For reasons surpassing understanding, awesome things seem to happen whenever vert
and I are in the same place at the same time. Last night, for example, was the Pipettes show. I'd been looking forward to this for weeks, but of course had somehow managed to forget about it completely until vert
IMed me to make plans for meeting up. So okay, fine, not how I'd planned on spending my Tuesday night and I was dressed a wee bit business casual for a sold-out poptacular dance party, but whatevs. We met up after work and proceeded to a diner I'd passed on the walk from midtown to Union Square (pre- or post-show diner food rapidly becoming a vert
-and-Melanie tradition). One glance at the menu told us that magic was in the freakin' air. With food names like "Hunka-Hunka Burnin' Pancakes," "Hummus of the Gods," and "Rappers Delight 2 the Hip Hop, It Don't Stop" (yes, really), how could we go wrong? The ancient Trivial Pursuit cards on the table and adorable oh-so-Southern waitress, not to mention the delicious heart-attack-on-a-plate food itself, only added to the awesome. Carb comas accomplished, we wandered toward the meatpacking district for a night of pop music heaven.
Okay, so first of all, immediately upon our arrival something happened that never
happens to me: even though doors were at 7 and we didn't get there until 8:15, the place was deserted enough that we snagged a prime spot right up against the stage. I'm tall enough that normally I'd feel guilty about standing right up front even if the opportunity presented itself, but fuck it. Later on, the people standing immediately behind us proved to be drunken jackasses, so I really
didn't feel bad about blocking their view. So anyway, we plopped on the floor and vert
entertained me with some truly impressive card tricks while we waited for the first of two opening bands to come on.
And here's where the magic (card tricks notwithstanding) really started to happen: both opening bands were good
. Not just good, but fantastic
. Marit Bergman's a Swedish/Norwegian folksinger who looks like Maggie Gyllenhaal and sings like an angel. One of her backup singers, incidentally, looks eerily like one of the bigshot editors here at work. Anyway, she sings these really pretty, catchy, acoustic songs that sound sort of sweet and wistful until you realize they're about things like a Swedish girl getting raped by three hockey players and gay sex on Chelsea Pier. She was also really nervous in that charming, rambling stories kind of way, which with her accent was just about the most adorable thing ever.
...the most adorable thing ever, that is, until the next
opening band, Smoosh. These guys were like, I don't even know, the pre-teen Sleater-Kinney? I guess technically they're actually teenagers--the keyboardist/lead vocalist is fifteen, and her sister, the drummer (she also does some vocals, which according to vert
is really hard), is thirteen--but they released their first album at age twelve and ten, respectively. Now, the keyboardist was awesome enough, playing songs she writes herself, tapping her foot to the beat so enthusiastically that she actually lost a shoe
toward the end of the set, with a little smirk on her face that told me without a doubt that she is a nightmare
in school. The drummer, however, was flat-out amazing
, not just for a thirteen-year-old but for anyone
. Her face was mostly hidden behind one of her cymbals as she headbanged and sang and beat the shit out of her drum kit, and she was flailing around so violently that I thought she must be one of those angry drummers, taking out her excess aggression with her sticks... and then, for just a second toward the end of the set, I caught a glimpse of the most blissed-out, thrilled-to-be-alive grin on her face, and I realized that she was having the time of her life
up there. She totally wiped the mat with Rachel Trachtenburg's bored tapping, I tell you what, and we're not even bringing Meg White into the conversation. Oh yeah, and let's not forget the youngest
sister, who came on stage to play bass for a few songs. She's ten and her hands are so small she could barely reach the bottom string. I don't think I've ever seen an audience respond that enthusiastically to an opening band.
After that, the Pipettes themselves were almost an anticlimax, which was impressive because they were even more sassy and British and polka-dotted than I expected them to be. Everyone danced as much as we could, given the space constraints (I know New York audiences have a reputation for being jaded and undemonstrative, but it occurred to me last night that part of the reason for that is that sold-out shows here pack everyone together so tightly that it's often impossible to do anything more movement-intensive than nodding along to the beat). They did all my favorite songs and a bunch of new stuff I'd never heard before--Pull Shapes, the pre-encore finale, was just as great live as I'd hoped--and looked like they were having a blast doing it. If their performance had been all I'd seen last night I would've considered the outing a rousing success, but they simply could not compete with a thirteen-year-old girl in mismatched socks putting [insert famous drummer here] to shame.
Afterward, I limped to the subway (the only downside to the night being a mysterious ankle injury acquired somewhere between midtown and Union Square, which will teach me to wear flip-flops for walks of more than, say, 20 blocks), free poster in hand, convinced that vert
and I need to hang out as much as possible from now on.