Sometimes you need that kick. Luna - three nights in San Francisco (2: Penthouse)
Double Feature starts with Lee kicking the bass drum a little extra, it's a deep bass sound. Sean plays rhythm guitar, Dean leans down and increases the fuzz sound of his guitar. It sounds electrical. Sean takes over, playing an intense solo, then it goes back to Dean, “who you're gonna be, when you walk into my life?”. This is when the concert really starts. It's been on auto pilot before, or maybe it was just me, sometimes an extra kick is what you need to get things started.
Chinese crêpes are pretty much exactly what they sound like. Jiangbing in Chinese. I had it filled with pulled pork and cumin and cilantro. Ulrika with tuna and seaweed. In the area called Inner Sunset. What a nice name for a neighbourhood. Then we walked a short stroll on 9th Avenue and got into Golden Gate Park. The vegetation was deep green because of all the rain that had fallen the past weeks. And we reached the Japanese Tea Garden. We met Kelly and the three of us walked on the stone paths in the rain, across the ponds. Me and the girls.
The rain got more intense and we sat down and ordered Japanese tea, talked about trumpets and pedal steel guitars. We were surrounded by the leafs, the rain, the air so crisp and cold. Couldn't ask for much more at that time. But the girls where cold and I guess I was too. We went to de Young Museum close by and Ashley and Sean joined too. We studied the impressive paintings, American art from the 17th century to present. “Rainy Season in the Tropics” by Frederic Edwin Church from 1866 was pretty remarkable, most paintings were remarkable.
Some of the art was less remarkable, but we had a good time, it was fun. Sean recommended the photographs by Danny Lyon, mostly known for his portraits of motorcycle gangs from the 1960's. I was especially impressed of his photos from the New York subways. Documenting the everyday life has always captured me and this was exactly that. Beautiful photos, slightly out of focus, real people.
We all went to the roof top observatory and saw San Francisco from above. Ashley hugged me, just like she can do, big intense hug. I did a wrestling throw on her. Once I slept in the same bed as Alexander Karelin, I learned a lot that night. Me and Ulrika went to Mission were the concert venue is, to meet Frank, Marjorie, Giselle and Mike. We had Italian food together, the best pizza in San Francisco they say, at Delfina on 18th Street. The waiter described the white wine as a hug in the rain, I wanted a hug in the rain.
Once I slept in the same bed as Alexander Karelin, I learned a lot that night.
The echo and reverb is huge on the vocals on 23 Minutes in Brussels, “say a prayer… tell me do you miss me”. This song varies a lot, but it always feels really weird to hear in the first half of the set, it's supposed to be a closer. It's always interesting to hear what they do to it, if Sean's solo's are going to be totally spaced out, if Dean's fumbling is going to be as wonderfully fumbling only he is capable of. How Happy Lee is going to be. How deep Britta can bend her knees, how cool she is going to look, over in the corner. It's a good version, but it's too early!
Dean hands out the pins, even throws them. “Don't let anyone get poked in the eye, it's not funny if someone loses an eye”, Sean says in his usual, funny way. Lost in Space starts. The Chapel is a beautiful venue. An old chapel obviously, the ridge is high, it's a big airy space, it looks great and it feels good to be there too.
There's a bar at the entrance, a restaurant connected to it, then at eight they open the doors to the venue, we go in and place ourselves in the front. The psychedelic backdrop is spreading beautiful colours all around. “Nixon's in a coma, and I hope it's gonna last.” It's fun to hear Dean sing again, “good things are coming, ahh, ahh”. The song is called Rhythm King because of the drum machine that was used on the recording. “Good Things Are Coming”, Dean says it could be called instead, “you know that song, “Good Things Are Coming'”.
Kalamazoo is such a wonderful song. Steve from Melbourne said it's his favourite Luna song and since he said that, I started to take notice of it a lot more. Sometimes you need that kick. “That one should be titled Green Green Bottles”, Dean says. Sean asks about the title. “You know the Glenn Miller song? Glenn Miller. “I got a gal in Kalamazoo.' No it's not that.” It's a too long and too boring story he says and we might not never get to know. Doesn't really matter, I think. I'll go with the Glenn Miller story.
Hedgehog is next is and I love hearing it again, it's a mystery they didn't play it more often, it might not be their most significant or best song, but it's just perfect in a live set. Dean is singing it great too, and it just has to be fun to play, for all of them.
We found the perfect place to meet up before the shows, Brasserie Saint-James across the street from the venue. Big enough for all of us and relaxed, good selection of drinks and food, Giselle even found a Canadian speciality on the menu, poutine. It's French fries topped with cheese and brown gravy. Quite heavy, but not bad. They had light lagers for Mike, in house brewed IPA for Frank, tart ginger cocktails for Ulrika, crisp white wine for Marjorie, soda water for Giselle and bourbon for me. Friendly staff that greeted us welcome back each day. Too bad it was only three days, could have repeated these days for a lot longer. A lot longer.
To Bonnie and Clyde the drunk girls in front of me are having fun, waving their hands in the air. Everybody is moving, dancing, sometimes it's nice to not be in the front because you get to see all the people and their reactions.
Halfway in of Freakin' and Peakin' the audience goes louder as Lee starts playing faster and faster and harder and harder, and the two chords just goes back and forth. Some day I'm gonna film it and get a good video of it, I would watch it all the time, it would be a constant highlight. To Bonnie and Clyde the drunk girls in front of me are having fun, waving their hands in the air. Everybody is moving, dancing, sometimes it's nice to not be in the front because you get to see all the people and their reactions. It's mostly good reactions.
“It's nice to be here on this… on this dark day”, Dean says when they come back on stage, people cheer, and he continues, “we've been on stage on worse evenings”. It gets quiet. “Maybe once.” He is definitely not happy about what's happened, few are, the protests are massive, and in San Francisco too. There's the Women's March and the Golden Gate march, so they are not actual protests at all, just people reacting, doing something.
“When I look out my window, so many different people to be. It's strange, so strange. You got to pick every stitch.” The Donovan original was released on his album Sunshine Superman in 1966. He went from soft acoustic folk music to psychedelic, and Jimmy Page is actually playing the guitar on the song. Dean is articulating clear and he is loud, it's the most touching vocals so far. “You got to pick every stitch, two rabbits running in the ditch, oh no, must be the season of the witch.” He is singing great. And it sounds great.
Outdoor Miner is a fantastic little song by Wire. Dean asks Sean, “you know what the song is about?”. And they are conversing about the lyrics, the inchworm. It's a serpentine leaf miner, which eats the chlorophyll in holly leaves. And the chorus is just a joy to hear, and read. “He lies on his side is he trying to hide? In fact it's the earth which he's known since birth.” There's actually a whole album of covers of this song, 19, but Luna is not on it. Wire played before Luna in Bognor Regis last year and it was nice to see the two bands meet and talk when they rigged. “He lies on his side is he trying to hide?”.
There are some Luna videos, and my favourite is Bobby Peru. I love the song and the video is great too. Sean is bumping into this redheaded girl on the street. She steals his wallet. Sean is funny. Dean is wearing a white shirt and black tie, very good looking. The redheaded girl changes wig to black, and dances with Lee. Justin is the police. Who is that girl? “I know what's the matter, so why can't I fix it. Forgive me please.” It's a sad song, but it's warm, it's one of their best. I stood quite far away from Ulrika, but during this song we looked at each other. It's nice to see her when she's feeling this good, when she's watching Luna, surrounded by people she likes very much.
“What did you do today Sean?” Dean asks the usual question. It's again like we are invited to their living room, or more like a podcast with the two of them talking, making fun of each other, or rather Dean making fun of Sean. But in a nice way. “I had a delicious brunch, and I was actually at the de Young Museum this afternoon”, Sean says. They are playing Time to Quit and it's loud, people are enjoying this song very much, dancing, having fun. A great way to end the show.
We stayed after the show again and got backstage and Alan and his friend Gary was there too. And Allison and Bill of course. There was a bottle of white wine on the table in the corner, unopened, and Allison opened it, I just couldn't, a nice bottle of Chardonnay. It was corked, but not overly so, it was drinkable. Me and Ulrika went on a Sonoma and Napa wine trip a few days before the shows, we went to some nice wineries, it was a fun trip. Beautiful surroundings, and green, very green, the green hilly landscapes really brings new life to your soul. And some of those Pinot's didn't exactly make it worse, I can put my nose in one of those glasses of good wine and just let my mind wander off.
Greg arrived just in time for the show, his flight was delayed, and we spent much time with him after the show. I took a few dance steps with Kelly by the bar, she has the groove, and Ulrika talked with Greg. That guy really is irresistible. I wonder what would happen if he and the trumpet player would get together. The world would explode. They closed the bar but we got up to the balcony at the top of the The Chapel instead and stayed even longer. It was Penthouse after all.