Set List: (partial)
Date sent: Thu, 11 Sep 1997 23:44:47 -0400
From: Frank Yao <email@example.com>
Subject: Meeting Nels, Carla and Kevin
Hi there, it's charles, with my long, but not neccesarily long-winded report on the show at Horseshoe Tavern, Monday Sept 8 97
So there he was: the fabulously side-burned Kevin, drummer extraordinare for the world's best band, playing pin-ball undistracted in the crowded front bar. "You selling shirts, man?" I asked. "Well, Bill ususally does that, but, yeah, if you want--just let me finish up." So there we were: me watching him play pin-ball, him going on about all sorts of stuff, like those morons at Virgin (my word, not his), who have given the Fibbers seemingly zero support, financial or otherwise.
Mind-Boggling Aside Number One: Even though the Fibbers are the best band in the world, their drummer, is also their driver.
We mostly talked about other artists, like future touring mates (and my second favourite band), Pavement; former touring mate, Beck Hansen (who, to quote Kevin, is, "One of the only guys I know who deserves to be as big as he is."); and Mike Watt (who's up-coming Rock Opera had him grinning ear to ear.) He gave up props to Nels (who I met after the show) and Layna, using such phrases as "the shit" and "the bomb." Then he got all gracious and polite, asking my name, finding out about where I went to school and where I lived etc, Then he shook my hand and sold me a T-shirt and a Butch CD.
Mind-Boggling Aside Number Two: Even though the Fibbers are the best band in the world, Butch, released on June 1st in America to rave reviews, has yet to be unleasehed onto an unsuspecting Canadian audience.
Then I left him alone and went back to my stool. The opening bandnot the husband and wife puppet show Kevin raved on about--but Crybaby, a five piece playing what I suppose Carla would call "softcore country," started to twang their way through an interminable set.
"That's what you get when the promoters don't know what they're doing," Kevin said, leaning into me so I could hear him over noise, as an obiese couple dressed in too-small all denim outfits bootscootin'buggied up at the front.
As the bar, and really, the Horseshoe is just a bar with a tiny stage, started to fill up--with patrons, and not Fibber fans, sadly--I said to Kevin that I didn't think it was right that a band like the Fibbers weren't, you know, bigger, like, Rock stars or something.
"It's about a lot of stuff, like politics," he said. But before he could elaborate, someone from the bar handed him two stubs and said, "Here, you can use these at the bar for bottles or shots." I stood there, corrected.
Then a lady in her mid-40s with big hair, possibly drunk, or maybe just really stupid, I don't know, wandered over and started poking at and enquiring about the merchandise on hand.
"The Geraldine Fibbers, hmmm...is that a band? Are they playing tonight?" As Kevin rolled his eyes at me and explained stuff to the ladywith amazing constraint, by the way--Sofa, the second crappy band of the night thanked the Fibbers for letting them play.
The lady walked off and Kevin introduced me to Bill, who mysteriously signed my CD, "Chuckie, Thanks for dinner." Carla came out, looking absolutely stunning in her dog collar, "I hate homework" tee and sparkly skirt. She was a lot shorter than most pictures indicate, but then most pictures also fail to capture her amazing good-looks (hope that doesn't sound too creepy) Kevin introduced me, Carla smiled, said hi, signed my CD and shook my hand for (quite literally)a minute--though it was cause she was talking to Bill and distracted. Then she walked off.
Then the lady came back and bought a T-shirt, whcih is not noteworthy in itself, but sometime during the exchange when I was good-mouthing the Fibbers to her, Kevin refered to me as " A friend of the family," which is also insignifigant to you, but really cool to me.
I went up to the front of the stage and staked my claim to the closest physical spot, and wathced the Fibbers set up and tune, like a kid in a candy store. The Fibbers took the stage at around midnight. I was at the front so it was hard to tell, but it appeared as though the night had sold out. Though, as I said earlier, mostly bar patrons, a few fans, I think, and a couple of really good looking lesbians.
Carla complained about the light being too bright--"I can't see their faces"--and was informed that MuchMusic, who was doing a piece on them (finally!!) were taping and that they needed it for two songs. "You Doo Right is the last song, why don't you tape that, it's really good." she said. Then they started playing. Tuffy started it off, then Carla brought things to a halt, drinking down her Nava spring water, before starting The Small song.
After every song, Carla went over to twiddle knobs on the speaker, or tune her bass or guitar, while the band had to stop and change or retune their instruments (As Kevin told me earlier, it's just the five of them, a guitar tech type of guy, and an assistant of sorts.) They played really tight and loud and great (of course), but as I was standing so close, the speakers were actually behind me.
"I don't know if you can do anything about this," Carla said after a song, "but I can't hear any of my vocals."
"Neither can we," shouted someone.
"That's cause you're too close," said Carla, adding, "I mean, but I like that you're close." Nels then smiled and pointed to the speakers. With the lyrics out of the mix, so to speak, the Fibbers proved what great instrumentalists they were, adding new dimension (and volume) to The French Song (originally to be titled, "The Dumb Song," Carla told us.)and Lilybelle. Generally the crowd, despite the the hurricane of sound and general miracle taking place before them, seemed unenthused. It was just me and some other guy who seemed to be getting into it (though, I didn't really have time to look around, you could tell the Fibbers weren't converting the hundred or two hundred gathered, despite their best efforts) Most the set--I was so close, the set list (which I stole) was right at my left arm--consisted of songs from thenew Butch--an album unavailable in Canada.
So there I was, too close to hear any words, but just close enough to see the sweat literally dripping off of Nels' hands as he played at hyper-turbo-excellerated-quadruple time; at one point I thought his right arm would start smoking. He is an absolute master--using a lighting laser gun and an egg-beater among other clever toys. When Nels sat down for "Folks Like Me" and started picking away at his lap steel, he had the entire bar dancing stupid.
"this is the last song," said Carla. "good, Maybe you'll be done warming up by then," yelled a voice from the back in reference to their frequent stops during the set. They ignored the comment and just steam-rolled over "You Doo Right," with Nels pulling out all the stops. They encored with "Richard" and "Outside of Town," where Carla and Nels went solo, tuning their guitars and smiling at each other for a length of time that seemed longer than the actual song. And, like that, they were finished, walking off to loud, if generally polite, applause (not counting my maniacal screaming,that is)
As Nels was packing up his toys and his effects-pedal base, which Kevin made fom him, I got him to sign my CD. He asked my name, shook my hand and we talked a bit about Mike Watt's opera, their fan base, Thurston Moore, some of his old records, and my upcoming Fibbers website. And he listened and packed as I started rummaging through his gear, rather rudely probably. Let me tell you: The man's a class act all the way. When I asked if the Fibbers were going to be playing any Letterman-like variety shows any time soon, his face grew long and he gave me this look as if to say, "what are you, fucking crazy?" Then we shook and I was off. I missed the last subway home and had to sleep at school until I was kicked out by security, at which point I strolled over to the Tim Hortons and stayed the rest of the night. But what a night.
--charles (sorry for the length, but I don't post much)
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