Date sent: Sun, 20 Jul 1997 16:08:49 -0400 (EDT)
Date: Sun, 30 Nov 1997 20:04:09 -0500
From: Randall Hixson <email@example.com>
Subject: My trip to Birmingham
Here's an account of my trek to Birmingham for those of you bored enough to read it.
My daughter & I left Port Charlotte at about 5:30 after Thanksgiving dinner. We didn't really pack or anything, just hopped in the car and headed north. The trip to Atlanta went smoothly, with the exception of a delay caused by an accident on I-75. A southbound truck loaded with Christmas trees crossed the median and the northbound lanes, ending up embedded in a stand of pine trees. Kind of ironic, I thought.
I dropped my daughter off (no kids allowed at the show) at her friend's house in Atlanta and then made my way to Birmingham. An early start and a change of time zones allowed me to arrive around 1:00. I had a rough idea of the Nick's address, so I drove around blindly in a search that allowed me to see much of the city, including the Vulcan statue.
I finally found the trendy, club-laden part of town, but no sign of the Nick. I picked up the local paper, assuming that it would have an ad for the show. Sure enough, page 3 of the entertainment section had a 1/3 page color photo of the band, and they were picked as the "best bet" for the upcoming week in B'ham music.
Thanks to the article, I was able to locate the club, which sits at an uncomfortable angle from a rather hairy intersection. I managed to negotiate the hills and was relieved to see the Fibbers name emblazoned on the sign out front. Mission accomplished, I headed into town to find a room.
Someone at the club told me that the doors would open at 9, so I was there before almost anyone else. I saw the band's white van & trailer in the parking lot and thought to myself, "It's really gonna happen!" Sorry, but I've been disappointed a few times earlier in the year. I noticed that the sign had been changed to say something about L.A. dinners. Those Fibbers seem to be big fans of the anagram.
I walked through the front door of the club, which seems to be held up by millions of staples. Every square inch of the building is covered with posters, fliers and bumperstickers. I pulled up a stool at the bar and ordered a Guinness. I read the posters on the wall while the foam settled on my Mason jar of beer; my favorite read "No clove cigarettes!"
It took my eyes a minute to adjust to the darkness, but I heard the racket of a pinball machine to my right and just knew that it'd be Kevin. Yep.
Carla, Leyna and Nels were sitting at the bar next to me, but they seemed engrossed in conversation, so I just sipped my beer for a few minutes. There wasn't much going on, so I amused myself by watching Carla apply her makeup at the bar. I don't know if there was "a touch of rouge," but she put on some tasteful lipstick and expertly drew some cat-eye thingies on the corners of her eyelids. I also noticed that her hair was black, instead of the red 'do she'd sported in July. Jeez, this is starting to turn into a fashion column...
Carla challenged Kevin to a game of pool, so I decided to go outside for some fresh air. Bill was out there,too, so we sat down on a bench and chatted for about an hour. We talked about lots of mundane stuff, much of it dealing with Florida. It seems that he has family scattered all over the area, including a cousin who lives about 25 miles from me. He also told me that he lived in a hotel in Sarasota (40 miles away) for 3 weeks about 15 years ago when he was in a band. "I've always wanted to be up on stage, but not the center of attention," was how he described it. We also talked about the KBLT benefit, and it didn't sound like they are 100% certain that they'll be playing the show. Those of you in L.A. may want to hold of if you're only going there to see the Fibbers.
Carla joined us outside, and we continued to shoot the breeze. More mundane stuff, such as "How do you guys stay healthy while eating on the road for months at a time?" Carla said that she eats soups from healthfood stores, but Bill & Si subsist on junkfood.
I mentioned that my daughter wants a guitar for Christmas, and Carla asked me what kind I planned to buy. I hadn't given it much thought, but she became very animated and said, "Hey, this is important!" I told her that several people had recommended an acoustic guitar. "Does she want to play little girlie songs, or does she WANT TO ROCK!?" She went on to extol the virtues of electric guitars and small amps, so I guess I'll be buying some earplugs in a few weeks.
I also met Tony and Gloria while sitting on the front porch. What a nice way to spend a cool evening in Birmingham. I wish I could've had more time to talk to them, as well as the band.
The Fibbers went on after The Billionaires and The Clears (Tony got their name wrong in his post) finished playing at 12:30. I tend to go into a trance while at a Fibbers show, so it's all kind of a pleasant blur now, but here are a few recollections.
I was mesmerized by Nels' playing- the man is incredible. He used the raygun, spring, whisk and everything else in his arsenal during the course of the show. The speed with which he bends down, grabs a toy, stomps a pedal, makes a bizarre noise and then pops back up is simply amazing. He really strikes some remarkable poses, his lanky figure accentuated by too-short clothes and jerky, angular movements. That guy can really wring a note from a guitar's neck.
It was the first 100% Leyna show I'd seen, and she seems to fit in nicely. Jessica Moss did, too, but Jessy always seemed bored. Leyna smiled a lot, and added plenty of vocals and violin flourishes. She positively beamed while plucking her violin during "Tuffy."
Kevin pounded away like a madman during the entire show, but he didn't have much to say. One exception was a couple of extra cymbal crashes and a loud "Fuck!" at the close of one of the first songs. I don't have any idea about what happened, but it caught the rest of the band by surprise. Carla and Bill walked back to see what the problem was, but Kevin just seemed to blow it off.
Bill anchored the band and also emceed most of the show. He was almost hidden from view, but he still managed to make his presence known.
Carla put on a splendid performance. I managed to take a photo of the famous elephant vs. bass bit of the show, and I'll post it if it came out OK. The crowd was rather small, but she still yelled "Birmingham!" halfway through the set. Highlights for me were a powerful "French Song" and an intense rendition of "Lilybelle." I was also pleased to see "The Grand Tour" on the setlist, since I'd never seen them perform it before.
I didn't nab a setlist, but I think these were played:
2) Seven or in 10
not sure about the order of these:
Folks Like Me
11) You Doo Right
13) Outside of Town
I didn't feel like stealing Carla's setlist, but after the guy standing next to me swiped it, along with her lyrics to "Outside," I grabbed the chords to "Folks" that she'd taped to her monitor to deny him the hat trick. Here's a scan of it:
Here's a promo photo that I plucked from the wall and had signed by the band:
These photos were in a little Butch promo poster-thingy on the wall. We've all seen them before, but I scanned 'em anyway:
Despite what a certain sourpuss in the AOL folder says, the Fibbers are a nice bunch of people. Friendly, generous, funny and sincere- these descriptions apply to them all. It was well worth the 1600-mile drive. I'd do it again in a minute.
P.S. I developed my photos, but our scanner was in use. The negatives look kinda dark & a bit blurry, but I'll scan them ASAP and post them for your viewing pleasure.