I do not know what was most surprising – that there was an 8-foot-tall saxophone that dwarfed Gordon Gano on stage or a Weber charcoal BBQ in the drum kit? That the Violent Femmes kicked off their May 15 set with “Blister In the Sun”, a track surely confined to encores for all eternity? Or that through 23 songs they beaming out smiles and friendship?
I do know. It was the latter.
What a gift to see a band you’ve never seen live before who have soundtracked many parts of your life, offering up so much camaraderie to the crowd in front of them. In an era overripe with disaffected, mumbled, entitled charisma vacuums who can barely look braying fanbros in the eye, let alone the pretty girl in the front row, The Violent Femmes were up there, comfortable as heck, all smiles and stayed there, starting at “…Sun” rise, and ending at “American Music” set.
There were grins from Brian Ritchie, just (and in my notes I actually use this word) slaying the acoustic bass, leaning off the corner lip of the stage, and imaginarily tipping his hat to all in front of him, grins from new drummer John Sparrow as he laid sticks to the BBQ and looked like he was enjoying every second, grins from Blaise Garza as he honked on his contrabass sax, and grins from Gordon Gano as he joked, after songs and after his violin playing, “I’m sensing that you all cheered when I stopped, is that what just happened? It’s the law of diminishing returns, I guess.”
There were grins between all the classics and the not-so classics: “Gone Daddy Gone”- xylophone solo wahey! – and “Add it Up” – all my teen years rammed into a neat aural package! There were smiles for miles during Kiss Off”, “Country Death Song”, “Old Mother Reagan”, “Jesus Walking On the Water”, “Color Me Once”, the Spencer T Jones’ cover “Run With It”, “Breakin’ Up”… because all so brilliantly busker-y, swamp boogie-ish or country-road dusty and delightful. Step one, I did it for fun, it was a simple way to start. Violent Femmes, I love love love love loved you. \m/
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