Sunday, August 26, 2012

A Criminally Fun Food Fight for Girls

It always comes down to music.

Sure, I could talk about the dinner I had at Lunch (where it was standing room only busy), the Wolftrap white blend, the French onion soup, the witty banter with a favorite recluse.

For that matter, I could  ramble on about "Farewell, My Queen," the French movie we saw afterwards, the opulence of the Versailles setting and costumes contrasted with the harsh reality of Marie Antoinette's time (dead rats, bug bites).

Favorite line: "Words are all I have. I wield them well."

But instead, I'll focus on the show.

Foodfight RVA was a stroke of brilliance - have a show of bands comprised only of people who work together at local restaurants and make it a benefit.

Come on, we all know most servers are really working to support their art or music habit, so it made perfect sense.

And the worthy beneficiary was Girls Rock RVA, the non-profit that holds a week-long empowerment camp every summer to teach girls 8-14 how to play an instrument, write a song and perform it.

Presenting the show was Quickness, the local delivery service that will bring food from a number of restaurants directly to your door.

And they were the first band up.

Just the Tip was a straight-ahead punk band, thrashing hard as they played a song called "Ophelia" about "a lady in Church Hill who always orders barbecue from Alamo and wears a turban."

Just another customer immortalized.

Black Sheep's band was Angry Chef and the Lowboys, a trio in chef coats and aprons all on acoustic guitars (and harmonica).

They got points for clever songwriting, singing "We Got the Kitchen Blues," "86 Bacon" (a dire situation if ever there was one) and perhaps the funniest, "Fry, Baby, Fry."

As you might guess, it sounded a lot like the Beatles "Cry, Baby, Cry" except it had lyrics like, "Kevin's in the kitchen cooking food for the people" and the customer lament, "They want switches and everything on the side."

Some of the women who'd led Girls Rock RVA this year performed next, doing the camp's theme song, but only after informing the crowd what Girls Rock was about.

This year's attendance was 44 (double the first year's) and their final performance was at the Hippodrome.

Hearing about their success made me glad I'd made a donation at the door.

Lamplighter's six-piece Funky Crumpets were next and they introduced themselves as, "We're those dudes who take way too long to make your sandwich."

The crowd laughed. "But they taste real good, don't they?" Much cheering and applause followed because they do.

They got off to a slow start but the guitarist locked into a groove and the singer (who'd said beforehand that she had no idea what she was going to sing) let loose and before long the crowd shut up and took note.

Ipanema's band turned out to be only Jonathan who said his missing band mates were "either working or already playing."

With typical Ips ingenuity, he proceeded to play guitar, loop it, get up and go play drums, loop that and return to guitar.

In other words, he filled in for everybody else, getting an A for effort alone.

Sticky Rice's trio Bonsai were energetic and melodic and especially appropriate for the evening's theme, given they had a female guitarist and drummer.

Duo Fat Side Up came from Alamo Barbecue and they played covers, one from Sublime and another from Fiona Apple ("Criminal").

For their last song, the singer announced he had brought ribs to eat as he sang, and he also waved bones over his head as he finished each one.

Returning from the bathroom mid-show, I ran into a favorite guitarist/server who sweatily informed me, "I'm too old for this shit. I used to do these shows and I remember how they smell."

It was more than a tad warm in Strange Matter tonight, but then a good percentage of the restaurant world was in the house.

Favorite t-shirt: "It's a lifestyle, not a fad."

Selba's Pregenators had a front man who was dying to show off his moves.

Dressed in low-slung jeans, an open black vest and medallion, he showed off his best pelvic thrusts while singing to a bass and drums.

The show closed with the Roosevelt's quartet (who got my vote for best band name), A Consensual Evening with Winston Stablock.

With a smoke machine obliterating bartender and drummer T, they pulled off two well-crafted R & B songs (written by Josh, natch) with him and fellow server Brandon singing back up.

And while I'd heard Mark singing along in the kitchen of the Roosevelt before, I had no idea he had it in him to be a rock star.

Favorite lyric: "I couldn't have you, I had to get you."

After a whole lot of applause, Mark closed by saying, "One more time for the smoke machine" and don't you know the crowd gave it up for the machine.

The audience had thinned considerably by the time the judges got up to award prizes.

The rib-eating Fat Side Up took third place (accepting, the singer said, "I'll bring more ribs next year"), Angry Chef and the Lowboys took second (no doubt for their clever lyrics and only acoustic guitars) and Bonsai took first (maybe being two thirds female helped their odds).

Personally, I'd have also given awards to the two people who had never been on stage before and totally won over the audience.

The guitarist for Funky Crumpets and the singer for A Consensual Evening were both playing their first shows ever.

So, like the aspiring musicians of Girls Rock RVA, they'd practiced, screwed up their nerve and taken the stage only to impress strangers and friends alike.

Because, let's face it, if you want to get good at music (or cooking or anything), you gotta make it a lifestyle, not a fad.

That's the only way I got so good at eating and going to shows.

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