Saturday, November 4, 2017

Show #161 September 2, 2017

Today is all about Matilda!

Matilda- Suzy and Los Quattro Faster and Louder! 
Tomorrow Belongs To You- Gary Valentine s/t
When I Stumble- Honeychain Crushed 
Psychology Today- Aunt Helen Nephews Were Never Like This 
The Rest Of My Life- Cheap Trick We're All Alright! 
*Tomorrow- The Well Wishers Comes And Goes 
*Tomorrow- The Three O'Clock Sixteen Tambourines 
*Tomorrow- Radio City Class of '77 
^Tomorrow Night- Atomic Rooster Tomorrow Night 
Tomorrow Night- Shoes Present Tense
Tomorrow Night- The Go Instant Reaction 
Trick- Matthew Sweet Tomorrow Forever 
Back For Good- Kurt Baker Play It Cool 
So Easy- The Wellingtons End Of The Summer 
*Tomorrow- The Cardigans Life 
*Tomorrow- Kiss Unmasked 
*Tomorrow- Morrissey Tomorrow 
This Is The World Of The Theater- The New Pornographers Whiteout Conditions 
Don't Take Your Baby Downtown- Redd Kross Hot Issue 
My Date- The Aristocrats s/t
*Maybe Tomorrow- Goldenhorse Maybe Tomorrow 
*Maybe Tomorrow- The Iveys The Very Best of Badfinger 
*Maybe Tomorrow- The Chords This Is What They Want
>Tomorrow- Strawberry Alarm Clock Wake Up...It's Tomorrow 
Tomorrow- Research Turtles Research Turtles 
Tomorrow- James Tomorrow 
Never Wanted To Know- Bash and Pop Anything Could Happen 
Without My Sight- Zeitgeist Translate Slowly 
No Tomorrow- The Dictators Blood Brothers 
Here Today, Gone Tomorrow- The Ramones Rocket To Russia

^Power Pop Peak:  #11 6/2/1971 UK Singles Chart

*SacroSet[s]:  Tomorrow Songs

>Power Pop Prototype:  1968

I haven't read him in a while, but over the years I've grown to appreciate the genius of Chuck Palahniuk.  He has a fearless, twisted way of looking at the world that I really enjoy- even as it sometimes turns my stomach.  I was thinking about Chuck as I put this show together, specifically one of my favorite quotes from Invisible Monsters:

When did the future switch from being a promise to being a threat?

I used this quote as the basis of a speech I gave at my son's 8th grade graduation back in 2010, which is included in the blog post for Show #35I have no doubt that Scottish band We Were Promised Jet Packs share the sentiment.  (While I don't care much for their music, I give their name an A+.)  At some point in my lifetime the future went from being a dream to a nightmare.  It's common in some circles to blame everything on the media these days, yet I've always thought of the media as mirror of our society rather than some Pied Piper gleefully leading us to our doom.  

It's interesting how few of the "Tomorrow" songs I played tonight are genuinely hopeful about the future.  Songs like "Tomorrow" by The Three O'Clock are ambivalent:

Remember a time when you were near
And things were clear
But will you be tomorrow?
Remember a sound that you knew once
Oh and I knew once
But will you be tomorrow?

Then there's "Maybe Tomorrow" by The Iveys, a precursor to Badfinger:
Maybe tomorrow, I will love again
I'll never know until I've looked into her eyes
Maybe tomorrow, I will love again
I'll never know until I've seen her once or twice

Even reliably catchy Swedes The Cardigans' song "Tomorrow" has a wistful quality:

Tomorrow, she won't feel half of this
Tomorrow morning is a sugar kiss
Tomorrow, heavenly no sorrow
she will lose gravity

No surprise, reliably mopey Morrissey's "Tomorrow" is a total downer:
Will it really come?
And if it does come
Will I still be human?
All I ask of you is one thing that you never do 

Boob Bird is the word!
And there is something unseemly going on in this week's Power Pop Prototype, Atomic Rooster's "Tomorrow Night:" 

When I wake up in your bed,
I can still hear what you said.
Like a bad dream I can't fight,
Tomorrow Night.

Am I lying here next to you?
Am I thinking I need to
Really love you? Do it right,
Tomorrow Night.

(One of the cool things about the features on ALL KINDSA GIRLS is they get me listening to bands I would never hear otherwise- case in point, early 70's British prog-rock group Atomic Rooster.  Check out that picture sleeve!)

On the grim but optimistic front there is tonight's Power Pop Prototype, "Tomorrow" by Strawberry Alarm Clock:


Things won't be the same
Life would be a different game
But right now I am with you, and
Together we can make it through

(I have no idea what's going on with the tequila bottle on the single's picture sleeve, but the cover of the Wake Up...It's Tomorrow album at the top of this post has become a new favorite!)

James' "Tomorrow" espouses a similar optimism:
Now your grip's too strong
Can't catch love with a net or a gun
Gotta keep faith that your path will change
Gotta keep faith that your love will change tomorrow
I'm just out of your range Tomorrow
All your suffering's in vain Tomorrow

Even better is the sentiment expressed in the Goldenhorse song "Maybe Tomorrow:"

All of your sorrow
Maybe tomorrow
Will fade away in the air

Leave it to Paul Stanley to give us a 100% positive take on "Tomorrow."  This is from the album Unmasked, which I ignored when it was released in 1980 but thanks to this song I'm going to give another listen:
I didn't know just what to do, I couldn't seem to take my eyes off you
You know I wanted just to take you home, but that's not your style
And tomorrow, we're gonna fall in love, fall in love
Tomorrow, we're going to fall in love, fall in love, tomorrow, tomorrow

Now that's more like it!  Here's wishing you all a Paul Stanley tomorrow.

Click the link below to stream this show or to download, right click and "Save Link As:"

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Show #160 July 1, 2017

This Summer Show goes out to Christine Sixteen!

Christine Sixteen- Kiss Love Gun 
Sixteen Again- Buzzcocks Love Bites
Like A Fly- Cheap Trick We're All Alright! 
Neither Here Nor There- Sloan Alternates 
Hurt By Love- Chris Spedding The Very Best Of Chris Spedding 
Nobody Knows- Matthew Sweet Tomorrow Forever 
I'll Never Stop- Protex Strange Obsessions 
If I Were The One- The Outlets I Remember 
^You're Sixteen- Ringo Starr You're Sixteen 
16 Forever- The Dictators Every Day Is Saturday 
Stay Sixteen- The Proof It's Safe 
One Last Night- Bullet Proof Lovers Shot Through The Heart 
Follow Me- Artful Dodger s/t 7" 
Afraid to Fall- The Bobbies Supersongs 
*Sixteen- The Indelicates Sixteen 
*Sixteen- Iggy Pop Lust for Life 
*Sixteen- The Flaws Sixteen - Single 
Mermaid- Dollyrots Whiplash Splash 
She Made A Fool Of You- Moon Martin Escape From Domination 
You Have The Advantage Of Me For I Do Not Know Your Name- The Upper Crust Delusions Of Grandeur 
Sixteen's Gone- Barely Pink Last Day of Summer 
The Sixteens- The Sweet The Collection 
16 Down- Flys Flys Own 
Don't Turn This Good Heart Bad- Biters The Future Ain't What It Used to Be 
Running Start- Shoes Black Vinyl Shoes 
>Sweet Little Sixteen- Chuck Berry The Anthology 
Sweet 16- Green Day ¡Uno! 
Sweet Sixteen- Think About Life Sweet Sixteen 
Sixteen Blue- The Replacements Let It Be

^Power Pop Prototype:  #1 Billboard Hot 100 1/26/74

*SacroSet:  Sixteen Songs

>Power Pop Prototype:  1958

Summer gets me thinking about the past and that inspired tonight's show of "16" songs.  While "Christine Sixteen" would seem like the PERFECT dedication, my feelings about the song have changed considerably over the years.  Gene Simmons was 28 in 1977 when he wrote "Christine Sixteen" (cribbing the title from Paul Stanley) and I was 13 when I heard it for the first time.  I didn't bat an eye about the lyrics back then but now they really skeeve me out, starting with the first verse:

Gene in 1977
She's got me dizzy, she sees me through to the end
She's got me in her hands and there's no use in pretending

If that's not bad enough there's the spoken word mid-section:

I don't usually say things like this to girls your age
But when I saw you coming out of the school that day
That day I knew, I knew
I've got to have you, I've got to have you

Then he brings it home with:

She's been around, but she's young and clean

Wow.  There's nothing like having a daughter to make you think twice about things like "Christine Sixteen"
Gene Today
and I'm sure my fellow Kiss fan fathers know what I'm talking about- at least I hope to God they do.  We're all getting older so it's not really fair, but the "young and clean" line elicits an even bigger "ewwww" when I think about what Gene Simmons looks like today.  That said, you gotta give the guy points for consistency. 

To be fair, quite a few tonight's songs have a lecherous component, like Iggy's "Sixteen:"

I give you my body and soul
sweet 16

I must be hungry 'cause I go crazy
Over your leather boots

He at least acknowledges something is wrong in the final verse:

Now baby I know 
That's not normal
But I love you,
I love you
I love you, sweet 16

HA!  You know you're way over the line when Iggy Pop says "that's not normal."

Even human Teddy bear Ringo Starr's selection from tonight, "You're Sixteen" has some cringe inducing lines:

You come on like a dream, peaches and cream
Lips like strawberry wine
You're sixteen, you're beautiful and you're mine 

and who could forget

You're my baby, you're my pet
We fell in love on the night we met
You touched my hand, my heart went pop
Ooh, when we kissed I could not stop

"I could not stop" WTF?!?  And those lyrics were written in 1960 when Johnny Burnette had a hit with the song.

To be fair, it's virtually impossible to separate sex from rock and roll.  At first glance tonight's Power Pop Prototype, the recently departed Chuck Berry's 1958 classic "Sweet Little Sixteen," seems to be about a chaste passion for rock and roll rather than sex with older dudes.  Berry wrote the song while on a package tour and noticed a teenage girl backstage who was insistent about getting every headliner's autograph. Berry said: "She couldn't have seen one act on the show - unless it was mine!"

Sweet Little Sixteen
She's just got to have
About a half a million
Famed autographs
Her wallet filled with pictures
She gets them one by one
Becomes so excited
Watch her, look at her run 

The song takes a turn in the last verse, however

Sweet Little Sixteen
She's got the grown-up blues
Tight dresses and lipstick
She's sportin' high heel shoes
Oh, but tomorrow morning
She'll have to change her trend
And be sweet sixteen
And back in class again

I can't help thinking about the link between the implied sex with Berry's young autograph-seeker and the actual sex involved in Cynthia Plaster Caster's work which is just a different kind of "collecting."


Not surprisingly, the punk bands have a more rebellious take on on the subject, like Buzzcocks "Sixteen Again" from their second album Love Bites:

Look at me here I am for your eyes
Mirrored proof of love's suicide
I know I never will feel quite like you
And I know you won't treat me right till I do
But at least we'll know it's true
That we're sixteen again
Oh no

And you have to love The Dictator's "16 Forever:"

I don't care if I have no financial plan
I'll never be a man, I'll be just what I am

16 forever don't you try and complicate my life
16 forever a vow I made one brokenhearted night 

The newer groups are keeping it real with the theme, like Montreal's Think About Life and their song "Sweet Sixteen:"

Sweet Sixteen and you’re on your own
And your family family kick you out of the house
Working part-time at diners, saving money for college
At least you’re passing with B's, so it’s no real tragedy

And Irish band The Flaws dial up the angst in their "Sixteen:"

Even as a boy of 16
I had this recurring kind of dream
where every night I'd feel the same pain
It happens every time I'm alone
My eyes feel dead like stone
and every night I feel the same pain

Yeesh.  The Indelicates have a more lighthearted take in their "Sixteen:"

Oh oh and we'll write funny songs about
Boys and Girls and other Boys and other Girls
This heartbreaking world where no one understands
Oh oh It'll be so funny
Oh oh it'll be so funny

This scene is the scene to be seen in
Not that the scene is what we'd be seen with
We just wanna be 16 (16) 16 (16)
Even though we're 23

For sheer rock and roll mythology though, you can't beat The Sweet's "The Sixteens:"

Where were you in '68
In '68 Julie was Johnnie's date
Two kids growin' together
Livin' each day as if time was slippin' away
Oh, they were just sixteen
And their love a teenage dream
They passed the time, they crossed the line
The line that ran between
Julie and Johnnie now you've made it

But life goes on, you know it ain't easy
You've just gotta be strong
If you're one of the sixteens
And life goes on, you know, you know it ain't easy
You know you'll never go wrong
'Cause you're all part of the sixteens

One of the first songs I thought of when putting this show together was The Replacements' "Sixteen Blue," from Let It Be.  Once again Paul Westerberg nails it- a fitting end to the show and this blog post.

Drive yourself right up the wall
No one hears and no one calls
It's a boring state
It's a useless wait, I know

Brag about things you don't understand
A girl and a woman, a boy and a man
Everything is sexually vague
Now you're wondering to yourself

If you might be gay

Your age is the hardest age
Everything drags and drags
One day, baby, maybe help you through

Drive your ma to the bank
Tell your pa you got a date
You're lying, now you're lying on your back

Try to figure out, they wonder what next you'll
You don't understand anything sexual

I don't understand
Tell my friends I'm doing fine

Your age is the hardest age
Everything drags and drags
You're looking funny
You ain't laughing, are you?
Sixteen blue

Your age is the hardest age
Everything drags and drags
You're looking funny
You ain't laughing, are you?
Sixteen blue
Sixteen blue
Sixteen blue
Sixteen blue
Sixteen blue
Sixteen blue
You're mine, if you want to

Click the link below to stream the show or to download, right click and "Save Link As:"

Monday, July 10, 2017

Show #159 May 27, 2017

This one's for Corinna and Gig Buddy's everywhere!

Corinna- Mimi Betinis Music Sounds 
Best Friends- The Outlets Outlets 7" 
Flagrante Delicto- The Upper Crust Delusions Of Grandeur 
We Don't Mind The Rave- The Flys Waikki Beach Refugees 
Frantic Romantic- Scientists Frantic Romantic 
Comes Around- The Well Wishers Comes And Goes 
Chart Buster- De Cylinders We Must Pay 7'' 
Please Stay- Paul Collins' Beat To Beat Or Not To Beat/Long Time Gone 
^Best Friend- Foster The People Best Friend 
*Best Friend- English Beat Keep the Beat - Very Best of 
*Best Friend- The Gangsters The Gangsters 
Start Again- Suzy and Los Quattro Faster and Louder! 
Takeaway Love- The Resistors e.p. for Jeanie
What Am I Doing Hangin' 'Round?- The Monkees  Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd. 
*My Best Friend- Weezer Make Believe 
*My Best Friend- Milkshake Play! 
*My Best Friend- Nixon's Head Traps, Buckshot and Pelt 
No Way This Could Fail- The Wellingtons End Of The Summer 
When Donna Romances- The Scruffs When Donna Romances 
Lucy Potato- Teenage Head Teenage Head 
>My Best Friend- Jefferson Airplane Surrealistic Pillow 
*Best Friend- The Krinkles 3 - The Mordorlorff Collection 
*Best Friend- Fastball Step Into Light 
Colosseums- The New Pornographers Whiteout Conditions 
Blue Thing- DM3 West Of Anywhere 
Teenage News- The Connection Just For Fun 
*Best Friend- The Drums Best Friend 
*Best Friend- Legendary Wings Do You See 
*My Best Friend's Hot- The Dollyrots Because I'm Awesome 
*Best Friend- Dandy Warhols Dandys Rule OK 
He's Frank- The Monochrome Set The Independent Singles Collection 
He's My Best Friend- Jellyfish Spilt Milk

^Power Pop Peak:  #14 US Alt Chart  3/10/14

*SacroSet:  Best Friend Songs

>Power Pop Prototype:  1967

The Upper Crust

I don't go to many rock shows these days because a) there aren't that many bands I want to see and b) those I do aren't popular enough to score a Friday or Saturday so, along with the 100 mile round trip to San Francisco, it makes for a late weeknight.  That said, there was NO WAY I was going to miss The Upper Crust's recent show at Bottom of The Hill.  

Titanics, Nat and Dave on right
After I left Boston in 1992, Nat Freedberg must have gotten pretty bored with his band The Titanics because he and guitarist Dave Fredette formed not one, not two but THREE joke band offshoots.  In The Satanics Freedberg was "Devlin Carnate," I'm not sure what his name was in surf-rock group The Clamdiggers but in The Upper Crust  he was, and continues to be, Lord Bendover.  The concept is brilliant:  18th Century French fops in make up, wigs and period attire singing songs about being rich.  The other members of The Upper Crust were in Mente and Seks Bomba with drummer Jim Janota
The Bags, Jim Janota center
coming from one of my all time favorite Boston bands:  The Bags. 
Ted Widmer (Lord Rockingham) is a Harvard guy who left the band to take a job as a speechwriter for Bill Clinton and now works at the Library of Congress.

Twenty-two years later all the aforementioned bands are long gone, save for The Upper Crust who recently released their sixth album Delusions Of Grandeur. Back in the 90's I missed my chance to see the band play at the Covered Wagon Saloon in SF so I was very excited to hear they were coming back in May 2017.  

I called up my best friend Frank and he was game- we have gone to many shows together over the years.  I've known Frank since high school, here's a picture of us from back then.  We weren't a band yet but that didn't stop us from having photo sessions- there's no denying we had "a look."
Ted, Jim, Frank, Rick

When we moved to Boston after high school (me to go to Emerson, Frank to Northeastern) we had a band with our friends Pete and Jim called No Idea that played all the Boston clubs.
Rick, Frank, Pete, Jim

Frank was my best man when Jaime and I got married on March 14, 1992.
Lance, Rich, Paul, Frank, Rick, Jaime, Mary Beth, Jenny, Sarah, Sue
In 1993 Jaime and I moved to San Francisco and Frank came out a few months later.   When he married Joanna on June 6, 2004 I was in their wedding party

Frank's brother Greg was best man but didn't want to do the toast.  I was proud to do the honor myself- though I would've appreciated more than five minutes notice.

In the late 90's I wrote a song called "The Warm Up Band Sucks" about a less than stellar experience I had waiting to see The Plimsouls at Bottom of The Hill.  I got there early that night because I thought the club would be packed.  It wasn't, and I was subjected to not one but two terrible support acts.  On the plus side, The Plimsouls were AWESOME, featuring none other than Clem Burke on drums!
Plimsouls with Clem Burke circa 1997
Despite my aforementioned "Warm Up Band Sucks" episode, repeated numerous times since then, I remain ever hopeful that support acts won't punish my punctuality.  This night I once again cajoled Frank into arriving at Bottom of The Hill early and once again we were... let's just say the pump was primed for The Upper Crust who blew everyone else off the stage.  The band was resplendent both aurally and visually.
The Upper Crust 5/25/17

Even after a 20 year build up, The Upper Crust exceeded my expectations.  Frank was similarly taken- the songs, the look, the stage banter- they were on fire!  It is difficult to describe, the band was very tight yet also seemed to be careening out of control at times especially during Duc D'istortion's sublime solos.
The Duc Lets Loose!

We Are NOT
I especially appreciated relative newcomer Count Bassie, who joined the group in '96. His disgust at the rabble in the audience was apparent in his ever present sneer.  Yet thoughts of the guillotine are banished in your shock at hearing such a beautiful falsetto- clear and pitch perfect- emanating from such a debauched reprobate.  If you don't believe me, check out this live version of "Little Castrato" recorded last year in New Jersey.  Count Bassie also gets credit for the salute that adorns the Delusions of Grandeur album cover and which many of us in the crowd could not help but raise throughout the performance.  And I would be remiss were I not to mention the great Jackie Kickassis anchoring the rhythm section on, as the French say, "le batterie." 

I Want To Be
Jackie Kickassis

As a long time rock show attendee, I pride myself on being able to always spot band wives/girlfriends in the crowd, though at an Upper Crust show it is admittedly not that difficult.  You do not want to get caught standing behind these ladies!
The Crustettes

So it was a great night of rock and roll, made better by the fact that I was able to spend it with my best friend- Thanks Frank!

Click the link below to stream this week's show or to download, right click and "Save Link As:"

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Show #158 March 11, 2017

For Valerie!

Valerie- Greg Kihn Greg Kihn Band RocKihnRoll
We All Make Mistakes- The Sweat No More Running 
Guns N' Roses Saved My Life- The Genuine Fakes s/t
First Rate- The Proof It's Safe 
Loverboy- Bonnie Hayes With The Wild Combo Good Clean Fun 
On The Rocks- Bash and Pop Anything Could Happen 
Proto-pretty- Wondermints Proto-Pretty 7" 
Waters Raging- Cotton Mather Death Of The Cool 
^It's A Mistake- Men At Work It's A Mistake 
Don't Mistake Love- Radio City Class of '77 
Everyday I Make Another Mistake- Fast Cars Coming, Ready or Not!
Mary's Got Her Eye on Me- Smart Remarks Foreign Fields: 1982 - 1984 
Leave- Regular Guys Regular Guys E.P. 7" 
Love Me Like There's No Tomorrow- Rooney Washed Away 
*Mistakes- Madness Mistakes 
*Mistake- Artful Dodger Babes On Broadway 
*Mistakes- The Lash Outs State of Excess 
Oldest Oak at Brookside- John K. Samson Winter Wheat 
Another School Day- The Hollywood Brats Sick On You 
Get Outa My Pagoda- Chris Spedding The Very Best Of Chris Spedding 
*The Same Mistakes- The Records Smashes, Crashes and Near Misses 
*Same Mistake- The Pets Misdirection 
*New Mistakes- The Celibate Rifles The Turgid Miasma of Existence 
*New Mistake- Jellyfish Spilt Milk 
All These Things- Empire Expensive Sound 
No More- The Tweeds I Need That Record: The Tweeds Anthology 
Irreplaceable- Popsicle Laquer 
>My Mistake- Split Enz My Mistake 
Great British Mistake- The Adverts Crossing The Red Sea 
Forgiveness- Bob Mould Beauty and Ruin

^Power Pop Peak:  #6 Billboard Hot 100 8/20/83

*SacroSet[s]:  Miztake Songz

>Power Pop Prototype:  1977 

My daughter Nica is a big fan of Lin-Manuel Miranda's Tony-winning first show In The Heights so we were familiar with his work when the first articles about Hamilton started appearing in the press.  We followed the show's progress from it's Off Broadway run at The Public Theater and then onto Broadway, where the rest as they say is history.  I bought the cast recording the week it came out in September 2015 and on a family trip to down Monterey that Thanksgiving we probably listened to it at least ten times (both discs!)  Since then it's been a selection in our home at least once a week.  It's been especially enjoyable hearing Nica perfect Angelica Schuyler's spitfire rap in Act 1's "Satisfied."

 Market Street 12/12/16
In Fall 2015 SHN announced Hamilton would be coming to San Francisco in March 2017.  They then leveraged the show's appeal to sell tickets to their 2016 season- the only way to guarantee your right to BUY tickets to Hamilton was to BUY tickets to six other shows the prior year!  In December the other 99% got their chance to buy tickets and it was CRAZY.  In our Internet-dominant age, it was very cool to see people camping out for anything.  The show also did a lottery for $20 tickets (I'm guessing that was Lin-Manuel's idea and not SHN's) and we heard about several people scoring tickets, including Nica's Civics teacher.
Within a few days tickets were up to $1500 for an orchestra seat on Craigslist so Jaime and I figured we'd get our chance to see it sometime in 2018.  Then a few weeks before Christmas Jaime got a call from James, a friend and former member of her board, who wanted to give her the amazing gift of two tickets to see Hamilton on March 16, 2017!  She was thrilled for about 90 seconds then horrified when she realized that both Nica (as lead actress) and I (as Stage Manager) had a performance of Emma! A Pop Musical that nightLuckily James' wife Jennifer was able to finagle an exchange for an earlier date that happened to be March 14, my 25th wedding anniversary.  We could not have been more grateful to James and Jennifer.  In that spirit, a selfless act for which I've got to be in the running for Father of the Year, Jaime and I agreed that we would give my ticket to Nica for Christmas.  She had to literally piece it together Christmas morning because Jaime had written each letter on a different scrap of paper.

We were so busy with Emma! in January and February I didn't give Hamilton much thought. 
Emma! A Pop Musical
The plan was that I would drive Jaime and Nica down, go record shopping at Amoeba or maybe see a movie, then drive them home.  The day before the show I thought I'd see if there were any reasonably priced tickets up on Craigslist- the best I found was one in the mezzanine for $280 but it was gone by the time I e-mailed the dude.  Just for kicks I went to the SHN website and saw they had four house right "obstructed view" orchestra seats for sale and I snagged one for $200!  I was going to see Hamilton with my ladies!   

The next day we drove down and to save on parking I asked Jaime and Nica if they wouldn't mind walking the last third of a mile.  Unfortunately I didn't have
The Tenderloin
my bearings and this took us down Hyde Street passing right through the TenderloinMy discussion of how Theater Districts have historically abutted Red Light Districts in many cities (The Combat Zone in Boston, Times Square in NYC, etc.) was not well received as we were stepping over several homeless people.  If my Father of the Year Award wasn't already in peril, a sketchy dude in a parka asked me if I was running an escort service.  NICE!  Suddenly saving $40 on parking didn't seem like such a good deal.  We ate at Florinda's
Market Street Grill, one of the few expensive restaurants right near the Orpheum TheaterAfter that walk down Hyde Street there was no way I was going to get away with Sam's American Eatery.  

We had timed things right, so after a leisurely dinner it was a quick walk across the street to the theaterFull disclosure I'm kind of a "if I can't see it on Broadway why bother" snob so I didn't have high expectations.  That said, the Orpheum is
beautiful and a lot more spacious than most NYC theaters I've visited.  In most of those Broadway houses the street doors seem to open onto the back row but the Orpheum has a huge lobby.

Jaime and I made a deal that she would sit with Nica for Act 1 then we'd swap seats for Act 2.  This way I got to sit with my daughter for my favorite song in the show:  "It's Quiet Uptown.After the curtain speech, hilariously delivered by King George III, the show just.... started.  

"How does a bastard, orphan, son of a whore and a Scotsman..." 

Joshua Henry
I had listened to the cast recording so many times that the opening of the show was downright surreal.  I thought to myself "Oh my God, NoI'm not ready, I need more TIME" but there was Joshua Henry as Aaron Burr spitting rhymes and I wasn't going to miss a word.  I could see everything from my "obstructed view" seat except one quick exchange that took place on the up left second level- not bad for a seat I bought the day before 

The Hamilton set is both sparse and intricate at the same time and includes a turntable that often plays with your sense of movement.   Phantom of the Opera it ain't but for this production I thought it was perfect.  The show is lightning fast at times then at others it slows to a crawl.  I was worried that I knew the musical so well the live experience wouldn't hold anything new for me but it was thrilling from start to finish.  I also realized that in recording a cast album without visual context and for the broadest possible audience they probably limit the small idiosyncrasies each actor brings to their part.   For this reason the live show struck me as much funnier than I expected.  Little things like the way Amber Iman delivered her "and Peggys" in "The Schuyler Sisters" was freakin' hilarious!
Solea Pfeiffer, Emmy Raver-Lampman, Amber Iman
Rory O'Malley
Jonathan Groff is great on the record but Rory O'Malley jacked up the fun factor by 1000%.  It probably helps that he played the character on Broadway before joining the tour.  He could twitch an eyebrow and get a huge laugh- man is that guy fantastic!  I had to say it was very hard not to sing along with "You'll Be Back," especially in the final chorus when he says "everybody!"  (Turns out he is talking to his fellow cast mates and not to me in the audience.)

Michael Luwoye
Jaime wanted a softer Alexander Hamilton but I think Michael Luwoye did a great job bringing a desperation and ferocity that made the role his own.  He is the first actor to play both Hamilton and Burr on Broadway, so it's no surprise he played the part so well.  The story is he first auditioned for Mulligan and after numerous callbacks ended up booking the understudy role for BOTH Hamilton and Burr.  Try beating those credentials when it comes time to cast the touring company. 

Hamilton Pit
One recent development on Broadway that I don't
care for is how some theaters have moved the orchestra off-site to make room for more seating.  The music is still being played live, but you lose something when you're not in the room with the musicians.  I'm happy to say that in Hamilton SF the orchestra was front and center in the pit where they're supposed to be- in fact during "The Reynolds Pamphlet" Jefferson hands the conductor a copy of the titular missive. I love the combination or old and new technology in the pit.  There were several pieces of electronic equipment at each station that I didn't recognize and every musician had their own monitor with a view of the conductorAt the same time, they were reading the music off printed pages of paper, as orchestras have been doing for hundreds of years. 

I'm with you Cast, BRAVO Orchestra!

What a pleasure to have something you've looked forward to for so long exceed your expectations.  Hamilton really is a musical for the ages and I'm so grateful we got to see it together.

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