elliott louisville, ky 4/6/99

Chris Phillips - babymac@home.com

April 6, 1999 - Headliners Music Hall - Louisville, Kentucky

WOW! Where do I begin? Up until yesterday, I had only seen him perform
live twice on television. The first time was on the Academy Awards. It
was just him and an acoustic guitar then. He seemed very nervous. Sang
a verse or two and then was off the stage. He was immediately followed
by Celine Dion, accompanied by a full orchestra and smoke machines,
thumping her chest in this ridiculous way. Of course, he lost. The
second time I saw him was on Saturday Night Live. He did one song,
performed solidly and was done. Not an outstanding performance...merely

Yesterday I left work at 3 pm for Louisville. The doors at Headliners
Music Club were due to open at 7:30 pm (Eastern). We arrive at the
venue around 7:15, munching down our McDonald's dinner as fast as we
can. The opening band was playing wiffle ball out in the parking lot
next to the tour bus. We go inside. The club is NICE. Clean
bathrooms, two bars, a great stage and a balcony with a wonderful view.
We go to the balcony. As we sit there, sipping a beer waiting for the
show to begin...we look out the door next to the stage. Through the
window, we can see him. Elliott Smith is now out there playing catcher
in the wiffle ball game. My wife convinces me to go talk to him. I go
out through the front door and wait at the end of the tour bus.
Torturing myself...should I go say hello? I had my "Roman Candle" CD
and a Sharpie ready. I nearly chickened out, but I finally I got up the
guts to say something. I walked between the building and the tour bus
towards him. He does a bit of a double take as he sees me coming. I
wave my CD at him, just to let him know I wasn't a psycho with a gun. I
ask him "Would you mind autographing my CD?" He seems only slightly
inconvenienced... "Uhh...sure." Almost as if he didn't have the heart
to say no. The entire wiffle ball game comes to a stop. I apologize
profusely. He shakes my hand and asks me my name. He signs the CD and
I tell him how I drove up from Nashville to see him. I missed him in
Nashville because I flew to Portland, Oregon the same day. "Oh,
really?" he says. You can tell he's done this a million times before.
He's shorter than I am. I never expected to be looking down at him.
He's very skinny and has a weak handshake...or maybe that was just me
because I was so nervous. He's got dark black hair and bright blue
eyes. After I get the CD back, I thank him and tell him how much I'm
looking forward to his show. Overall, he was quite nice to me. He
seemed very confident and not at all shy.

The opening band was called Junior High. They were from Portland and
they were pretty good. Sort of a Jam/Clash feel to them. When Elliott
comes on, he's got the drummer from Junior High with him. The club is
pretty much packed by this point. It's just Elliott with an electric
guitar (looked like a hollow body Gibson), his bassist (who looked quite
a lot like Paul Westerburg), and the drummer. Now most of his music on
his albums is acoustic, slower, quiet. The performances I've seen
before are okay. ...He comes out and absolutely KILLS. His voice is
high, clear, perfect. He's nailing all the notes. He's tearing the
hell out of his guitar and just hammering out the songs. They were
probably twice as fast as the album versions. One song immediately
followed by another...just bam, bam, bam. The crowd loves it (so do
I). Most of his songs on his CDs are about three minutes. At this
speed he finishes his show quickly. He does one encore. He played a
few songs I didn't recognize (and I own all his albums)...one that had a
line like "Can I walk you to the bus stop?" (Later I found out this was
13 by Big Star.) He stopped a verse or so into it, laughing and saying
"I've played it too many times." I have no idea what it was. He played
Neil Young's "Harvest Moon." I loved that one, but he didn't do the
cool guitar harmonics. The show was amazing, really. People were
screaming for more, singing along, dancing. I was screaming...I thought
I might go hoarse. I haven't been hoarse from a concert since I was
15! It absolutely kicked ass. I was so glad I went.

By the time we got back to Nashville it was about 1:45 am (Central). I
got to sleep around 2:30. I feel a little tired, but I'm SO glad I went
and I'm even more happy I got his autograph. I'm amazed he's not hugely
famous by now...I feel like he will be soon. With a show like that, how
could he not be? He performed the last half of his set by himself, and
STILL kept the audience enthralled. Amazing.

The Setlist:
Ballad Of Big Nothing
Independence Day
Speed Trials
Bled White
Waltz #2 (XO)
Cupid's Trick
Baby Britain
Sweet Adeline
Pictures Of Me
Bottle Up And Explode
Taking The Easy Way Out

13 (Big Star)
Harvest Moon (Neil Young)
Say Yes