The Barenaked Ladies descended on Texas on Thursday, April 10 with plans for shows inHouston, Austin, and Dallas before the weekend was out. Being a huge BNL fan and a Texasresident, this would be considered my version of heaven. To steal from a beer commercial,"It just doesn't get any better than this." For those of you accessing this pagefrom the Music Review link, let me direct you to the Barenaked Corner, which is my little place on the web dedicated toBNL. There you can find much more information on the band and descriptions of shows I'veseen outside of TX.
The long weekend started off with an instore performance at Cactus Music and Video onShepperd in Houston on Thurs. at noon. The nice folks at Popeye's supplied chicken andbiscuits, but unfortunately, did not think to save some for the band. The guys had a goodtime with chicken and finger-lickin' jokes at the start of the set. They played only sixsongs, but sounded amazing and gave a real taste of their humor and showmanship to geteveryone ready for the full length shows to come. This event was sponsored by The Buzz (who also sponsored the Austin show), but Stevemanaged to slide in a plug for the Houston Earth Day event that was being sponsored by KRBE.
The songs played were "Shoebox", "Hello City", "AlternativeGirlfriend" (country version), "Jane", "The Old Apartment", and"Brian Wilson". Suspiciously missing was the almost obligatory "If I had$1M". I'm wondering if this is a trend that will be carried into future shows. Thebanter of the show was classic BNL. A CD store provides miles of joking humor, as the guysindicated that it would be easy to steal things while they distracted the staff. Also, Eddiscussed a contest for their new album cover with the winners being posters of CDs thatCactus had hanging overhead. Ed indicated that they would take a vote, but to keep in mindthat the CD would be called "Spice". They proceeded into a rendition of "IfYou Want To Do Our Artwork" in Spice Girl fashion and then described how each one ofthem had a Spice Girls counterpart. Another short, but notable, comment was Kevin pointingout that his microphone was different than everyone elses' and that he could make wackyshapes with his. Ed said he had gotten it special for him, and we all cracked up whenKevin said "This is the best Christmas ever".
Well, they were off to a great start, but the full length show in Austin was up next. Alittle inclement weather in the morning caused the venue change to the Steamboat on 6thSt. instead of the Backyard, which is an outdoor venue. The Odds were on tour with BNL once again,and played a great set and got the crowd ready. BNL came onstage with "HelloCity" and the crowd was already singing along. They played acoustic versions of"Yoko" and "Enid" before moving back into their regular format for therest of the show (see setlist). The banter consisted of a badBBQ experience that they had had earlier that day, their first trip to the US for SXSW in1991, a Devil's Haircut rendition based on a Kid N Play reference, a few Beatles jokes dueto a poster in the venue coupled with a BBQ song to the tune of "Imagine", andfinally remarking that they would be in Houston the next day at Buffalo Nugget (reallyBayou) Park with special guests Wang Chung. They lit into a version of Love Shack,replacing "love" with "Wang", and then Steve impressed everyone withknowing every word to "Dance Hall Days". "$1M" made it's way back intothe show during the 1st encore, and they closed up with "Shoebox" and left thecrowd begging for more.
So, two days of BNL and I am exhilarated, yet exhausted. I made the mistake of drivingback to Houston and getting home at 5am (after getting a speeding ticket in the lovelyspeedtrap of Elgin, TX). The next day, I had about 20 people meeting at my place at noonto go to the KRBE Earth Day Festival in downtown Houston. We get there, missing theopening act of Erykah Badu, but obviously not missing much, as we are told that she didtwo songs and left the stage due to an incorrect tape. Next was Wang Chung who played awhopping four songs to a backing tape, two of which were different versions of"Everybody Have Fun Tonight". The guitarist was not even plugged in for theelectric numbers (and there was no wireless antenna to be found, either).
Needless to say, the crowd was ready to be entertained by the time BNL came on. I amguessing that there were a couple thousand in the crowd, most of which were there for Toad the Wet Sprocket or hadjust stopped by because it was a nice day. BNL hit the stage and played the majority oftheir normal set, making cracks about Earth Day, and had the crowd chanting "Pullyour underwear out of your crack for the good of the earth". Everyone was dancing andthere was a lot more singing along than I had expected here in the deep south. When theyclosed with "Barenaked Rap" everyone was cheering for an encore, but thefestival format did not allow it. I personally feel that BNL made a dramatic impact onlots of people who had never heard of them before!!! Friends of mine that were big Toadthe Wet Sprocket fans commented that, although a talented performance, Toad didn't have achance after BNL's energy and showmanship.
Got a pretty good night's sleep on Saturday and then off to Dallas for the Deep EllumShow. Once again the Odds were back and this was their last night touring with BNL, so youknow something crazy and wonderful would happen. After a mixup at the airlines for some oftheir equipment, the Odds hit the stage using some of BNLs stuff and thanking BNL's staffand crew for their cooperation. The Odds have some really great songs, and I would reallyrecommend their CD Nest which has "Someone Who Is Cool", "Make YouMad", and "Nothing Beautiful", all very pleasant clever, pop songs thatrange from the hard edge to ballads. Changing pace a bit, as they have been doing at everyshow since Las Vegas, they also did a cool cover of the 50s song "Only theLonely", announcing that they are rehearsing for the day when they become a weddingband. Complete with acoustic guitar (Craig Northey) and warbled vocals (Steven Drake) theonly things missing from this image are the powder blue tuxedos with ruffled shirts. Also,during one number, Ed joined the drummer, adding a new percussion element with atambourine and stick. For a few short moments, Steve and Jim dashed on stage and dancednaked behind Ed. They were covered mostly by the drums and Ed, but the crowd definitelygot the message. During several other songs, extra voices could be heard as Ed and Stevewere backstage goofing around with a microphone. It's cool to see the opening band andheadliner getting along so playfully.
BNL came on to a raving crowd and did pretty much the same setlist as the Austin show. Craig from the Odds added backing vocals for one song,"This is Where it Ends". Lots of the banter had to do with Steve commenting onthe fact that he didn't have his real penis that night, that he was using a smallerreplica and that the original was in a safe deposit box. He threw the banter to Ed whomade up this song about his dad throwing him out at age 12, and how "business menwould pay top dollar for someone his age". After Steve made a dramatic leap fromTyler's drum rise to the main stage, Tyler launched into the entire Van Halen's"Jump" before passing out on the floor and being covered with a Canadian flag."$1M" found Steve wearing a green dress and dropping his pants and Ed in amonkey mask lifting the skirt to show Tyler Steve's butt. The show ended with"Shoebox" as the second encore, as per the usual BNL outing.
All in all, a very memorable set of shows and a wonderfully exhausting weekend. If onlyall weekends were this cool, but I think that would be more fun than human beings areallowed to have. I should have my fill of them, but guess what? I've already got plans tosee them in Atlanta on May 3rd (Midtown Festival)and North Carolina on May 31st and June 1st. I'm glad to see BNL getting so much attentionthis far south. Seeing them and hearing them on the radio certainly makes living in Texasmore fun.
On That Note, I'm outta here......
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