Sometime in 2007, my friend Stark Raving Brad ran into John Oates at his work and was gifted with two tickets to Hall and Oates. He took me. Here is the story of that night.
Funny, could have swron I posted it before but it seems to have disappeared from my blog…
Yup, they were Hall and Oates all right
So Brad and I meet up at the Palace of Fine Arts and get our tix. I thought maybe Oates would stiff us, but all was smooth. We had seats in the fucking fourth row, and have you been in the Palace of Fine Arts? The seats are capacious, super comfy, and bouncy, for extra good chair dancing.I love the seats.
OK, the band comes on out and wham! “Maneater.” And their attitude towards this song is “Hey, you want fucking ‘Maneater’? HERE’S FUCKING ‘Maneater’!!!!! And then we’ll get on with the real show. And so it was…
FULL CHEESE AHEAD. AS if their music wasn’t gooey and dairy-laden enough, they’ve added a string section. That’s right, string cheese (yes, I had to say it). The players: happy Hobbit dude, the hot girl, the desperately bitter former classical musician (turns out it was his birthday), and angry former classical musician.
OK, then they said they would take requests, so Brad and I turn to each other and start a lively debate of what would be the funniest non-Hall and Oates songs to yell out. We started, as we had to, with “Free Bird,” but ran through “Talk Talk,” “Come on Eileen,” “Don’t Bring Me Down,” “Rosanna,” “Rock Me Like a Hurricane” (too hard, “Sailing” (too soft) and “Another Brick in the Wall.” But we don’t actually yell these out because it becomes apparent to us, something I would never have suspected, that people here LOVE Hall and Oates. I always thought this band was the musical equivalent of a Nagel print. But there’s a chunky rugby player in a wifebeater who is on the verge of religious ecstasy; two guys who dressed up like eighties Hall and Oates, including wearing the mustache formerly known as Oates; and this awesome dyke behind me bobbing her head and so fucking into it. It’s like she woke up one day and said, “Hey, you know what? FUCK Ani DeFranco! Hall and Oates, man; that’s where MY heart is.” And God bless her.
So then there was a whole lot of dairy going on. I didn’t know what the songs even were anymore. “A Pound of Brie,” then “Whole Lotta Mozarella,” and then “Swiss in Your Face.” So I watched the audience and the band and listened to and made snarky comments to Brad. At one point, I turned around and said. “This concert’s going to give me liver damage–I just can’t make enough bile to digest the cheese.”
What I learned from watching the band: Hall loves being a rock star. He smiles, his shoulders hunch up with glee, his hair gets blown by the fan and he wallows in it. He sings, he plays guitar, he plays keyboards, sometimes he just puts it all down and dances. Oates, on the other hand, plays with the grim determination of a man that knows that this beats teaching shop at the local high school–but not by much. He has shaved his mustache, which I think was a pussy thing to do–own that bad boy! Shaving it is like publicly announcing that he doesn’t want to be Oates any more. What’s more, he’s tiny, and he makes you want to just pop him in your pocket and soothe away his tiny frown.
As the evening melted on, it became apparent that the real powerhouse of the band is a guy we named Dr. Goldenrod, after his stunning suit of that color. Actually, he was sort of all that color: long graying but still golden hair and golden glasses too. While the rest of the band (except Hall) boringly played the same instrument all night long, Dr. Goldenrod was a one man band, jammin it out with saxophones both alto and soprano, as well as tambourines, wooden blocks, glockenspiels, harmoniums, ocharinas, and a pocket theremin. At one point, I wanted to yell “More Cowbell” at him, but I just couldn’t be publicly snarky–these were nice people, all around me, and they LOVED Hall and Oates (except for the young Latina girl next to us loudly chewing gum and planning her boyfriend’s slow painful death for bringing her to see this whiteboy trash).
OK, then, all of a sudden, Hall stepped out with no instruments and the band started laying down a slightly funky, soulafied version of “Sarah Smile,” and it was great! My dorky chair dancing lost its irony. Hall was grooving and I just about fell in love with him he was so adorable and everyone was almost crying with happiness, and then, boom! “Say No Go” and that was great too; Goldenrod came out and took a solo, strutting around the stage like he knew he owned the night. Brad and slipped briefly back into snarky to decide what the song “Say No Go” was about; Brad said anal and I said scat play. Cleveland Steamer? Don’t even think about it–say no go. But we actually were groovin and when it was over we cheered with all the rest of the demented losers and felt really good.
We really should have left right at that moment. It felt like the end, and a good end too, but instead they introduced the band and did a few more songs which left us punchy and confused, because we were done. They they were done, but no, they weren’t–came back and did an encore. At some point GE Smith came out and joined them and Brad and I went nuts trying to express to each other the depths of our loathing for GE SMith, that smug little midget. Every time he plays the guitar, he wears this expression that says, “Yes, I am so cool, so very much cooler than you, man, the world is certainly lucky that GE Smith has consented to grace it with his stunning presence.” It just makes you want to run his nuts through a garlic press.
AND THEN GOLDENROD STOLE OUR MINDS. I am not even sure how he did it. He got out some instrument and the harmonics were just so that it played right inside my brain. It hurt, it burned, but it wasn’t until I woke up this morning bloody and sore with vague dreams of offering cash, valuables, and all my orifices to a Goldenrod god that I suspected that I had become a rock and roll zombie under the control of an evil mastermind. Brad and I had some sense of our impending doom because we scampered out right after that, holding our crania and howling in pain. I had been sticking around, hoping they would play “Rich Girl” but we were at our breaking point.
HALL (and that guy, what’s his name? oh yeah Oates) ONE, Brad and Cherry ZERO