In 1996 or so our band !Tang was doing really well in the Bay Area so we started occasionally road-tripping down to play shows in Los Angeles.
One trip was the Viper Room, another was the Troubadour, there was some horrible place in Newport Beach that sucked. For one of the early ones, I remember dinner at the Sizzler across the street more than the gig itself. Pearl’s?
Were we trying to get signed? Grow a fanbase? Have an adventure? Depends on who you ask. I was happy enough to play music and see high school friends who had recently moved south. Others were definitely trying to impress industry types who weren’t even in the room.
They were probably disappointed by my attitude toward the whole thing. I was definitely having more fun.
On the way back from one of these big exciting showcase outreach vacation party weekends, our friend and booker Tere got us a gig in Fresno. More specifically, an Easter Sunday night gig downtown.
I think the place was called Fulton’s but that pulls up a much bigger venue in Google. This was a well kept dive in that downtown mall. There was a stage by the door. A pleasant fellow tended bar in the distance. Tere was chatting with him over by the jukebox. I think Erin was on this trip with us, so let’s put her down as my +1. There were 9 in the band, and Gerald specifically remembers 13 humans in the room.
That leaves 1 paying guest. I wonder what the cover was?
We eventually played a short set, but we mostly talked. The bartender told us about another band that had just been through, Lars Vegas. Their “Nervada” disc was on the jukebox so we all gave it a listen.
I loved it. Who doesn’t love retro lounge sprechgesang surf jazz?
Well… I can’t find much about Lars Vegas online, so maybe don’t answer that. This much we know: they are from Boston. The guy from Morphine plays some bari sax and bass clarinet on it. Some guy in Germany performs under the same name. It’s a great name.
If you’re pressed for time, jump to 11:37 and listen to Big Black Bird thru Mosquito Hunter. That’s the good stuff, man. Get up and move! Do some dishes or something.
Your heart is probably racing now, so let’s slow it down with Junkie Rock Star at 32:30. I am assuming you, like me, like your generic tribute songs affected yet strangely effective. This one must be about Kurt Cobain, right? That changed everything, right?
After those three tracks you are going to want to go back and listen to the whole album. You could have done that in the first place, dummy!
OK fine, maybe you don’t like it. Maybe artists that indulge in what they mock confuse and anger you. Maybe meaningful nonsense just isn’t your thing.
For me, it was the perfect soundtrack for the little scene I so carefully painted in the first half of this entry. Somehow it resonated. Now I’m stuck with it.
Viva Lars Vegas!