The Sweat Descends
On Saturday night I had a beer in a church. The Epiphany Episcopal Church to be precise, on the outskirts of Chicago's west loop. A fantastic venue for a concert and my favorite band in the world, Les Savy Fav, did not disappoint. Oddly enough, the beer tasted just like regular beer despite being sanctified, at least, locationally.
Walking inside I was greeted by the ticket folk, then allowed to enter the nave where tables were set up in the back corners hawking beer and water and hard liquor. The pews were removed and jammed against the walls where people were tossing their coats, hats and winter gear. About 400 people turned up, which is of course an estimate, and I was surprised by the number of women in the audience. probably close to 40/60, which is simply unheard of at these kind of shows. So either Chicago women are turned on by a front-man with a great big beard and belly (I can't say I blame them, Tim is quite charming), or just love great music.
The bands (LSF was accompanied by Jai Alai Savant) performed upon the raised chancel which was backed by a large floral mural, vaguely edenic, with a bunch of saints and our Lord and savior. There was barely any dressing of the stage although I'm not sure if it was prohibited or even necessary in the first place with such are great background. A bunch of lights were all that was needed to illuminate the murals, band, and audience in turn with your typical supersaturated concert reds and greens. Jai Alai Savant proved to be skilled and cheerful openers, and did the trick of warming everyone up. By the time they finished up I was in a knot of folks located just right of center, four or five people deep from the band.
Tim Harrington came out dressed as a priest, an outfit that didn't last long, which he used to deliver a somewhat boring if not blasphemous prayer akin to 'rub-a-dub-dub, thanks for the grub.' And when they began to play the crowd went apeshit, at least where I was standing. You know everything is well and good when you leap up and gravity doesn't restore you back to earth because everyone else is jumping and pressed up tight together. Tim did his audience participation thing, jumping down into the crowd and wandering about, sometimes mucking around quite deep, which can be disorienting for folks, since it seems like many people focus soley on the singer, and you have much of the audience in the front with their backs to the band while other concert-goers, by far the minority, continue to cheer on the rest of the musicians.
I've always thought of Tim as kind of an overgrown toddler, who is fascinated by everything and gets easily distracted from the music by alternately being a showman and audience member himself. At times it seems to exasperate the rest of the band, I noticed the bassist, Syd giving knowing glances to the tech guys, as if to say "It's just not worth reigning him back, just let him go." At one point Syd had to remind Tim what song was next, but at least he received a delighted, "I love that song!' in response. But in general Syd and the rest of the guys seem content to be, well, not forgotten, they're too skilled for that.
As always there was a lot of physicality in Tim's showing off. the tight clothes, the wigs, the near nudity, at one point he wore a green spandex number with leopard fringe that Harrington claimed was taken from a rapper named 'middle weezy' or 'medium-sized jeezy' or something like that. And his crowning moment came in the audience where he knelt down in front of the guy next to me, unzipped his fly, and tucked the mic in the hole and began to sing his lyrics as if giving head. As many as a dozen or so cell-phone cameras were snapping pictures and recording the moment for posterity.
My only lament was that I am old and very quickly became pretty beaten up and broken down, just halfway threw the set or so. Before that I was nearly hysterical, as were those around me. Tim even gave us a shout saying, "You guys ought to spread out through the rest of the crowd." Sadly I couldn't keep up. I was dehydrated before things even began, and when I started seeing stars I thought it best to get some air. I watched the remainder of the show from the sidelines, with people gently bobbing their heads and singing along.
Yet i must have been doing something right. It's days later and I'm still sore.