My wife and I first bonded over music.
One day, while walking past my desk, she glanced down at my iPod. Expecting to see classic rock on my playlist, she was surprised to find that I actually listen to music from this century. New music, even. I think the song that was playing at that moment was from The Shins’ Wincing the Night Away album, which had just come out that year.
I might be closer to hip replacement than hip, but I refuse to let my music tastes atrophy. Like a shark that needs to keep moving to stay alive, I constantly have to have new music.
Later on, a group of co-workers, Kim among them, were in my car. I had one of my favorite bands, Fountains of Wayne, playing. Usually when I have FoW playing people ask who there are. Kim was actually singing along. She knew them and she liked them.
I was in love. It was as if a dam had burst. We started talking music, movies, TV, and books and we haven’t stopped since.
Now that we are married, I can sum up our budgeting situation this way: we go to the movies and the opera and we buy books and music. If there’s any money left over we pay the rent and buy food.
Our marriage is still in its infancy, but we’ve already seen shows by The Shins, the Raveonettes, the New Pornographers, Matthew Sweet, and a brief set by the Fountains of Wayne, who were opening that night for Aimee Mann. At some shows, my wife and I have 20-plus years on the crowd’s average age. At The Shins show, we were sitting on the floor at the very back of the venue to rest our weary knees when a staffer took pity on us and put us in the handicapped section, allowing us to sit like royalty watching the show over the heads of the huddled masses.
This past week, we had back-to-back shows. First up was FoW, this time headlining in support of their new album Sky Full of Holes. The show was at the Troubadour in Hollywood. If you’ve never been to the Troubadour, I highly recommend it. It’s so intimate it’s like having a band play in your living room.
The band was fantastic and even though they played for 80 minutes, twice as long as the first time we had seen them, I wished they had played longer. Singer Chris Collingwood, with his short, spikey gray hair is looking much like Malcom McDowell; bassist Adam Schlesinger, looking like your company tech guy, was stoic as a bass player should be; and guitarist Jody Porter’s long hair shot off in impossible angles.
By the way, in his career Adam has been nominated for an Academy Award, a Golden Globe, a Tony, an Emmy, and three Grammy awards (winning once).
As equally entertaining was the crowd – the biggest collection of nerdy, four-eyed, IT- and accountant-looking guys and gals you could ever see in one spot. FoW writes songs about the struggles and heartbreaks of white collar men and women, and this crowd fit the music to a t. There was Miss Lonely Hearts sitting at the bar by herself, slightly drunk and swaying to the music; there was the well past middle-age guy with the horrible hair dye job and his companion, a blonde with fake boobs and fake lips in a low-cut leopard print; there was mullet-hair boy and his geeky princess girlfriend; and, my personal favorite, the short-order cook who looked like he was just a few days out of San Quentin, hawking his book “A Poet’s Guide to Bars” in between flinging burgers. At one point I counted how many people at the bar were wearing glasses – seven out of 10. (I should note that my wife and I both wear glasses). FoW’s crowd is both nerdy and myopic.
Despite having gotten to bed at about 2 a.m., we were back at it the next night. This time for the rollout of a new wine label – House Band Wines. The guy behind House Band, Patrick Krutz, is trying to market his wines to music venues and cross market them by promoting up-and-coming bands. He also has a clever single-serve, collapsible wine pouch, a sort of Capri Sun for adults.
The event was held in SIR Sound Stage, a recording studio and rehearsal hall that has seen the likes of Katy Perry and No Doubt, and catered by “Chef to the Stars” Frank Miller. Miller’s clientele has included Mary J. Blige, Hallie Berry, and Jim Carrey.
The venue was populated with music and food and beverage journalists, music industry types, hipsters, and women that my wife thought came from an escort service.
As part of the cross-promotion effort, House Band held a contest to find bands to help promote. Out of 350 or so entries, 10 bands were picked and two got to play at the wine rollout – Hermes and Suddyn. Prior to the event, I listened to both bands’ music on Myspace and was really impressed with Hermes, a trio out of the United Kingdom.
At the rollout, I kept looking for Hermes. I spotted what I was sure to be an Englishman – he was thinner and paler than the rest of the crowd. I kept trying to approach the guy, but he was nervously darting off away from the party. I finally caught up to him in the hallway and found out that yes, he was with Hermes. His name was Tom Jacob, the band’s singer. With money being tight for an unsigned band and a trip to America being quite expensive, the band sent Tom to represent them in a solo acoustic performance. With his band’s hopes on his shoulders, Tom had four days in America to get the word out about their music. I found him to be quite bright and a bit shy. I found his nervousness endearing.
Despite the pre-show jitters, Tom delivered an energetic, earnest set and was in fine voice. He did himself and his bandmates proud. (A quick note: four of the band’s songs can be found on iTunes. You’ll thank me later). Afterwards, when I told my wife that two attractive women were with Tom, she said “Of, course they are. He’s adorable. He looks like he just escaped from Hogwarts.” Alas, Tom was last seen alone with his guitar case heading out the door. I’m hoping the next time we see him it’ll be at a show someplace like the Troubadour in support of a newly released album.
Suddyn was a clearly a hit with the 20- and 30-something crowd, but I was put off by the singer’s “look at me, I’m a rock star” attitude. They had a good sound, but their lyrics were a bit trite. It should be noted that mine was apparently a minority opinion that night – the crowd was enthusiastic towards them.
The night was a success. We had great food and wine, got in some great people-watching, and we found an underdog band to root for.