Monday, April 18, 2011

Mixing Memory and Desire at Globehopper

If you ask me to celebrate your birthday with you, I am going to suggest food and music.

So when a friend asked if I'd share his birthday with him, I mentioned an interesting show tonight. When he quickly agreed to that, I suggested dinner first. He was in.

Next thing I know he's shouting up my name from the sidewalk to my open windows, asking what time he should pick me up. Plans are so much more easily made in warm weather.

He wanted 821 Cafe for his birthday meal and I was happy to accommodate. As a nod to the occasion, we sat at a booth; it felt a bit odd for me.

In a rare food twist, he ordered my usual black bean nachos (after quizzing me on their make-up and satiety level) and I got an enormous salad covered in turkey; its strength was in the array of veggies it contained (squash, broccoli, cucumbers, tomatoes, sprouts, red onion) and a decent amount of chunks in the bleu cheese dressing.

And although it seemed mirror-like to be watching him eating my nachos on the other side of the table, he allowed me a few well-loaded chips despite me making fun of him for eating them with his fork

"Well, it looks like a salad," he claimed, referring to all the lettuce and tomato on top. Lame. Nachos are finger food, friend.

Because we were eating fairly early to make the show, the $2 burger crowd was just beginning to roll in as we were finishing up.

After dinner, we sat in his car for a while discussing his love life (me playing devil's advocate and him eventually snapping at me) before heading down to Globehopper Coffee for music. Amazingly, the show had started on time so we missed the first few minutes,

Not wanting to interrupt, we came in through the side door and I scored a prime bench with cushions while he put the finishing touch on his birthday meal with coffee and a cookie (peanut butter drizzled in chocolate with marshmallow).

The chalkboard overhead caught the attention of us both.

April is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.

Nothing like a little T.S. Elliott to set the tone for the April birthday boy. It was the lilac imagery that sucked me in.

Dave Watkins had opened with his array of dulcitar sounds (picking, strumming, knocking, blowing) being layered over each other until he achieved a lushness of sound once inconceivable for one person. As I told my friend, how often do you get to hear a one-man dulcitar band on your birthday? Stick with me, kid.

During the break, I caught up with some friends who'd shown up, one of whom, I learned, is moving to Seattle next Tuesday. I was glad to have a chance to hear about his plans and say goodbye in person.

Next up was another one-man (Zachary) band, from North Carolina this time, and he said he called this project Lost Trail. With just a guitar and effects, he created an ambient drone sound that swirled around our heads.

The funny part came when his volume and tempo went from mid-range to incredibly loud and fast shredding. A nearby girl working on a computer about jumped out of her seat and looked to me as if to say, what the hell? I smiled back as she put her fingers over her ears. Clearly, she intends to have some hearing left when she's my age.

After only one song, Zachary said, "That's it. I'm tired" and was joined onstage by the three members of More States, a band from Texas. Zachary played glockenspiel to their two guitars and drums and we were treated to some soaring post-rock, pleasing me no end.

When they finished, they were joined by locals Dave Watkins on guitar and Joon Kim on violin, who jumped right in to play along to music they had never heard before. As I had predicted in advance, Joon and his violin ended up near the floor.

The soundscape swelled even further with the addition of those two as the assemblage of musicians filled Globehopper with more sound than it has undoubtedly ever experienced. And not a vocal in earshot.

Meanwhile, the birthday boy was having a wonderful time, snapping pictures, meeting my friends and enjoying the music with his eyes closed (although when Dave started blowing into his dulcitar, I elbowed him to ensure that he saw this odd bit of musical business). Birthdays should be enjoyable.

And while he thanked me for my brilliant birthday ideas and card, he sounded most sincere when thanking me for helping him talk through his love life issues.

Too bad I couldn't wrap a bow around that gift.

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