Then I found a job
But heaven knows I'm miserable now
Jon Brion, Largo at the Coronet, December 12, 2008: No, that's not true--the current 9-to-5 affords me some flexibility, in addition to a regular paycheck. After all, it can't be so bad if I manage to make it Los Angeles once (or more) each month, right? Then again, for some time now, "if" hasn't been the question.
In his intro, Flanny gifted an audience member with the Synecdoche, New York soundtrack, pressed us to attend the upcoming "super secret" Funny or Die show, then made way for Jon. Though feeling under the weather, Jon bade us "good morning" and apprised us of the night's experiment: what happens after downing two Red Bulls. Actually, he later admitted that he couldn't bring himself to finish the second dose; call it the 1.5 Red Bull Night.
From there, the show took its customary turn into piano improv, followed by one of Jon's originals. But after a pretty instrumental passage, he cut himself off and 'fessed to favoring "pseudo-classical music" whenever he's sick. To compensate, he kicked off a round of "anti-scale music" in which he stabbed at every keys-based instrument within arm's reach. From the dissonance, a regular rhythm emerged and formed the foundation for a pulsing "Stop Your Sobbing."
With the piano suitably tested, Jon moved to the other instruments. He first built up "Further On," coming alive on the guitar solo, then landed on the solo bass for a couple more tunes. I liked hearing "Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now" without the vocoder, so thanks for that!
And then things got weird, and not the usual Largo weird. I think Jon started it with the Little Rascals, and taking our cue, the audience bombarded him with requests for more of the same until he practically became the Theme Machine. Before the end of the night, Jon would dabble in songs made famous in movies and TV shows, both on his own and with the help of Sebastian Steinberg on bass. In between, they also dipped into the cheesier end of the pop spectrum, teasing out hints of Madonna and Meat Loaf.
Though I was right in the thick of it, I'm furrowing my brow in disbelief as I type this, so I'll also point out that Jon snuck in more substantial picks too, such as a rousing "Waterloo Sunset," a layered "Positively 4th Street," and, errrr, a fairly exhaustive "Axel F." At first, it seemed like Sebastian's participation would temper the goofier impulses, but he proved himself just as susceptible when he went to town on the Barney Miller theme. Our shameful "Boys Are Back in Town" sing-along didn't help either. Man, I miss the Hideout.
As requested, Jon welcomed Dusty from the audience for a couple of numbers: first, auditioning him with a jam, then diving into "Not Ready Yet," burnished with a psychedelic spin. Dusty held his own, especially during the jam, and walked away with a huge grin on his face. Another satisfied customer!
It's a cliche, but they saved the best for last tonight. (Full disclosure: We had been tipped off to this earlier, but trust me, that didn't take away from the experience.) David Rawlings ambled out to join them and, after a meandering conference, tried out a song with Jon and Sebastian: "Roll Over Beethoven." A few moments in, Gillian Welch sauntered over to the drums and kicked up the beat behind David's wailing vocals.
David and Gillian stuck around for the final song, which required another huddle. Finally, Jon reached for the lyric book that accompanied him onstage at the top of the show, and with a little help, they serenaded us with a quarter-time version (does that even exist?) of the Buzzcocks' "Ever Fallen in Love." My favorite touch: the smidgen of celeste, courtesy of David.
Still to come: The show moves to the Little Room.
--"anti-scale music"/Stop Your Sobbing
--Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now
--It Looks Like You
--Little Rascals Theme
--Davey and Goliath Theme
--Planet of the Apes
--What'll I Do
--Two Out of Three Ain't Bad
--Positively 4th Street
--Walking After Midnight
with Sebastian Steinberg
--Please Stay Away from Me
--The Boys Are Back in Town
--Anarchy in the UK
--Sesame Street theme
--Barney Miller theme
--Wild Wild West theme
with Dusty from the audience and Sebastian Steinberg
--Not Ready Yet
with David Rawlings, Gillian Welch, and Sebastian Steinberg
--Roll Over Beethoven [David = vocals]
--Ever Fallen in Love
» like a dream in the night
» please take my advice