Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The Pilgrimage Completed: Shoes Live!

So I finally did it.

After 33 years of fandom, I made it to see Shoes play live.

It was worth every second of the wait.

Last weekend, with a determined set to my jaw, the spouse and I took off for Racine, Wisconsin, and a small club called McAuliffe's, where Shoes played in 2009 before they headed off to Japan. Here's some video from that show:

You couldn't have shot this video last weekend: it was much, much more crowded. I was sitting about where the videographer was 4 years ago, but as Shoes took the stage, the crowd surged forward. Here was my view for the opening song:

So when the lovely and charming McCormick sisters dragged me out onto the dance floor, I didn't fight too hard. Here's where I ended up by the end of the night, beet-red and sweaty and perfectly, unselfconsciously happy.

Blame away, but see that tall drink of water two rows behind me? The one taking a pic on his iPhone? He was standing in front of my table, and he had to be 6'7" or 8". It was a freakishly tall crowd. (Rumors that he was the illicit offspring of a certain Shoe remain unsubstantiated.) Also, and this surprised me a little, the crowd was young. In this shot, you mostly see oldsters like me (and my co-author, Moira McCormick, just to my left), bu there was a pretty sizable cadre of under 30s, hipsters with spiked hair and clunky glasses, including one kid who had come from Germany for the show.

Set List: Your Devotion/Don't Do This to Me/Say It Like You Mean It/Animal Attraction/Now and Then/MayDay/Too Late/When It Hits/Love Is Like a Bullet/Burned Out Love/Torn In Two/Hangin Around with You/Feel the Way that I Do/Heaven Help Me/Tomorrow Night/Curiosity/Your Imagination/Hot Mess/I Don't Wanna Hear It/She Satisfies. First encore: I Don't Miss You/Hate to Run. Second encore: Capital Gain.

People who've hunted up Shoes on youtube know that they can sometimes be ragged live: bad monitoring makes it impossible for them to fit their voices together the way they do in the studio, mics can be capricious (Jeff's had to be changed out during sound check at this show), and there's a myriad of other issues that can just crop up and cause problems.

None of that happened here. They were tight, the sound was tight, and any mistakes were glossed right over. At one point, John invited us to drink a shot every time they messed up: we would all have been disappointingly sober, had we done so.

The official reason for this show was a warm-up for their first-ever trip to South by Southwest, the massive music and film festival in Austin, Texas. I'm seeing them listed as one of most anticipated acts at the Festival, as here and here.

If this weekend was any indication, they should rock the hell out of the kids in Austin!


danny1959 said...

Aren't there a lot of Nordic people in Wisconsin? Might that explain the tallness?

NYMary said...

Oh, maybe! The return of the Viking hordes!

Sir George Martin said...

How was the sound? Not "how did they handle the sound," which was plainly "well," but how was the quaslity?

And how were the Bradburys? I heard the whole night rocked

NYMary said...

It was pretty good. Most of the night, I was too far forward to really get a feel for the house stacks, and I think the sound guy made a pretty predictable mistake, which was running the vocals through the midrange speakers, which has a tendency to push their voices a little higher than they actually are. They sound a little richer if you can divert some of that signal into the low end. (An old Shoes sound guy explained all this to me during the interviews for the book.) But I've heard many worse soundguy performances.

And the Bradburys were terrific. Their 2009 release, Don't Pump the Swingset, is a great EP

Anonymous said...

I was completely pleased with the sound. After the Millenium Park gig and the Radio thing, I was a bit worried that my memories of their IPO performance might have been wrong. They weren't - they were excellent. The guys sounded great. Such an incredible show.

Anonymous said...

Too Late could have come right off of the record. Mary is a pretty good dancer too. I have video.

steve simels said...

They opened with "Your Devotion"?

Good lord--that's like beginning with a climax.

Seriously--sounds like you caught a great show.

steve simels said...

Hey Mary -- you never told me your co-author was such a babe.

NYMary said...

I haven't? Oh, she's lovely!

Libby Spencer said...

What a great adventure. I love a happy story.

Moira McCormick said...

You guys are making my day, y'know...

Anonymous said...

So where is the book already??