There are nights that define your life and I imagine that when you die, when the film of your life passes before your eyes, there will be skillfully edited highlights from these times and you may be leaving your body and going into the light but you’ll be pleasantly entertained during your journey, like an in flight movie starring you and the best of you (gratuitous Foo Fighters reference – and my fave FF song).
I came an hour early to Disney hall to watch Bob Mould and Dave Grohl rehearse, mostly to see the guys with their guitars. I sat almost alone in the Frank Gehry designed fantasia of a concert hall, and watched these magnificent gentlemen of alternative rock pace across the stage, fabulously rare and expensive and famous instruments slung low as they could go on their straps, seamlessly leaping from song to song, filling the air with the buzz of guitars and then Dave’s drumming. I felt like a princess and I felt like a pitchfork.com contest winner and the backstage sticker proclaiming me an ‘artist’ burned a hole in the back pocket of my leather jeans. It felt odd to have rocked so hard, played so fast that it was blistering my skin while I sunk low into the plush seats of the auditorium. There’s no pit in the orchestra pit for the LA Philharmonic, or rather, they sit in the pit. I unlawfully sat on top of the back of my seat because I could not be contained by its contours and comfort. Bob and Dave blasted through so many beloved songs, whizzing by so fast you could barely believe it, and the boom and glow of the orange amps was like a citrusy, audio/visual potpourri and the anticipation in the air of the night to honor Bob, truly the most important figure in indie rock, and so influential to so many, especially all who had gathered to honor him, was so palpable I could taste it and hear it and feel it.
I moved down to the front row and took many blurry Hipstamatic photos of Britt Daniels, of one of the best bands ever, Spoon. I love Spoon to the point of an almost religious fanaticism. The minimalism of their sound, combined with the maximalism (I know that is not a word but I will make it one as I love Spoon so much) of Britt’s emotive vocals and tight, brilliantly architectural songwriting makes each and every one of Spoon’s songs an entire universe in just under three minutes. I have to say my favorite might be “Japanese Cigarette Case”, which might make me take up smoking so I could have one. I fucking love Spoon.
I hung out a bit with Craig Finn and Tad Kubler of The Hold Steady, whose thunderous rendition of “a good idea” floored me. It is one of my personal favorite songs that never gets a skip on the itunes shuffle, that must always be listened to when it is served up by my little digital constant companion, maybe even two or three times in a row. Craig sings like a man possessed, and I loved watching him from the side of the stage, because I could tell that these were songs that he had been singing for years, just like me. These songs of Bobs are in our blood. They are imprinted in our DNA, my cells coursing through my body with tiny chain formations of A Good Idea and Changes. Craig sang them from a well of deep dark depth and longing that I know intimately, and these songs are not just songs, not just a collection of notes and impressive guitar flourishes, rather they are the musical structures that build the bridges between you and me making us – US. Talking ‘bout my generation. Craig and Tad also told me that they have a tattoo gun on their tour bus, and that they routinely tattoo each other on the road. I must get one of these tattoos.
No Age were adorable and young and bounced all over the stage alongside Bob and it was awesome to see these kids who seemingly were born around the time that Copper Blue was released playing with the Man Himself. What I loved about all the artists were that they were a tiny microcosm of what happens and who happens in music today, and that’s a lovely thing to see. Now we are in the days where we learn about songs from itunes Genius, but when a show like this is lovingly curated by an artist like Bob Mould, the genius is human, as it should have been in the first place.
Ryan Adams’ guitar tech came out with a Buck Owens guitar, with the double pickguard, something that wouldn’t be out of place at The Country Music Hall of Fame or in the hands of Jack White in the fantastic documentary “this might get loud” and I coveted the thing to the point where the tips of my fingers were burning to touch the fretboard, but Ryan didn’t end up playing it during the show, opting for a beautifully voluptuous dreadnought with rasta colors across the front. Ryan Adams has a sonorous, soulful, classic country crooner voice, and the effort from his heart I can hear in some notes makes me think and feel “I love him” – such is the power of a great singer – and Bob’s songs sounded glorious and warm and heartbreaking coming from him. Heartbreak a stranger indeed. This was just Ryan alone on the stage, which I always love, which is fairly rare for me to witness, as I have only seen him live with The Cardinals, his killer, cracking backing band and have only been treated to the bare bones versions of Come Pick Me Up he does when he tours with them to fuel my acoustic, unplugged fire. Ryan Adams is a wonder and a marvel and the urgency and wear and honesty in his voice absolutely sends me. I asked him backstage if he remembered the painting he gave me, made of supermarket stickers on a dry erase board. He laughed and said, “Yes I remember that very well….” We laughed and I got really super nervous and starstruck and had to go into my dressing room I was sharing with Grant-lee.
Grant and I had dinner with Matt Pinfield, and Matt and I were talking so hard about the Afghan Whigs and Greg Dulli that I actually broke into a sweat and I continued sweating until I performed “Your Favorite Thing” with Grant and Jon and Jason and then later joined everyone on stage for “See a little Light”. Of course I took liberties and sang way more than the chorus, but Bob loved it. But i will tell you the best part – just after the jangly, eternally optimistic opening riff of the song and before the start of the first verse, bob turned and looked at me with a gentle kind of gratitude, and I’ve never seen this intensely handsome man look more handsome, and he moved toward me and kissed my cheek and smiled and smiled and then stepped to the mike and began the song, and I stood there just kissed and it was the best rock and roll kiss of all time and my heart leapt and my spirit rose and it was a TIME STANDS STILL moment that will be the climax of the film that passes before my eyes at my death.