Monday, July 25, 2011

Birthday Presence

I freely admit to disappointment if I go to a birthday party and there's no cake.

At The Richmond Scene's two-year party tonight, the cupcakes were huge, there were two kinds and they had been baked by the mom of Chris Payne, TRS's founder. Cake was present.

But most people were there for music, not cake. The four-band bill promised some excellent variety over the course of the evening.

Arriving at The Camel mere seconds before the bands started, I slid over to the bar for some bar food, planning to move to the stage side of the room after I ate.

I had a clear shot of the stage when Dogs on Main Street (aka Mac) took it. It was maybe the third time I'd seen him and I continue to be impressed with how invested in his performances he is.

As I watched and ate, I had a steady rotating cast of friends stop by to say hi as they passed by from the other side. It was like playing musical dinner companions without asking to play.

Then there are the friends who seem to sniff you out when you have, say, black bean nachos, and then claim to feel guilty when you insist they have some.

No, really, I won't judge you for helping me with my nachos.  I'm happy to have the help.

Eating accomplished, I asked the bartender for my check, only to be told, "No, you can't leave."

There's always one bully at a birthday party. Anyway, he relented.

I arrived on the stage side of the room just as Dave Watkins began playing.

After having recently raved about Dave's debut CD, due out in two weeks, here, it was nice to hear some live improvisation on the heels of that.

From my perch on the wall, I had a great view of both Dave and the people around me who had never seen him before.

One by one I watched them nudge each other ("Man, look at what he's doing!") as they tried to figure out how one guy was making so much sound ("Can you see him?" one guy asked incredulously of his buddy).

Pay attention, boys, you may learn something.

Between sets I caught up with various friends and was introduced to a guy I see at shows everywhere. He said the same of me, so we thought it about time we met.

Baseball-sized vanilla and chocolate cupcakes were passed around the room for the cake-obsessed (I wasn't the only one, it turned out) and the merely festive.

When Snowy Owls were introduced, it was with the admonishment to move closer because, "These guys are a rock band."

I would be more specific and say they are of the nu-gaze mode, with lots of fuzz and moody vocals.

My pleasure comes from lead singer/guitarist Matt, whose inner shoegaze rock god always comes out with this band, but also because I am rabid about the "music from a cave" sound.

In a new twist, bassist Allen Bergendahl had me mesmerized tonight with his contribution to the band's essence.

There were some screaming bass lines that epitomized what I like about the band's sound and the quality of the sound was so much better than it had been at their last show.

By the time their set was over, the air conditioning had chilled our little group to the point that we joined the smokers outside just to warm up.

No establishment has re-calibrated their thermostats since it stopped being 120 degrees in the shade, making dressing for summer problematic indoors after a while.

When I said goodbye to a girlfriend, she gave me a look. "You're leaving before me? Wait, where are you going?"

She didn't believe me when I said home.

Truth be told, I'd celebrated The Richmond Scene, enjoyed three excellent sets of music and had a cupcake.

I could leave the birthday party happy.

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