In 2005, I showed up at MI’s Yuba City house in a dress. It was Halloween. His ex was playing Clap Your Hands Say Yeah’s debut album in the living room stereo, and she made him admit – to my face – that he did, indeed, like the album. Not love it, maybe, and he certainly didn’t think it deserved all of the made-up accolades I was trying to bestow upon it. But he liked it. In spite of himself.
Ten years later, Alec Ounsworth is touring with CYHSY 2.0, celebrating that seminal album. And two weeks ago, he brought the party to The Independent.
What is significant about this show, on a personal level, is the relationship to my last turnaround experience. In 2005 I cemented relationships with friends who I still trust and confide in to this day. Friends who helped me and stood by me during some of the darkest periods of my recent past. And when I look back on that year, and some of the prominent events, I hear songs from this album.
One of the first times I hung out with DH, outside of work, was at a CYHSY show at the GAMH. Over an email he said I’d find him because he’d be “wearing a hat.” DH has always been a man of few words; he’s a visual guy, and I think he sees the world in an assemblage of images unlike anything I’m used to or able to experience. So when he said he’d be wearing a hat, succinctly and matter-of-factly, I had no problem assuming that it’d be enough to pick him out in a crowd.
It was. He was wearing a top hat.
We got elephant posters as we were leaving, and after we were maybe two blocks away, SS insisted that we run back inside so that she could ask for a setlist. She didn’t get one; but Robbie signed all our elephants.
I met JAL while training for my first marathon in 2004. The following year, we recruited SW and SS to join our little running club (because we knew enough, at this point, to handle all logistics, nutrition, and injury-prevention on our own; JAL bought an expensive GPS-watch waaay before they were trendy, and then ran it through the washing machine). It was grueling, and once we got up into double-digit mileage, the energy and conversation naturally started waning.
I’d usually kick it off: “Now that everybody’s heeeere…”
SS exuberantly followed suit: “Could we please have your attention?”
JAL, at the top of his lungs: “There is nothing left to fear…”
SW, somewhat reluctantly: “No, now that bigfoot is captured…”
All together now… “And all the children are alriiight”*
Right up through the chorus, the maddening “child stars” march and the “SEX!” and the “DRUGS!” and the “rock and rock and ROCKandROCKandROLL Yeah!” And before you knew, we had another half-mile in the books.
*these may or may not be the correct lyrics. but it’s what we sang back then. and it’s what I heard from Alec and the crowd at the Independent on this night. and it’s what I sang myself, as loudly as I was able.
I’m not very good at writing show reviews. I wish I was. But I seem to fixate too often on the overall experience, and tangential relationships, more so than the details. Luckily, MH was there that night, and he has no problem writing a great show review.