Mike and Jason tipped the scales. When they climbed on stage with Will, Tony, Chris, and me last night, there were more of us onstage than off.
Of course, it’s pretty heartbreaking when no one shows up for your rock show. Especially when you’re playing every Monday night to get people excited and build momentum towards your new record’s release. All you can really do is laugh it off, and play for the small audience as if it was Madison Square Garden. So we did.
The shame of virtually no one coming out for this show (I know: there was a hurricane blowing in) is that it really was a unique, once in a lifetime thing. My New York life collided with my midwestern life, and the result was a beautiful din. Nada keyboardist Will joined Tony — on upright bass — and Chris and me. Everything sounded different: really warm, a little folksy, and kind of oldie-timey. Mike and Jason hopped on stage for “Do It Again” and a cover of Matthew Sweet’s “Girlfriend.” Imagine: two guitars, four vocals, upright bass, and piano. You could hear the sound of smiling right there in the music. (In fact, you can hear it here.)
The next band hadn’t showed by the time we wrapped our set, so we rocked the double encore (the seven people in the room demanded it). Rachel wanted to hear “Dear Elizabeth” (which I’d cut from the set cuz I always play it). Chris and I started it as quietly as possible teasing the sadness out of it. I looked over the empty chairs, through the foggy glass, and out towards Houston Street. I’m pretty sure that song ever sounded better. And then, as The Nadas were trying to negotiate their way on stage before the room really cleared, I snuck in “New York.” Will stepped back on stage, and I thought, ‘Hmmmm, the piano is really gotta be too loud for this song.’ But sure enough, he and Chris found the exact right moments, and the exact right notes.
We all had to suffer through a room-clearing instrumental rock band before enjoying The Nadas acoustic set. My strategy — in lieu of the fact that standing outside in the rain and killing myself seven minutes at a time was out of the question — was to grab a slice of pizza around the corner. I sat there alone for a while, a little sad that the show was so under-attended, a little unsure about whether or not recording and releasing records made any sense any more, a more than a little melancholy from the rain. Then Mike and Chris showed up, and the laughter began.
When we got back to Rockwood — by this point it’s well after one o’clock — the room-clearing instrumental rock band was still at it. So I stepped into the bathroom, sat down on the bench and closed my eyes. Others will call this “passing out.” I call it “taking a nap.” And here’s why. One passes out inadvertently. I closed my eyes with intent.
Anyway, The Nadas did perform… eventually — shortly after a shot of Petron, if I’m not mistaken. And the further shame if all is that they were terrific. Four hours of drinking, empty room or not, they were spot on. Of course, they just wanted to play a few songs and leave, but I wouldn’t let ’em. I kept requesting more. I love “Static” and “Templeton,” but “Coming Home” was the real treat. (Though I’m still lobbying to join ’em on “Kiss Catastrophe.”)
So, yunno, last night kinda sucked. Lemme rephrase that. Last night was great. Our show was top notch. What sucked is that you weren’t there. I know: you have a life, you have dinner plans, must see TV, yada yada yada. And that’s cool. I’m not chastising you (especially you, my Daily Journal readers, cuz most of you are probably not New Yorkers anyway). You do have another chance: The Nadas play Rodeo Bar Wednesday night. And my CD release is November 15th. If that’s empty, well, I’m out.
In the end, Mike, Jason and I found ourselves walking down an empty street in the middle of the night with a slice of pizza in our hands laughing and joking and stumbling and having an excellent time. And that’s good enough for me.