Thursday, February 18, 2010

From Frittes to Ringing Ears

My ears are ringing because of the New Rock Church of Fire. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

They were just fine when I met a friend for drinks and frittes at Can Can late this afternoon. At our last few meet-ups, he had been abstaining but apparently a couple of prolonged periods of being snowed-in with his two young'uns had sent him back to drink. As we sat on our stools directly in front of the breads and pastries, we were both amazed at the continuous stream of customers coming in to buy baguettes, loaves and such; my friend was so inspired that he purchased one to take home himself.

We both love people-watching at Can Can for the sheer variety of humankind that frequents the place. I had competition in the terrific tights category today, with several servers displaying unusual patterns worth admiring. As we prepared to leave, I offered our stools to a familiar face from the Virginia Museum who looked about to burst. Seems he'd made an important acquisition for the museum today and was about to have a drink to celebrate; there's nothing quite like the excitement of a true art geek. We were leaving our seats to worthy bottoms.

Then I was off to my Modern Romance class for part 3: Broken Hearts, 1960-80. That period was all about when things don't work out, which in this case means bad buildings. Much of the architecture of this period is eminently forgettable, the Whitney Museum in NYC being a perfect example. Luckily, there was the occasional reprieve like the Sydney Opera House to keep architectural hope alive; even during the period of broken hearts, it's essential to know that something better will come along. Next week is the last class and I, for one, am hoping for happy ending.

My last stop was The Camel to meet my music buddy Andrew and see three bands. Except that the bill had been extended to four bands because of an unexpected band traveling through town. I'd wanted to see Benvolio, once part of We Know, Plato! and a guy with a beautiful voice and mad piano skills. It was different hearing him without the backing of a band, but no less enjoyable. He closed with a haunting version of "Hallelujah."

He was followed by the New Rock Church of Fire, a DC band who had been a last-minute addition to the bill. I should have been warned when they began their set by saying "Earplugs are available up front." My complaint with them wasn't how loud they were but how poorly mic'd they were; the vocals were all but lost under the instruments. It's a shame when all you can hear is noise, not music. Fortunately, there was a guy in a plaid shirt dancing in a way that defies description to every note of the noise and he provided excellent entertainment value to the audience behind him, compensating somewhat for what was being done to our ears.

From that outpost of suburbia, Fairfax, we heard Kid Architecture and in comparison, their set was beautifully mic'd. Incubus-like vocals with Editors-like guitars and Coldplay-like keyboards, their volume was eminently more listenable. They even brought free CDs with which to woo the crowd; Andrew was particularly taken with the CD's title, PhilosoRaptor.

I've seen headliners At the Stars on numerous occasions and recommend them to fans of Brit-pop. They usually include a cover in every set and tonight's was a superb version of The Railway Children's "Every Beat of the Heart," a terrific song, even if it is a couple of decades old. I did have to wonder how many in the audience even knew it was a cover, though.

Not that it mattered, really. It was the perfect song to end the evening with and my bleeding ears enjoyed every single word.

1 comment:

  1. They had earplugs up front?? That would have saved me a splitting headache later.