me) it was Cinerama. Just as with the two dates that I caught of their brief UK tour this past summer, the set list remained the same from state to state. A healthy dose of Cinerama ("Cat Girl Tights," "Careless," "Wow," "Quick Before it Melts") and Wedding Present ("It’s a Gas," "Dalliance," "Kansas," "Brassneck") songs greeted the eager ears that night — in addition to a stunning display of a one-man stand-up routine heckle retorts by our hero David Gedge. Most notably, 97.3% of the heckling was from women (a component that David said that he will include as a necessity in the rider contract moving forward)! I am sure I don’t even have to retell the circumstances surrounding his use of, "We’ve got a a nutter," or his inquiry into the American over-usage of, "Just kidding" for you to understand that he was "on" this evening.
"Wait. One… two… three… four Cinerama band members on the stage. Where is Sally?" the audience wondered. Upon investigation it was discovered that Sally (keyboardist and back-up vocalist) had decided to sit this one out and remain in the UK (and really, who can blame her?), leaving Terry (bassist) to fill in on back-up vocals while continuing to astonish on the bass. Upon debate afterwards, my fellow concert-goers and I surmised that the lack of keyboards didn’t hurt the performance, but rather allowed the group to present a more rockin’ take on the Cinerama songs we know and love. And another reason my friends should have stuck around? Cinerama’s version of "Corduroy" in Seattle left my knees weak. It was surely the liveliest version I’ve seen to date, with David’s performance best described as ballistic. He wrestled with the guitar, guiding the audience through an entranced state of consciousness, hanging on his every jab and spasm.