Friday, December 20, 2013

Ending Properly

To paraphrase Tiny Tim, god bless us, every one in Richmond.

I say that because after a day that included driving to southside (thrifting and I got the cutest $1 dress), walking to Broad (interviewing a curator), hearing my name called in the middle of Broad Street (and being unexpectedly handed a gift) and taking my hired mouth out to eat, I wanted something more.

And, god bless this town, I didn't have to look far to find it. The catch was the finality of it.

The Well, the reincarnation of the restaurant Cous Cous smack in the middle of VCU's campus, will soon be no more.

But tonight they were holding their last/one of their last music shows and the lineup looked good enough to get me over there.

That, and I wanted to add to my list of doomed restaurants holding final shows I attend (see: Sprout, Cellar Door). As added incentive, the Well is where I fainted last Valentine's Day, so it holds a unique place in my heart.

The night got off to a fine start when I had to claim to be having an affair with a girlfriend in order to placate a male friend who hadn't seen either of us in a while.

Don't ask.

Before things got overly revealing, the music began with Spacemonster, a lo-fi, bedroom pop one-man project with plenty of looping and catchy songs, most of which had abrupt endings.

While he was playing, I noticed the strangest smell in the room and the only thing I could think of was that it smelled like skunk, which seemed like an unlikely possibility.

That said, toward the end of Spacemonster's set, I heard a guy ask a girl why it smelled like skunk in there.

Good question.

The show had been set up so that as bands were breaking down/setting up, you could go up into the lounge area where Lobo Marino would be playing their world music.

I did just that, joining a few other people to watch their percussion and harmonium-accompanied music being played tucked away in a corner as people joined us one by one.

Percussionist Jameson got so into it in the small space that he was soon shedding his sweater and hat to cool down.

What was interesting was that because of the talking in the other room and the fact that they were up a few stairs and tucked away, you'd never know they were playing unless you came all the way up and could hear their un-amplified sound.

Hidden music, an unexpected treat.

Then just as one of their songs ended, music began in the main room.

Quartet Antiphons played a sort of experimental folk, notable for singer Brian's high warble.

Midway through their set, he said, "Uh-oh, I dropped a semi-translucent pick on the floor," a problem given the white tile floor.

A fan soon found it, allowing them to do a Built to Spill cover that had the drummer wailing but his white cardigan never came off.

Cool is as cool does.

After playing the original "Billowing/Bellowing," Brian dismissed the band. "Give a hand to these guys," he instructed, "Cause they make me sound way better than I do by myself and now I'm gonna play by myself."

When he finished, I went back up to catch another Lobo Marino set and found a couple of friends there, one with gossip to share.

This was their Christmas set, with "O Come All Ye Faithful" and "O Holy Night," both rolled into non-holiday songs for some clever mash-ups.

This time, there were more people listening since it had been announced from the stage that they'd be playing in the lounge.

The secret was out.

By the time Spandrel began playing, some of the earlier crowd had been replaced by newcomers. Given how close we are to the holiday week, I had no doubt that the people who are left in town would continue to arrive, looking for something to do.

What Spandrel had going for them was male/female vocalists, nice harmonies and a lush sound that should have been mic'd better.

A friend came over to stand next to me, complaining that she was trying to find a place in the room where she could best hear the vocals. I told her I thought the vocals were way too low in the mix and that was the problem, not her position.

It's not like I know anything, just that I couldn't hear them well enough, either.

On their last song, another melodic gem perfect for driving music, the ending was abrupt and a bit rough before singer Kylie said goodnight.

Guitarist Timmy was having none of it.

"I can fix this," he said, starting a do-over. "We're gonna end this song properly."

And did they ever. With lots of pedals and effects, they delivered a glorious music-from-a-cave (my favorite, you know) sound that ended with knob turning and feedback.

Now that's what I'm talking about.

After a busy day focused on all the things I had to get done, how perfect to end my evening with friends to talk to and new music to listen to.

It's a shame the Well is almost gone. Tonight was a reminder of how much good music I've seen there.

Hopefully something new will arise from its ashes...with any luck, sans the skunk smell.


  1. the Well closing? Sorry ...maybe bad Karma on them...I still miss Cous Cous...why Cous Cous would close for something like The Well always baffled me. Never had a bad meal at Cous Cous. Some interesting music performed there also..


  2. It was the same owners and a slightly different concept that didn't last long. I did see some great shows at both places, though.