Sunday, April 20, 2008

where butterflies and blackbirds perch

Thanks to a happy confluence of events, I've hardly been deprived of E and the eels between tours, but I wouldn't complain if their appearances increased a bit. Until that happens (i.e., never), I'll stick with Plan A and continue attending their shows up here.

eels, Palace of Fine Arts, April 14, 2008: One of the things I love about the fantastic group of people who filled up my hours in Chicago last weekend is that we're all music nuts, which should be clear in the way we track down, map out, and fill out our calendar with as many gigs as we can. Thus, even as we chowed down and awaited Jeff's arrival, we found plenty of time to discuss other gigs and artists. Thanks to Sooz's recent concert experience, we buzzed about E and the eels quite a bit.

Truthfully, we mostly chatted about the merchandise available at the shows, and let me assure you, there were some good 'uns. Alas, I resisted the undies, despite my long-held remorse over not buying Pulp knickers when I had a chance.

Sooz didn't tell me much about the show itself, perhaps because she wanted to keep it a surprise; further, I hate spoilers. For a band like the eels, this effort is worth it, as they do their best to mix it up from tour to tour.

The streak remained intact for this gig; in lieu of an opener, for the first hour-plus of the show, we watched Parallel Worlds, Parallel Lives, a documentary about E's father, the quantum physicist Hugh Everett III. (So that was why we were in a seated venue!) The film had the potential to be both obtuse in its explications of the elder Everett's radical theories, as well as maudlin in following E through his childhood home. Much in keeping with the eels' style, though, it was neither; rather, it was pretty funny, even when E mentioned his sister's suicide or finding his father's dead body. I think my favorite part of the movie was when E listened to old recordings, including one of his father, complete with incidental backing track of the young Mark Oliver Everett on drums.

Eels, Palace of Fine Arts, April 14, 2008

The musical portion of the evening also avoided your typical rock cliches. E and the Chet manned any of a number of instruments arranged in a circle around the stage: guitars, drums, a piano, a pump organ, a celeste, and even a musical saw. The arrangement reminded me a bit of a certain club in Los Angeles, especially when the two of them switched off drumming duties in the middle of a song and when the Chet took over the vocals for a Led Zeppelin tune.

Aside from this detour, the eels' catalog got a good workout, as they bashed out old favorites such as "I Like Birds," "Climbing to the Moon," "My Beloved Monster," and "Novocaine for the Soul," as well as deep album cuts. Supplementing the musical contributions were the voice of a god-like figure, the Chet's dramatic reading of selections from E's memoirs, and E hilariously sharing recent fan mail and concert reviews. I gotta hand it to them for giving us a true multimedia experience!

Legend has it that Bobby Jr. and his human companion can often be spotted traversing Hillhurst. With any luck, they'll take a detour out to Fairfax Avenue some time before Largo pulls up its roots. I'm not holding my breath, but as any eels show will prove, stranger things can happen.

See also:
» it's been said many times, many ways
» i like birds...and eels

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