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Well, we didn’t get “The Other Shoe,” but we did get the Cramps’ “New Kind of Kick.”

That day we woke up in Costa Mesa, ready to make our way north for the last of the driving portion of the trip. So far I was pleased with our luck in travel. Discounting our late takeoff out of Denver and the overwhelming desire to squash the smarmy Thrifty car rental agent like a bug in San Diego, getting from place to place has been refreshingly without incident. True, we did manage to blow a red light, skip paying a toll completely, and make an illegal right-on-red turn all in the same day. But compared to what could have happened on a southern California road trip, I’d say we got out of it relatively unscathed.

In Los Angeles, we grabbed a late lunch (gyros again, oddly) at the Farmers’ Market and then checked in to the kitschy Best Western Hollywood Hills adjacent to the 101 Diner. (I’m told it’s the diner where Swingers was filmed but personally, when we grabbed breakfast there the next morning, I was more enthralled with the orange-juicing machine. Oranges squeezed as you watch. Hypnotizing.)

So. The Hollywood show. I’ll write in listy form, ’cause that’s the way I think.

The venue: grand. As in, the Music Box is indeed a grand theater.

Beer selection: abysmal (and horrifically expensive, which is the worst combination).

Videographer girl: still there, front and center, with her two cameras, but I was too far away from her to worry about her arms.

Friend factor: insanely awesome. As I’d expected, Los Angeles was less about the show than it was the people. Matt, Julie and I lingered for a two-hour sushi dinner with Kim and Courtney, longtime L.A. girls and longtime 97’s fans. And the food—besides music, this vacation was all about the food—was pretty fantastic. As more and more sharable sushi dishes were set in front of us I even forgot we had a show to go to. Eggplant stuffed with albacore and almonds? More, please.

Murry’s shirtwear: pearlsnap, long-sleeved.

Set list: just all right. People who saw only this show might not agree, but for us the third show felt a little repetitive. Besides the punk interlude (which I’m told should be up on YouTube already, or at least a portion of it), there was nothing remarkable about the set list. It was the first time we got Indefinitely, and Jagged, and, shockingly, Big Brown Eyes, which I hadn’t yet realized had been absent the past two nights. But nothing was pulled from the dusty archives.

Band’s mood: downright giddy. It was obvious that they were loving the hell out of this venue in a city that at least half of the band has been able to call home, and they were clearly feeling the energy in the crowd.

The crowd: a little different. The crowd was … odd. I don’t mean that they weren’t into the show, because they were. Or that they didn’t know the band’s repertoire, because they did. From my ten-rows-back vantage point (first between Rhett and Murry, then on the crowd fringes at extreme Murryside) I found myself looking around and assessing, trying to put my finger on what was different. About halfway through the show it hit me: this crowd was so male. Not that guys are a rarity at an Old 97s show, but usually they’re attached to a girl or sparsely placed throughout. But there were pockets of guys all over the audience. And they really wanted to be there.

LA crowd.

The crowd was also BIG. Upon arrival we took one look at the floor and rejected it in favor of the upstairs outdoor roof patio. Which was perfect. We could clearly hear Langhorne Slim—and I now have a new favorite song of his, even though I can’t tell you what it’s called—but we could also still hang out and laugh about unfortunate Coachella camping experiences, discuss Taylor Swift’s mad self-booking skills when she was still a nobody, and weigh the merits of “Cash” as a first or middle name.

When we came back downstairs, the crowd had redistributed and we made or way to about 10 rows from the front, but that was all I had in me. I’d rather be able to see and breathe than be within range of pick tosses, so I was good.

The band was tight and the songs fast and furious, but I felt a little off-kilter all night. I still had a great time and there was nothing about the show I disliked, but the vibe was just … different. In the future, if I had a choice to see the band in LA or, say, Texas … I might pick Texas.

10 Comments

  1. The energy was certainly there in the crowd and on stage, but I gotta say, I miss the ol Largo days’ banter from the stage. I mean… “I love L.A……” only goes so far after the 5th time. Still, it was good to hear the music LIVE again.
    Curious… were you the woman in the long dress in front of the raised booths on the right taking a pic or two from the camera you kept in your bag?
    Looking forward to the final installment. What a great roadtrip!
    Ed. in L.A.

      • 01/24/2011
      • Reply

      Ed–I can’t be sure, but if you’re the Ed who used to always post on HH about the old Largo shows, I may have sat next to your friend on a flight one time. Doug, maybe? (Even if it wasn’t him, how random to end up seated next to a full-on 97’s fan on a plane. We ended up trading iPod playlists ’cause of course we had similar tastes in music.) And yep, that was probably me, but I was carrying my camera loose. No bag.

  2. You are crackin me up about videographer girl! My boyfriend and I had a discussion about her at the Galaxy, Orange County show, after viewing her the night before at the Solana Beach show, of course. She is probably a sweetheart, I’m sure. Yet, there she resides, same place every time… at pretty much every 97’s or Rhett show I have attended in Cali. Yes, right there, that’s where she’s at. This time I made it to San Diego and Orange County, but not LA. I am going to start going to not only see the 97’s or the Rhettster, but now, I will not be able to keep myself from noting the infamous, videographer girl. Let’s make t-shirts.

  3. My $0.02: my girlfriend and I saw both LA shows (The Galaxy in Santa Ana & The Music Box), and I just have to say everything sounded much better at the latter. The sound system in the Galaxy is sorely lacking. No midrange at ALL. Terrible. Langhorne Slim sounded better in the Music Box as well. Love the Music Box venue–my second time catching the Old 97s there. Set list was better at the Music Box, IMHO. Loved it. Looking forward to the next time the band is in L.A. is which leases me to conclude: I would rather see them here than in Texas because I live here! LOL 😉

    • 01/24/2011
    • Reply

    “but we could also still hang out and laugh about unfortunate Coachella camping experiences, discuss Taylor Swift’s mad self-booking skills when she was still a nobody, and weigh the merits of “Cash” as a first or middle name.”

    yes. I have untold admiration for taylor swift because of that and basically single-handedly running her tours. she’s got my respect regardless of what I think of her pap-pop music.

    my niece named her firstborn son cash. personally I think it’s a great name, first,middle or last.

    sounds like all y’all had a great time.

  4. Great job as usual, Sandra! Speaking of Videographer Girl, have you read this forum post?
    http://old97s.com/forum/?mingleforumaction=viewtopic&t=244

    Such a touching story. It would be great to track down VG girl so Papachis can have the video of their special moment. Any help would be appreciated.

    • Sandra: Yep, I’m that Ed. If it was tall Doug, he was front and center at the Music Box.
      Knowing the infamous “Videogirl”, she’s probably keeping an eye on this. But just in case, I’ll alert her to the postings. We once drove up to Santa Cruz and back to L.A. in one day to see Rhett playing a solo gig in the bar of a crepe restaurant. The things we’ve done….
      Ed. in L.A.

  5. Great. Now I’m “tall Doug.” Like I needed a nickname, Ed…

    Now I feel compelled to note that the wife and I were down there before the opener went on and stayed in that spot, so anyone short who positioned him/herself behind me after was not observant enough to deserve to see anything. [g]

    When I heard the story of the quasi-pit at the SF show I was mildly envious, and I’ll tell you why: I know how to deal with overly aggressive dancing without it distracting me too much from the show. But at this show, when everybody around me was trying to take pictures with their phones that got to be a bit much. Had it just been a few people it wouldn’t have been so bad. Also, if there was a chance the shots would come out, but people, those little lenses don’t capture the action on that stage; you’re just missing out on the music and having a blur to show for it.

    On the show itself: It was far from their best (in my experience–going back to ’99) but even a sub-par 97’s show is better than most bands can do.

    And they stayed away from the one new song I really didn’t want to hear (“Love Is What You Are”), and played “Designs On You” (which I quoted on the first date with my wife), so I have no complaints.

      • 01/29/2011
      • Reply

      ARE you that Doug that I met on the plane? Or am I talking about a completely different person? I can’t even remember where I was flying, but I do know I was by myself (no husband or kids) so that does narrow it down a bit. And we were sitting the whole time so I have no idea how tall this guy was …

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