zephyr illusions photo by donna October 1992. The view atop Chasseral, Jura Mountains looking across Switzerland to The Alps on the horizon. Fog, intensely thick, rising from Lac Bienne and stretching its fingers high onto the Lignières-Plateau de Diesse after wholly filling the valley below the plateau.

Monday, February 20, 2006

BRMC Rocked the TLA in Philly

My short overnight trip to Philadelphia to see Black Rebel Motorcycle Club play a gig at Theatre of Living Arts was a really nice time. The drive of 125 miles (275 kilometres) went smoothly and took only about 2 hours for my sister and i to arrive at the hotel which was conveniently situated only 15 minutes walk from the club where BRMC would play. the day was cold, but very sunny and after checking into the hotel we headed out on foot to discover the neighborhood and get some food and drink before the show. it' been 20 years since i've been to Philadelphia and i had forgotten how cool is South Street. South Street is a major entertainment district in old Philadelphia and a mecca of dining establishments, pubs, shopping, art and entertainment. my sister and i had fun checking out the action on the busy street as we visited a couple of very authentic Irish pubs (with real Irish bartenders with their beautiful lilting accent and rugby match on the tv) for good Irish beer (i imbibed pints of Smithwick's and Beamish Stout) and enjoyed a good dinner before arriving the Theatre of Living Arts for the show.
Three bands, a great value for the nominal price of the ticket, were scheduled with BRMC as the headliner. the club is really pretty cool with it's '60's vibe and quaintness, but i wasn't really that impressed with the acoustics. but, maybe that's because my sister and i watch the show from the edge of the bar section which is tucked under the balcony. we got lucky and had a spot very convenient to the bartender and had a barstool and a bar rail to place our drinks and CDs we purchased from the merchandise stand. (we supported all three bands and bought a CD from each band plus a cool BRMC pin.) our little spot was right on the edge of the bar area and right adjacent to the access way to the main general admission floor. i had a support column somewhat hindering my view of Robert Levon Been and Mike Been, but over all, i'd say we got lucky and had a comfortable position to enjoy the show.

The first band, Eastern Conference Champions, a band i had never heard of before, were quite alright, not bad at all. they were a good choice as an opening act. although, imvho, their name sucks... too difficult to remember, too easy to confuse with other things, too difficult to relate to and wth does it mean, anyhow? reading the CD liner notes, i see they have a connection to Billy Nicgorski... the relevance of this fact will become evident later.
Second band on the roster was Elefant and they rocked.

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club is nothing less than a totally and undeniably awesome live act! the energy they put forth from the stage envelopes the room with a buzz of excitement and eager anticipation of where the band will take the audience with their versatility of sound and talent. Peter Hayes has a rich voice and is totally charming in his demeanor as he plays guitar and harmonica... also, really cool when he breaks out his slide trombone to add a different and unexpected slant to rock percussion. first time i can remember seeing a trombone played in a rock band. Robert Levon Been also has a beautiful and strong voice and not only awesome on bass he also is very creative with guitar. i cannot determine who is the front man... Peter or Robert, both guys are strong solid musicians, vocalists and have that certain dynamic stage presence that a good frontman possesses. Nick Jago provides the solid basis upon which all great rock bands are founded... drumming that not just gives time and beat, but adds creative emphasis. Nick's contribution is ever present and the man sure knows how to beat up a drum kit with style.

The show began with a somewhat subdued mood as the rock-gospel-cum-folk sound of songs from the latest album 'Howl' was featured. Tempo and energy were gradually and very effectively taken to a higher level as the evening progressed with the band performing some of their earlier more aggressive alternative-sound songs leaving the audience desperately wanting more when the 90 minute set ended.
BRMC responded to the resonating cheers of the crowd for encore... which was incredibly intense, electrifying and totally mind-blowing. the 45-minute encore began with Peter Hayes taking the stage by himself under a spotlight performing a couple of soul-filled ballad type songs with beautiful acoustic guitar and sweet harmonica emanating lots of emotion before being joined by the other band members to move into their soulful-yet-rocking vibe. then, it happened!... that which all live music fans await.... somehow, someway, BRMC exploded onto another plane of creative excitement and into one of the most memorable and innovative pieces of musical adventure that i have ever witnessed. and, i've seen lots of bands perform live over the years (decades). Robert Levon Been seemed to effortless lead his bandmates into the most electrifying and unimaginable sounds of spontaneity filled with dimension built upon a mishmash of sustained feedback and pulsating rhythm and smooth guitar work creating the most beautiful music from what seemed the essence of pure chaos. it was enchanting, it was enthralling, it was hypnotizing, it was trippy... it was amazing magical work of very creative and talented musicians of vision like no other. i was spellbound as were the hundreds of people around me. then the beautiful musical chaos subsided into the low soft hum of a dimly spotlighted solo Peter Hayes (i think... i was kinda too spellbound to be sure. lol) who appeared to be kneeling over a keyboard laying flat on the stage ending the show with a melodically haunting rendition of 'Open Invitation'.
a truly totally amazing show.
i hope i can see BRMC perform live again, soon!

I was on such a high from the show i had just experienced that i found myself down front of the stage to see if i could convince somebody to let me ask the band to sign the CD i had purchased at the merch stand. the roadies were too busy tearing down the equipment to pay any attention to me so i approached a security guy standing guard by the stage entrance door. when i asked him if i might be able to enter and tell the band how much i enjoyed and appreciated their show, i got a stern reply "no, my job is to kept people from bothering the band." i replied, "ok, i don't want to 'bother' the band. thanks." i turned away feeling kinda let down after being totally elevated during the previous 2 hours by that very band who had a guy there to keep away 'botherers" and thinking "geez, i'm not a botherer, dammit, i'm a life-long music fan." when i was quickly approached by a guy with gorgeous mussed-up looking hair (i got a thing for hair) who asked me if i would like autographs. i was surprised and a bit hesitant wondering if this guy was for real. upon inquiring about his identity, he showed me his VIP All Access pass and introduced himself as Billy Nicgorski, a producer for BRMC. :)! woohoo! he told me that his professional support to BRMC is indicated and credited on the CD liner notes and that the band has recorded some of their songs in his studio. i'm thinking, "this is too cool" as he told me that he could get me autographs if the guys were still around and would i like to have Mike Been's autograph, too. "YUP!" so i gave Mr. Nicgorski my CD and he disappeared past the security guard and through the stage door to 'bother' Michael Been and the band on my behalf :)
Mr. Nicgorski was back to me with my autographed CD within 2 minutes and told me that Mike Been is father of band member Robert Levon Been and is a well known musician who used to have a band called The Call. whoa, i stood there thinking that this was pretty cool and feeling quite appreciative that Mr. Nicgorski must have heard the turn down i got from security and was being so nice to me. Mr. Nicgorski proceeded to introduce me to Michael Been as he passed by us during the course of our conversation... i was feeling rather giddy about all that was happening so fast. i then asked Billy Nicgorski to sign my CD cover, too. :D i thanked Billy Nicgorski while really appreciating the kindness and attention he had just shown a music fan and left the club glowing and feeling really happy.

And, now is when it gets REALLY good in a crazy kind of way.... or crazy in a good kind of way? lol......
after exiting the club, i notice a tag of some sort stuck to my coat - right below the buttons, only half the tag is exposed and the other half stuck to the inside of my coat... like somebody had the sticker in their hand and then grabbed the edge of my coat and pressed the sticker tight. i'm sure that there is no way this tag could have accidently gotten stuck to me like it was. i'm like "wtf is this on my coat?" so, i peel the cloth sticker from my coat and see that it is an 'ALL ACCESS' pass issued by the club's promoter and dated for the BRMC show!!!!!! i have no freaking idea when and how this pass was pressed onto the edge of my coat front! lmfao, i've been attending concerts for 30 years and have always dreamed of obtaining 'All Access' status and now i discover somebody mysteriously tagged me with an All Access pass for a band that i really dig and was totally enchanted by and i discover the pass only AFTER i exit the club after the show! man, is this weird or what?!
i'm guessing that it was either stuck to my coat as i entered the club (i immediately took my coat off and draped it over the bar stool my sister sat on all night) or that maybe Billy Nicgorski did a slight of hand and pressed the pass onto my coat when i was all giddy and busy meeting the father of a band member (i really think this is what happened). maybe Mr. Nicgorski was giving me another souvenir or additional proof of his business connection to BRMC (or just having some fun and messing with my head a little bit for initially doubting his connection to the band? lol)? i dunno, but it was a great way (albeit a little bit spooky) to finish off a great day of fun, adventure and one of the best concerts i have been to in a long time. just hope that someday i will have another opportunity for an 'All Access' pass and will actually enjoy the benefits of such!! lol :)

1 comment:

  1. Hey Donna.. Glad you had fun, I'm glad you like the pass...