After watching a master at time mis-management in Columbus Ohio earlier in the day I borrowed from his playbook and pulled Beverly out the door at 7:45 to try to make it to a concert that was starting in Hollywood at 8. We didn’t care about seeing the first band so we decided to eat before going in. Now, this is where it got complicated. I didn’t realize that the Orpheum Theater was in one of the worst parts of Los Angeles – the fashion district. Where normally getting parking metered spots (free after 6pm) a few blocks from a venue is acceptable – when your girlfriend is hobbling on crutches it is not. The parking garage smelled like a urinal (without the cake) and was literally imploding – as I backed into my spot I had to watch out for the buckled in wall. As soon as I parked I realized that I had no cash to get out later, I also realized I didn’t have my debit card to withdraw any. We hit the street and I looked around frantically for somewhere to eat. The closest thing was a small food-court on the corner. I felt like we were walking into a movie set. The restaurants were open – but barely – with staff puttering around in the back but not a cashier in site despite a few lost looking customers. There were a human beings scattered throughout – looking like they’d do just about anything to swap lives with anyone that walked through the door that they hadn’t seen before.
Beverly wanted the $3.99 KFC meal – they didn’t have it. I wanted the taco salad from Carl’s Jr./Green Burrito – they didn’ t have it. We settled for barely edible chicken strips and a burger, ate quickly (but didn’t drink the yellow water they offered up in my water cup) and got the hell out of there. One good thing did come of it though – I was able to get “cash back” at KFC from my VISA card when ordering, thus solving the parking lot problem that was fomenting in my brain.
Beverly noted that I’d “never make it in China.” I noted that she was probably right, and that she was in remarkably good spirits given the circumstances.
We went back to the Orpheum and took an old fashioned freight elevator to the balcony level. The entire building was very ornate. Like the Wiltern – but with a more Liberace look – including very large and very old chandeliers hanging over our heads. After taking a limping Beverly straight to the wrong seats we finally found our way. Despite having what looked like “the best” seats on paper these were not. There was a separate balcony section not listed on the ticketmaster seating chart for the venue that extended out some ten rows in front of us. We would be looking at the back of three people for the rest of the night (even though everyone around them had the common sense to sit down). As we sat down the first artist took the stage.
Lloyd Cole was simply – Lloyd Cole, a man and his guitar. Apparently he is much more famous on his home turf (England). He wasn’t bad – but he wasn’t all that interesting either. We see enough middle aged guys strumming guitars on the sidewalks in Los Angeles that it was hard not to ignore him and pretend we didn’ t have any change.
After Lloyd we ended up switching seats with the folks at the end of our row because the seating was more cramped than the Universal Studios IMAX theater (i.e. leg room was about ten inches). All the beads of sweat on my brow from earlier evaporated away when Stars came on and started playing a good show. By my count the songs played from In Our Bedroom After the War and Set Yourself on Fire were split, with the set rounded out by a Smith’s cover (that I’ll admit I wasn’t cool enough to recognize) and two old songs that must have been from Heart.
Before playing One More Night Torquil Campbell (looking much gayer and thinner than I expected) explained that the song was inspired by Los Angeles as it is about “fucking someone to death.” I still maintain that this was a joke (and a jab at Los Angeles) as the song is clearly about the last night with someone before breaking off the relationship. Later Torquil would insult the hometown crowd again by asking “Do you all know the San Fernando Valley? It’s a great place to go get (something unintelligible) and a prostitute” before the start of Reunion. A strange reference as the song is clearly about a high school reunion – but the only member of the band who ever lived in Los Angeles was Amy Millan – but from age 23 to 27. Perhaps this show enabled her to reunite with some friends from the Valley.
The first set concluded with the closer (and title track) of the new album (which in my opinion is a tepid attempt at being Arcade Fire). The encore included My Favorite Book (which is probably my favorite song off of the new album) and ended with Calendar Girl (which is probably Beverly’s favorite song off of Set Yourself on Fire).
After the show we headed to Cafe 50’s, which is quickly becoming one of our regular hang-outs, to share some milkshakes.