New Model Army + David J photos are up now. Man, what a fantastic show! David J was alone on stage, and played some new songs, but also quite a few accoustic numbers from his Bauhaus and Love and Rockets days ("Who Killed Mr. Moonlight", "No New Tale to Tell", etc.) But the high point (for me, anyway) was that one of the CDs he had on sale at the show was him performing live at DNA Lounge back in January!
New Model Army also did a (mostly) accoustic set, and I was very impressed. I'm not real familiar with their music, but they were really, really great live.
The downside to the show was that a small percentage of the audience seemed to be completely oblivious as to what is appropriate behavior at an accoustic performance. There were two or three small groups of people who spent whole show being boisterous and screaming and cackling at each other, ensuring that the 200+ other people who actually did care about the show had to hear the quiet parts of the songs punctuated by the mating call of drunks. I mean, sure, this is a nightclub and not a church, but seriously, this went way beyond "bad movie theatre behavior."
Even better was that one of the louder groups was up on the closed-off half of the balcony: which means that all those people were friends of club staffers. So that means that not only were they screwing it up for the people who actually cared about the show, but also almost certainly meant that none of them even paid to get in.
For obvious reasons, I find it interesting to read about other clubs and how they came about. Caroline loaned me a fascinating book called This Ain't No Disco: The Story of CBGB. Recently someone pointed me at a very long (and interesting) "oral history" of the Minneapolis club First Avenue (you may know it as "the club in Purple Rain.") Also good reading is Working on a Building of Love, a history of The Hacienda, the Factory Records club in Manchester. This was also the subject of the recent movie 24 Hour Party People, but that article is a lot more interesting (and believable) than the movie was.
There are some interesting parallels between CBGB and First Ave. You can pretty much sum up both their histories like this: open a dive; have live music all the time, with no customers to speak of; it becomes a place where most of the customers are also members of the bands who play there; squeak by in poverty for five years, then BANG, something happens and suddenly there's a vibrant music scene and the place is packed all the time.
Sounds like a good plan: the piece we're missing here is "low overhead." Sadly, our overhead here could more accurately be described as "astronomical."
I was trying to see NMA in KC, MO... did not happen +(
How was the show?
First Avenue is a great club for two reasons in my opinion: first, live music, lots of it, and it sounds good. I would rather see a mediocre band at First Avenue than a better band at some of the nicer competing clubs because the sound quality is so hit-or-miss at other places. The second reason for first avenue's greatness is that they seem to care more about the music scene they support than the survival of the club itself, and have actually gone so far as to set up a nonprofit group to support local music that will let the spirit survive should First Ave. ever close.
Yeah, the city has redeveloped the area so heavily that the club is in danger of getting squeezed out, but it makes for wonderful moments like this: on the opening night of the shiny new Hard Rock Cafe across the street, First Avenue had a band called Savage Aural Hotbed playing outdoors on the rooftop, about twelve feet up and right next to the street. The band favors instruments such as power saws grinding on steel drums.
Meg Lee Chin played in the small room (called 7th Street Entry) that same night.