Ten years ago today, our swing state tour arrives in Cleveland, growing larger with every show. Tonight is Doug McCombs‘s first appearance with the combo, and William Tyler‘s second. We acknowledge the end of Yom Kippur by opening with “Hungry,” and before we’re done, we’ve been joined by Will Rigby, Victor Halm, and the showstopping Hazel Rigby. Quite a memory, but not THE memory of the day, which has to be the Matador 10th anniversary show at Irving Plaza in 1999. The Other Dimensions horns join us for the beginning and end of our set, and in the middle we play “Cherry Chapstick” for the first time, all a mere amuse-bouche for the encore, for which we’ve worked up “Everything Flows” and “Slack Motherfucker” by Matador emeriti Teenage Fanclub and Superchunk. When the Blues Explosion has to cancel their appearance, we invite Jon Spencer to sing “Slack Motherfucker.” No rehearsal needed–we’ve learned our part, he’s a showbiz pro, what could go wrong? Some time earlier that day, Jon contacts me and asks if we’d mind if he brought a stripper on stage. I tell him something to the effect of he’s the front man, he should listen to his heart, and I can’t say for sure that I warned either James or Georgia what Jon’s heart was suggesting he do. Cut to showtime, we start “Slack Motherfucker,” Jon slides onto the stage in a snazzy suit with a price tag attached to the jacket and starts singing many of the song’s original lyrics. We reach the solo, and he instructs us to bring it down. We bring it down. Jon commences a tribute of sorts to Matador, though he points out that they’ve had some help along the way from Atlantic and Capitol Records. And in fact, he has big news: Matador has signed a deal with Epitaph Records. Onto the stage comes Brett Gurewitz, who bares an uncanny resemblance to Jon’s friend Rob Kennedy of the Workdogs. We continue vamping. At Jon’s insistence, Gerard and Chris make an appearance, and “Brett” fires Gerard. I’m sure Gerard can’t get off stage fast enough, and Chris is close behind, but Jon stops him. I don’t remember exactly how we get to the next part, but soon Chris has been seated center stage and there’s a woman giving him a lap dance. (If this sounds kind of funny and very creepy, then I’m describing it well.) When the lapdancer executes a particularly impressive flip, her legs ending up in the air, Chris seizes his opportunity to escape. He stands up, lifting her with him, and walks off. Jon says goodnight and starts to leave, but now it’s our turn to stop him–he’s still got the final chorus to sing.
In what I can promise is the most inapt segue of this year of reminiscences, we conclude with an email from Steve, sent from somewhere in the UK. After the preceding tale, I’m printing Steve’s message verbatim–an extra “u” and some British punctuation perhaps being just the thing to class up this post.
Well, what are the chances? Your swinging beat combo is a shared joy for my wife, sophie, and me. During our courtship, we saw you very live in Manchester (7 Nov ’09) on the popular songs tour, way back then. By closer, ‘You can have it all’, we were jointly as smitten with you as we were with each other (aw), so we made the decision to have a YLT song for our first dance.
Being a bit soppy, we decided on ‘Tears are in your eyes’. And then nothing… is my favourite album, from going way on back to my university days (woo Manchester), and Sophie loves a ditty sung by Georgia, and the words are like mega lovely aren’t they – for an indie couple I mean?
So there you go. First dance, 25 September 2010. Tears are in your eyes, the Black Horse, Amberley, Stroud, England.
Keep on freewheelin’,