4/16/09: Rhett Miller @ Le Poisson Rouge (84/100)

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I’m tired as hell today. Sort of like the first few weeks. But this is the homestretch. Gotta finish strong. Only a little over two weeks left. And while I love the project, and will probably miss it, I do want my life back. Even if it means I’ll be just another regular person who goes to shows every so often. Wait, that can’t happen. That’s the whole point of this thing – to get out there, and make sure I continue to see more shows. Shows like Rhett Miller on a Thursday night at Le Poisson Rouge.

But before I go into that, what the fuck is up with Le Poisson Rouge lately? I like this place, but they keep giving me reasons to hate it. First there was the mandatory 20% gratuity when using a card to pay for drinks back at the Glass Candy show. Now they’re charging $30 for a Rhett Miller solo acoustic show? Really? No offense, but Rhett’s no Jeff Tweedy. Tweedy I would pay $30 for (and more). Ok, in fairness to LPR, that included the bullshit online fee – but still.

And what’s up with the big beefy security lining the edges of the stage now? Do they seriously have to rig up a velvet rope off the side of the stage? First off, is that really going to keep someone from running onto the stage and molesting the artist? And secondly, it’s just Rhett and his guitar, what’s going to happen? Half the crowd would pull a hammy if they tried.

Speaking of which, this was the most unattractive crowd of the entire 84 days. I don’t know why, and I don’t really care. But just thought I should point that out. It was old and ugly. Shit, I was there too. Damnit.

Ok, so Rhett Miller. The singer/songwriter from the Old 97’s. The alt-country band I used to love. I still do I guess, just don’t really listen to them that much anymore. I like Rhett’s solo work, but have to admit I was looking forward to hearing mostly 97’s songs. I wasn’t disappointed. And he’s funny, self-deprecating, and gives it his all. Sweating all over the place, beating the hell out of the strings of his guitar, shaking his sweaty head around, jumping up and down – and so on.

Which is nice considering he’s just a guy stand on a stage with an acoustic guitar, in a solo spotlight – could’ve been dreadfully dull. But he made sure that didn’t happen. Throughout the set he said “This is a song request from Twitter.” Which I originally took as joke since he’s a smart ass. But he kept saying it, so maybe it wasn’t a joke? He was also taking requests from the crowd, saying once: “I’ll play your song, but that doesn’t make me a whore. All the sex on the street for money, that makes me a whore.” Reminding me of the sense of humor I share with friends of mine. This guy’s alright by me.

Although, I was a bit annoyed by some of the people in the crowd tonight. A lot seemed like the types who don’t go to a lot of shows, so they were violating some standard show etiquette: don’t continually bump into me dancing and say “Sorry.” Just stop bumping into me. And don’t push me out of the way so you can take my place. That sort of thing. But to be fair, I got to shows every night, so I’m a bit hyper sensitive to this sort of thing.

Toward the end of Rhett’s set he mentioned how he recently played the R.E.M. tribute show at Carnegie Hall (yet failed to use the standard “How do you get to Carnegie Hall?” joke), at which he played the song “Driver 8.” So he played it again tonight and it was great. I taught myself to play guitar in college by playing R.E.M. songs, and will hopefully one day thank Peter Buck for “teaching” me guitar. So that was a nice touch.

But it also made me realize that he hadn’t played the one song I was hoping he would: “Oppenheimer.” It was still a great show. During the encore he riffed about how LPR was at a French-named club, and then played a verse and chorus from “Question” in French. So have to give him props on that. And for making my tired old, 84th day in a row ass happy that I shelled out the $30 to see him tonight.

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