the silver jews @ webster hall 3.17.06

the silver jews @ webster hall 3.17.06

aboard a plane to austin, still on the JFK tarmac. captain just announced that the plane is overweight so eight people have to come off before we can leave. good to be back in the states, fuckin supersize fries.

the doors opened for the silver jews concert at six (sic). there were two opening bands, we arrived at 9:15 after eating at a highly authentic low-quality mexican food restaurant around the corner from elliott‘s loft. when we got there we found out that berman & co were already on stage. we arrived in the middle of the first song.

everyone who follows this band knows that david has had some tough years with depression, multiple drug addictions, and a suicide attempt. he looked fairly well put together considering. his voice was predicably worn but easily recognizable – he’s one of these male singers who don’t really sing, he talks melodically over the music. his wife cassie has a strong stage presence, and the affection he demonstrated toward her onstage was one of the coolest parts of the show. the set was ridiculously short, a little more than an hour. he played a lot of the greats, but they’re all great so anything he played would have been great: random rules, how to rent a room, pet politics, horseleg swastikas, dallas, punks in the beerlight, sometimes a pony, trains across the sea. toward the end cassie played an excellent dead-esque country song, which dave said she wrote. elliott claims to have recognized it, though i am sure i have never heard it.

webster hall is a superb venue, an old building with a balcony, ornate carvings in the walls and one enormous disco ball. dave was uncomfortable on stage. the show ended shortly after ten and the audience was incredulous. none of the ~500 of us were willing to leave. the lights went up, the background music came on and finally after 15 minutes he came back and sheepishly told everyone how lazy he is, that he’s “been avoiding this for 15 years, gimme a break.” that said, he seemed genuinely touched and surprised at the adulation. he played _there is a place_ as an encore. during that song, a fan jumped on stage and grabbed dave’s red trucker cap, which was on the ground next to him, and did a bellyflop back into the cowd. cassie, so much more composed than dave (who seemed put out just by being on stage) politely demanded that he give it back. she said it was dave’s lucky hat. the fan returned it.

when dave wasn’t strumming his guitar, he was searching for a pack of cigarettes in his pants, and ultimately had to excuse himself for a few minutes to find one backstage. i got the impression that the guy is just cashed out, a jittery former addict now trying to keep it together, touring for cash. he couldn’t even remember his own lyrics. he was reading them from cheatsheets and even still made a couple errors, but his myth is so overwhelming he could have spent an hour pissing all over us and we would have loved it. great show.

picture courtesy of thesevensteves.

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