If Pete could write about each and every show he sees without jeopardizing his employment status or mental health, he would totally do it. Fortunately for him, he knows better. Fortunately for us, he is just obsessive and irresponsible enough to try it anyway. Ever the enablers, we are posting recaps of each of the first eleven shows that Petey hit in 2011.
Ever since Pete Townshend first murdered a guitar on stage (and probably before, for all I know), rock bands have constantly sought ways to add a little something extra to their concerts. By now, we pretty much assume it’s all been done, right? I mean, once you’ve seen a person in a Sharon Osbourne costume get its oversized tits cut off, spraying the audience with green fluid, what else is there to see?
And yet, here I was at Club Oberon for my ninth concert of the year and four-hundredth-or-so of my lifetime and, somehow, the David Wax Museum managed to show me a good two or three things I’ve never before seen at a show.
David Wax Museum – “That’s Not True” – Everything Is Saved
(PGB Track of the Week #72 – Feb. 2011)
The CD Release Party for their third LP Everything Is Saved started innocently enough. Six pieces of the band’s ever-fluctuating lineup (including mainstays David Wax and Suz Slezak) took the stage, looking quite at home in front of Club Oberon’s grand, old-timey red curtain, and opened their set with a seemingly straight-forward rendition of “That’s Not True,” a mid-paced folk tune from the new album.
Halfway through the song, everyone on the stage went silent… but before you could wonder why they’d stopped, the song resumed – only from a different place, and with different instrumentation. The audience whirled in unison towards the back of the club, where another phalanx of musicians had appeared in one corner of the theater’s balcony. As the song continued, they paraded down the steps, through the crowd and up to the stage, uniting horns, percussion and a second accordion with the ensemble that commenced the soirée.
The Americana-gone-Son Jarocho phenoms used every talent offered by their cast of 12 multi-instrumentalists, and every conceivable amenity of the Club Oberon space. On one song, crepe paper streamers came flying from above like a Blue Man Group show. On a few others, the band split off into smaller teams who played their parts on one or more of the balconies… or the staircases… or even the bar tops! At one point, Slezak put down her fiddle to rattle a fleshless jawbone as she does on certain numbers (fun fact: the donkey jaw, or “quijada” is one of the main instruments of Afro-Peruvian percussion), only this time she was joined moments later by another quijadist (or, if you prefer, “jawboner”… huh-huh, huh-huh), and then another, and then another until half of the band was playing dead animal parts! I’m assuming that the band has since received a threatening letter or two from outraged PETA members.
The most unusual bit of theatrics happened late in the set, when a trapeze aerialist performed some human origami in the middle of the crowd, while two accordions and a percussionist provided the soundtrack. Later, as always, the core members of the band stood in a tight circle among the audience while they played their gospel-waltz lullaby, “Let Me Rest.”
After the last song, the crowd was treated to a screening of the music video for “Born With A Broken Heart,” the first single from Everything Is Saved. The video shows Wax and Slezak busking around Harvard Square and beyond, riding in pick-ups, playing with dandelions, flirtatiously shadow-boxing, standing on milk-crates and doing other spunky-free-spirit stuff on a partly cloudy Autumn day. I was reminded of the old SNL skit where Christopher Walken tells the Census taker: “When you say it like that, my life sounds pretty damn good.”
Pretty damn fun to watch, too.
You can see Johnny Arguedas’ full photo gallery from this show on the Arguedas Photography website!