Sunday, October 30, 2005

top 5 Largo memories

Believe it or not, I have a life apart from Largo, but it's not particularly blogworthy. Also, I'm trying to up my Google ranking. Thanks for checking back, folks.

Before this year, my Largo attendance record was somewhat spotty. Cut me some slack--San Francisco isn't that close to Los Angeles, especially when you work regular hours, Monday through Friday. I think my previous record for most Largo shows in a year was five. This year has blown that number out of the water, and I count my lucky stars that my friends are willing to put up with me just so that they can enjoy good music.

This recent run has inspired me to put together a small list. This is not meant to be inclusive; there are too many memories of silly singalongs, granted requests, star cameos, and inspired musicianship to include here. Also, in the grand scheme of things, I've barely been to Largo at all, but I like to think I've had some good times. Without further ado:

5. Jon Brion playing a Halloween set in a skeleton suit (October 31, 2003): It was around this time that Jon was doing his "songbook" Thursdays in addition to his regular Friday gigs in alleged preparation for his tour.


Wow, that felt good, but let's return to the story. Back then, I had different rules about rock tourism (most of which have now gone out the window), and I recognized the opportunity to see two Jon Brion shows in one trip to the southland. So I caught his Thursday night show with the Section and darkened Largo's doorstep the next night for Jon's regular set.

The opener was Kennedy doing a pretty funny imitation of Jon, followed by the man himself. When he hit the stage, he wore his usual clothes, but during the extended opener of Halloween-themed songs, he started stripping, finally revealing--no, not his birthday suit--but a full-length skeleton costume underneath. He proceeded to play the rest of the set with the costume, oversize skeleton hands and all. My cousin claims this remains one of her favorites of the shows she's seen.

That night was unusual, for a couple of reasons. First off, Jon did only one set. As I recall, he claimed that it was all this "bag of bones" could be expected to do. Also, it was the only time I've ever been seen Largo not full on a Friday night. Later, as we drove down Santa Monica Boulevard and saw the Halloween revelers, it became obvious why.

eels, Souljacker4. E and Mary Lynn Rajskub chasing an adorable dog through club.
This is where my memory gets fuzzy. In late 1999 and early 2000, Lina and I saw a couple of Jon Brion gigs where members of the eels showed up. I think at one, Butch was the opener, and for his "act," he read selections from the British edition of Penthouse Forum (or was it Penthouse Letters?). For both, E opened, previewing songs from the then-unreleased Daisies of the Galaxy.

It was at one of these shows that during Jon's set, a big, fluffy, white puppy ran through the audience, trailed closely by E and Mary Lynn. I'm pretty sure the same dog is one of the cover stars of the eels' Souljacker. In retrospect, I probably should've been disturbed that the dog was anywhere near the kitchen, but as I remind everyone, you don't come to Largo for the food.

3. Kanye West joins Jon Brion onstage (March 18, 2005). Largo owes part of its legendary status to the stories of luminaries showing up just for the hell of it, but let's face it--most of the people who hit the stage aren't exactly household names and are certainly not MTV regulars. Kanye West, however, doesn't fit the Largo mold. Even now, when I try to tell the uninitiated about Largo, most of them don't have any idea of how amazing the place is until I mention Kanye.

I wrote up a fuller account when this happened, but my appreciation of that night has only grown since the original date. I admit that Kanye's guest appearance in September was cooler (complete with Jon Brion throwing a Rocafella diamond!), but back in March, all we knew was that a certified Grammy-winning, platinum-selling artist was on the Largo stage. It took a little while to put the pieces together, but thankfully, Late Registration hints at the awesomeness of that night.

2. Neil Finn (February 20, 2004)! My previous blog pretty much says it all. I still pinch myself at the memory. Eeeeeeeee!!!

Drum roll, please....

1. Grant Lee Phillips, Jon Brion, and Robyn Hitchcock making up songs about pigeons (Summer 1999). You know it has to be a good night that keeps a Neil Finn surprise appearance off the top of the list! I'm pretty sure that at this point, I was going to Largo explicitly for Grant's shows and was not yet a Jon Brion acolyte, though I was already familiar with his talents and his knack for dropping in on friends. I also recall that I had just seen Robyn at the Fillmore on the combined tour with the Flaming Lips, Sebadoh, and Sonic Boom, among others earlier that week, and I guess that the tour was in LA that week, thus offering him a chance to join his musical friends.

I can't even begin to remember the full hijinks of the evening, but deeply ingrained in my temporal lobe is the vision of Grant, Jon, and Robyn crammed on the Largo stage, taking requests and making up songs about pigeons. My favorite title of the night: "Take Me Home, Country Pigeon." There was a tune about the dearly departed species, the passenger pigeon, as well.

I think this was my first true taste of the beauty and inspired lunacy of Largo. Even now, with about three dozen trips to Largo under my belt, I don't think I've seen such a musical spectacle. Sure, Grant's solo shows were great, and seeing him play with Jon opened my eyes to a certain extent, but with Robyn Hitchcock, they took it to at least two more new levels. Everyone always says Jon's shows are impossible to describe until you've seen one; on that note, there's simply no way I can try to capture the memories of that evening. I'm just going to have to leave it at that. And I haven't even touched on the Eyes Wide Shut parody that opened the evening.

So there you have it, folks. Here's to many more. Won't you join me?

See also:
» i won't be denied
» i can teach you, but i have to charge
» get a load of the lengths I go to
» unplug the jukebox and do us all a favour
» Take Me Home, Country Pigeon

No comments: