Monday, January 26, 2015

When Drummers Fall Out of The Sky

January 26, 2015
   Saturday I started my new goal of doing five warm up sketches and paintings, utilizing my Do-Or-Die pile, and executing them without hope, without despair. Results to follow.

Daily Whip Out: "The Ernest Cowboy"

Daily Whip Out: "Jesse James All Alone"

Daily Whip Out: "Into The Draw"

    Last weekend, Kathy and I booked a hotel in downtown Phoenix in order to go see Eric Church on Saturday night. We got a room at the Fairfield Inn just south of Virginia and Central, so we could have access to the light rail, which runs into downtown Phoenix and by the US Airways Arena, where the concert was being held.

   Before we went to the concert we treated ourselves to a late lunch at Gallo Blanco where I had a flight of tacos (as opposed to a flight of wine). Had the carne asado taco, a puerco taco and a shrimp taco:
A flight of tacos from Gallo Blanco

   We then caught the light rail into downtown Phoenix and fought our way into the sold out US Airways Arena. We had decent seats ($75 each) stage left, halfway down, and as we found our seats, we caught the opening act, Hailstorm, who did a heavy metal set, with the red-headed drummer throwing his sticks about fifteen feet in the air and catching them, in stride. I haven't seen that much drummer flair (i.e. ego on parade) since I saw The Young Rascals at High Corbett Field in Tucson in 1966. After the Hailstorm set, the drummer jumped over his set and ran along the far side cat walk to hand slap all fifteen of his fans.

   Next up was Dwight Yoakam, who put on a great set of old school Bakersfield twang, with the traditional set up of a drummer at the rear-center of the stage with a wall of amps to either side. Dwight closed with "Bad As You," a rousing set. After his set the house lights came on and the roadies cleared the stage. I went to the bathroom, came back and the stage was still empty. I wondered what was wrong. Surely, Eric Church has a band and a drummer? Where are the drums? Where are the amps? Fifteen minutes later, the lights went down and a lone guy approached out of the darkness at the back of the stage and approached a microphone. Slowly, four other git pickers came on stage from the same direction and spread out, without cords, or visible amps.

Old Man Freaked Out By Lack of Amps and Drums On Stage.
   Eric went into the opening refrain from "The Outsiders," one of my favorite songs. In fact, on the train ride down, Kathy and I rode with four high school girls also going to the concert. Out of courtesy, one of them asked me what I wanted to hear at the concert and I said, "Springsteen" and "The Outsiders." Just when the slam-bam opening hit, the scoreboard opened up and the drummer descended from 75 feet up in the ceiling, as he played his heart out on the riff heavy song. I couldn't imagine being that high up on a drum platform with a 75 foot drop on all four sides. Crazy. Scary. Amazing:

The Eric Church Stage: all catwalks and no amps, or DRUMS!

   The show was nonstop laser-sharp, choreographed lighting and set changes, with Eric running to every corner to sing, while his guitarists (one guy appeared to be a refugee from Metallica, another a castoff from ZZ top) went to their assigned positions to rip out a lead break. It was also non stop adrenalin for two-plus hours. I have seen the Beatles, the Stones, Frank Sinatra, The Who, Jethro Tull and the Beach Boys (6 times) but I have to say this was right up there with the best I've ever seen, or heard. Great music and a great show.

Eric gets the crowd to sing along

A Giant Blow-up of A Nashville Devil appeared during a song about Nashville and the devil.

Put Another Drink In My Hand, indeed!

   One favorite moment was when Eric said the last time he played Phoenix was at the Cajun House and Graham Central Station, both night clubs (the Cajun House in Scottsdale and Graham in Glendale) and the crowd went wild at the local mentions. Eric chided the audience saying, "You weren't all there because I remember." The essence being he had graduated from some very small venues to this sold out show. I believe his first album was in 2007.

   The show got out at 11:40 and Kathy and I were flat out giddy, because we were still awake! We got on the light rail at Washington and First Street and lo and behold, there were the same four high school girls we rode downtown with. One of the girls said, "When we heard Eric begin with 'The Outsiders' we knew there was one happy old man in the audience." The way she said it, stabbed me right in the heart.

Old Man and Trophy Wife Ride The Midnite Train to Virginia (and Central)

Light Rail Carrying Heavy Traffic

   To celebrate staying up past midnite I treated Kathy to a nightcap at the legendary Durant's which was a stone's throw from our hotel:

A nightcap at Durant's at Central and Virginia

   They were actually closing but I begged the bartender to help an old man celebrate his long lost youth. He complied although he charged me $24 for two martinis.

"You will live and you will die. Both are good."
—Old Vaquero Saying