There was a proposal.

But more on that later. First things first. Since this is about me—I mean us—I will take a moment to tell you about our day in La Jolla. It’s January, but the weather was glorious. I woke up before 7 AM, still on Central time and thinking I needed to get the kids to school. Tried to go back to sleep, but I was up for keeps. So I took to the cove. The previous night’s beer kept my head from consenting to the jostle of a run, but I walked, briskly, in shorts and a T-shirt along the ocean. More than once I passed people in parkas and gloves. We exchanged looks of mutual bafflement.

Later on was alfresco coffee (with free wireless) at the Goldfish Café alongside the ocean, where if you squinted you might be able to convince yourself you were in Italy. There was sunshine, seals, and sea lions. Then after that, a hike overlooking the ocean at Torrey Pines State Reserve. Seventy degrees, pure sun, the whole world of the Pacific open.

We had ourselves a time.

On we drove to Santa Ana. Dinner was at a Greek restaurant I’d found on Yelp. We’d originally made dinner reservations at the venue, but then we decided to look at the menu and canceled our reservations. I was happy with my gyro. The venue was oddly situated behind what appeared to be an office complex, and the beer selection was unacceptable. But the stage area was set up nicely, with booths and tables ringing the floor in a half circle. The floor, it turned out, was cement. We all exchanged sighs, because we knew what that meant.

Langhorne Slim now has us wondering if he shops at a new Goodwill store before every show. More: Dude playing the upright bass has a fro for the masses. The drum kit is half the size of Philip’s. We likey.

For the second time, the house music played between the opener and the band included Stuck in the Middle, so I’m going to go ahead and assume that’s a decision on the band’s part. Murry came out and ooo-oooooed along with the part in the song that goes … ooo-oooo. And then it was show time.

I actually took notes during this show. That won’t happen again. I stopped short while texting notes to myself in the middle of Barrier Reef, when I realized I was texting notes to myself in the middle of Barrier Reef. But for now, you’ll benefit from the fruits of my labor:

Opened again with Grand Theater, which is growing on me. (Incidentally, my husband is one of those folks who says thee-ay-ter. The kids have picked it up, too, and my daughter corrects me when I say it differently.) Rhett seems to be taking care to vary the set list because he knows crazies like us will see them more than once (or twice) (or three times). We appreciate the thoughtfulness. Last night’s St. Ignatius was tonight’s Stoned with the supercool psychedelic intro.

I think it’s safe to say the band was feeling loose and in extremely good spirits. As they all paused for a moment while Rhett downed whatever was in his cup, Murry quipped: “We get thirsty a lot.” Later Rhett posed a request to the crowd in general for a Jameson on the rocks. “We should have people for this,” he joked. The drink materialized alarmingly quickly. Intro-ing Champaign, Illinois, Rhett said, “We wrote this song with Bob Dylan. We weren’t in the same room but it worked out.” As the were going into “State of Texas” (possibly my favorite “new” song on the new album), there was an uncharacteristic mixup that had all four guys looking to one another and laughing, starting and stopping the song.

Mistakes are what makes it real.

Videographer girl was back, and I was happy to see that she now had a speaker on which to rest her elbows while she again filmed the show with both cameras.

Midway through the show Rhett invited a guy on stage, and even before he started strumming the opening notes of Question, we knew what was going on. Another damn proposal.

Julie, who has seen the 97s many more times than I have in the past few years, has seen onstage Question proposals before. I have not. But as tattooed, grinning Chelsea was coaxed down to the stage, where her man was waiting with a ring, which he presented to her on bended knee, I forgot all of the cheesiness I’d ever ascribed to this practice. The whole place was cheering for that couple–even Rhett couldn’t seem to keep himself from smiling.


Then Murry began to play You Were Born to Be In Battle, which he offered to the happy couple as the song for when they had kids.

On the set list I caught a mention of The Other Shoe, which remained unplayed, ditched in favor of Dance With Me. No idea why, but I’m wondering if the proposal took so much time that curfew was setting in sooner than expected and a shorter song was warranted.

After Smokers, which smoked (including the otherwise-inappropriate fog smoke that finally found its purpose), Ken, who had been jamming almost into the crowd right next to Murry as the song built up to the end, threw his guitar pick into the crowd. I know he wasn’t aiming for me, but he threw it straight at me. I predictably missed it, but it bounced off Matt, and now it’s in my hotel room.

My only 97s guitar pick ever.

As feared, the night ended with aching backs, feet, and legs. (Seriously, club owners? Concrete? It can’t be that spendy to at least throw down something foamy or rubbery.) If I lived in Santa Ana, I’d never watch a show from the floor there again. Which just might mean I’d never watch a show there.

I’m not one for requests, but we’ll be expecting The Other Shoe tonight.