I meant to post this yesterday, but I have been running a serious sleep deficit for the last week or so and only caught up Saturday by sleeping until two o’clock in the afternoon, by which point I was in no mood to do anything but watch TV and grunt.
For my birthday this year, Mat & Shannon bought us tickets to the Friday night Jonathan Coulton concert at The Moore Theater, which was an absolute blast. We took the train from the Tukwila Park-N-Ride into Westlake Center, which was an easy walk from both the theater and the Steelhead Diner, where we had a nosh before the concert. If you’ve never been (we hadn’t either), let me fervently recommend the Steelhead. They serve a wide variety of elevated diner grub, with lots of seafood and vegetarian choices in addition to classy upsells of old favorites. Margaret and I both had the Wagyu burger, Matt had the catfish and Shannon had potato latkes and a plate of roasted broccoli. Four people, appetizers, beer, entrees, one dessert and coffee for just over a hundred bucks, in downtown Seattle, canyoudigit. We’d go there again in a heartbeat, any time we were in the area.
And by gum, we plan to be in the area more often. I simply cannot describe for you how much of a rail whore I have become. I hate driving in downtown. Hate. HATE. Driving. In downtown. 1st Avenue South is like some sort of grim death march for much of the day. And while there are a multitude of highways, byways and myways one may use to get into the area, once you’re there you’re still….well, there. You still have to crawl along the clogged thoroughfares. You still have to deal with the throngs of tourists who treat the crosswalks as their own personal pedestrian footbridge. And you still, God help you, have to find a place to park. Instead, for about half the cost of parking downtown, Margaret and I were able to park for free at the Tukwila station and ride round-trip into the heart of downtown, well within walking distance of a dizzying array of shops, restaurants, museums, theaters (both movie and live), the Pike Place Market, and just about anything else we might care to pursue in the metropolitan area. And trains run until nearly one in the morning….which is way later than I’m running these days, lemmetellyou.
So after a leisurely dinner, we meandered up to the Moore and got there in plenty of time to see the opening band, Paul and Storm, who naturally opened with their song about being the opening band entitled “Opening Band“. They were hysterical, and the crowd ate them up like so many Pepperoni Hot Pockets.
Both of these bands represent a wonderful trend in indie music, namely the ascension of nerd rock. Sure, nerds have had their place in music since time immemorial, probably all the way back to the point where the rest of the tribe decided to feed the one guy who could knock old water buffalo skulls together in an esthetically pleasing way. But it seems as though the Information Age has been particularly kind to the musical nerd. From the advent of synthesizers and sequencers (allowing for the creation of the 256-piece one-man band) to the rapid evolution of the home recording studio and the rise of the Internet as the ultimate distribution channel, ghost white, pencil-necked AV wonks have profited from their appropriation of the means of production as much or more than any other musical genre. And since so many of us in that demographic long ago learned to shield ourselves behind a fecund and self-deprecating sense of humor, it’s not at all surprising that nerd rock tends to be hilarious.
Margaret and I were absolutely enchanted with the performance, and looked upon the audience of fellow travelers with something akin to affection. The overwhelming preponderance of suspenders, scruffy facial hair, and bellies overspilling waistbands was strangely charming….at least, it was strangely charming once we came to our senses and went up into the largely vacant balcony seats, away from the enormous sweaty man who sat next to us singing along off-tempo and out of key with every song. When Paul and Storm performed—no shit—a tribute song to the inventor of the chicken nugget, they suggested that it would not be inappropriate for folks to hold up their lighters—or, for those who had iPhones, to hold their phones aloft with the Virtual Zippo app running. And holy crap, you would not believe the number of iPhones that shot into the air. And those rarefied few who did not yet have the Zippo app feverishly scrambled to download it from Apple’s store before the chorus. Sometimes my fellow tribespeople can give me a minor case of the creeps; seriously, these were nerds whom I wanted to beat up and take lunch money from.
Jonathan Coulton played for about two hours, both by himself and with accompaniment from Paul and Storm, and local ukulele artist Molly Lewis, who also played a couple of her own songs. All of them seemed to have great fun performing (believe me, you have not heard “Mr. Fancy Pants” until you’ve heard it live, with Coulton pounding out crazy Gene Krupa riffs on a hand-held drum controller hooked to his laptop), and God knows they couldn’t have asked for a more enthusiastic audience. All in all, a wonderful, fun-filled evening.