In 27 Years, I’ve Drunk 50,000 Beers
One of the problems you run into when you really like something is that sooner or later, that thing that you’ve afforded a clean, well-lit space in your brain or your heart of hearts or wherever it is that your obsessions can be said to reside will disappoint you. Pony up $20 for a rock show, and you expect some kind of paradigm shift in your consciousness, especially when it’s a band or performer who you’ve never seen play live before. But the trouble with that way of thinking is that nobody ever actually has these kind of transformative experiences. James Joyce is a big fucking liar, people. Nobody goes around having epiphanies all day. Doesn’t happen. In fact, the last epiphany we had we were, like, six years old and we had just been informed that the singer of Supertramp was a dude.
So: Silver Jews. Now we’re fully aware that other people seemed to enjoy the Friday and Saturday night shows at Webster Hall, but our take was more along the lines of mehhhh. It wasn’t the Daniel-Johnston-skips-his-meds-while-Cat-Power-shows-her-gnarly-pubes kind of free-form fuckup we cringily [not a word, but it should be] anticipated going in, given David Berman’s harrowing recent history of drugs, the odd suicide attempt and an appearance on MTV2. But it was a half-assed show.
Berman needs Malkmus, is the thing. The Jews had no skipper, and while Cassie was competent enough on bass, when there’s no one steering the ship, the rhythm section has to take over. It didn’t, and songs like “Buckingham Rabbit” suffered because of this. When the most exciting thing that happens is Bob Nastonovich stepping in behind the drum kit, are you reacting to the sound or are you just stroking your Nostalgia Weiner until hot gouts of Things Were Better Then Jizz spurt out and pollinate the rocky soil of your sad and sort of useless enthusiasms?
Of course, we’re the kind of person who questions whether we actually like anything at all. For instance, we think we like McLusky and Don DeLillo and college basketball, but maybe that’s all just shorthand, a cheap and easy way for us to identify ourselves and align ourselves with––or against––our peer group. When we were in middle school, we liked The Doors so much that we taped Square Pegs, a show we never watched, because fucking John Densmore was going to appear as a “special guest.” What, we ask, the fuck? Where did that go? Were we just stupid back then? The Doors are fucking terrible. So what happened to the like?
Not to go too far off on a tangent, but this sort of we-liked-it-once-but-now-it’s-shit (and sort of embarrassing, when you get right down to it), was instrumental in our developing one of our more controversial theories about popular music, which is: Nobody Really Likes The Who. They Just Pretend They Do. Argue that all you like, but it’s true and you know it.
So anyway, The Hüsker Jüs weren’t all that bad, given the fact that Berman should be dead right now if it weren’t for the agency of a good woman, and, cut the guy some slack, it was, like, his fifth live performance ever. But still. And the Rainman breakdown that was narrowly averted when that kid got all Temple of the Dog and jumped on stage to remove Berman’s “lucky” pink baseball cap made us feel all dirty inside, like a Tenth Avenue whore trolling for beejers in front of the Holland Tunnel. Or the smells Shane McGowan makes when he’s sleeping. Take your pick.
Also: The beers were $8 and the woman who served them was a rotten bitch. Sorry the whole performance art thing didn’t work out for you, toots, but there’s no reason to take it out on us.