Buzzed Bands Podcast, Ep. 2 w/ Cold Blood Club

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Superdrag Played Bowery Ballroom 4/9

Gabe and Irv headed over to the Superdrag show at Bowery Ballroom on Thursday. Here's a recap Gabe wrote with some photo's from Irv.

We were supposed to meet at Bowery Ballroom at 8pm. Irvin (BSC picture-taker aka Mr. Photog) and Ethan were waiting for me out front. I was about 20 minutes late.

Ethan- “Nine, Ten, Eleven. Remember those numbers,”

“What’s that? Why?”

“That’s all he said when I asked him when the show starts.”

He looked over his shoulder to a 250 lb bearded Suge Knight look-alike checking IDs at the door.


I couldn’t tell if he was talking to me or Suge.

“So the first band doesn’t go on for another forty minutes? Sorry guys.”

Yes, I am absent-minded. I think most of my friends realize this by now.

“Well, look on the bright side: gives us plenty of time to get drunk. What bars are around here?”

Irvin- “Crash Mansion or R Bar. There’s not much else around.”

I’m not a big fan of either of those bars, and I expressed as much. But Mr. Photog makes friends everywhere he goes. Not only is he incredibly affable and energetic. He LOVES taking pictures of people, and it shows, which is inherently flattering to anybody getting their picture taken by him.

Pia was bartending at R Bar. Friendly, funny, and beautiful, (Pia, if I had a phone, I might have the balls to ask for your number) she poured us beers as a terrible band’s guitarist squealed away from the back room.

Pia- “So you guys are actually sort of working right now?”

Sobering reminder of the task at hand. She had been regaling us with tales of blackout drunkenness. All the stories were second-hand, since she didn’t remember any of it herself. Try saying “21-34 30th Ave at 31st St” next time you get into a cab after 12 cosmos. He dropped her off in Times Square.

I looked at my watch. It was after 10 o’clock. We had to get back.

Bowery Ballroom. Downstairs we saw my two old roommates, Valeria and Stella. They are both big fans of Superdrag. In fact, they went to both NYC shows on both nights. And I think I remember Stella saying something like, “They are my favorite band ever. But you have to understand, I was like 15 when they came out.” An unprovoked apology for liking the band.

I’ve heard a lot of that stuff about Superdrag. Somebody else I know, who’s musical tastes are usually on the same rails as mine, has autographed and framed setlists from two of their shows. My awareness of them is as a band from the mid-90s glut of post-grunge MTV bands. And I don’t like to do that to bands. I don’t like to pigeonhole them into one-hit wonderdom just because I’ve been unaware of their output over the years. They have a respectable following, even after these 15 years, and after an alcoholism-induced breakup and subsequent Christian output by their main songwriter. But they’re back now. New record. New tour. And I was at Bowery Ballroom to listen and hopefully discover what I’d been missing. And they brought their friends from Knoxville to open up for them.

We got there just at the end of The Tenderhooks set, and Irvin disappeared into the scattered bodies near the front of the stage. If not for the lightning flashes from his camera, there would’ve been no evidence of his presence. Inter-gender country vocal harmonies, while the guitarist finger-picked his way through a humble progression. I’m such a sucker for that stuff. “Raise high the roof beams, dancing” was their final refrain for the night. I thought it set a nice theme. Suddenly Irv reappeared at my side against the bar.

“They sound good. Look at these pictures I got.”

He scrolled through a few of the shots he’d snapped on his camera’s view screen.

Next band was The High Score. Shiny new Les Pauls crunched out some good ole Tennessee bar fare. They reminded me of the Black Crows, without the recklessness. Nothing really to think about. I was getting it. Music’s fun. You don’t have to analyze it and write an 800 word blog about it. A nice thought. I wish I could subscribe in earnest. “It’s a mighty good wine” they sang.

Something a little peculiar happened when Superdrag walked onto the stage. First of all, they were setting up all their own equipment, plugging into amps and pedals, setting levels. There wasn’t a curtain or anything to hide them. They were exposed, and everyone in the room was silently staring at them. Judging from the eavesdropping I was doing, most people there were long time fans excited to see one of their favorite bands reunited. You would think there would be some positive heckling. “I love you John Davis!” Something like that. It was silent. They were looking at them as if looking into an aquarium.

So they start the first song. People sing along. Verse-Chorus-Verse-Chorus-Bridge-Chorus-Out. They do it again. And again. They are good songs. There is NOTHING to think about. So why am I thinking about it? I have another drink. There are cheers. But the band looks a little affected. Especially Davis. Is there some sort of underlying Christian guilt about reforming a band that drove you to addiction, the sin of false idolatry? Is he thinking about it too much? Am I? Yes. Definitely. They are good songs. Just shut up and enjoy them. Ethan finishes off a beer, burps, and says “I feel like I’m eating dry white toast that’s 15 years old. Let’s get outta here.”

I never even got to hear them sing it: “Who sucked out the FEEELAAAAANG?”

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