Seeing Bob Weir and Ratdog at The Beacon Theater on Friday, Oct. 23, 2009 was quite a classy experience. Concert goers were dressed in the non-rattiest of tye-dyes, long hair was pulled back into neat ponytails and perfectly polished wire-wrapped crystal pendants were seen glimmering in the lights.
My journey to The Beacon Theater, however, was not that classy. Paul and I and our whiskey & ginger ale cocktails took the L train to Manhattan from Brooklyn, transferred to an express A train uptown that passed the stop we needed (72nd St) and we were forced to ride along until the next stop. We boarded a C train downtown, and as it pulled away from the station a male voice came on the intercom and said a bunch of things I couldn’t always understand, but included, “Next stop, suck my dick.” and, “There’s a bomb on the train! Everyone run for your life!” The conductor soon came on the intercom and said the train was being held because there was “vandalism on the train, the police have been notified and the perpetrators will be arrested.” Then the conductor set off this horrrrrrible high pitched alarm and I started to have an anxiety attack we would be late for the show, but alas, the train started moving and we made it with enough time to hang outside the venue for a few minutes and get into the theater early to find our seats before the tunes got grooving.
(*Note to heads that haven’t attended a show in NYC: Not exactly a good lot scene on the streets of uptown Manhattan.)
The Beacon Theater had the most intense security check I’ve ever encountered when going into a show. The woman that searched me had this little stick she went through everything in my bag with (and by bag I mean “fanny pack”), she even made me open up my notepad. Then she stuck the stick in my boots and in all my pockets and wow, my heart was kind of beating hard! But I passed her test and away we went into the theater!
Unfortunately our seats were on the 3rd and final level of the theater, but it was OK because the seating was constructed on a pretty drastic slope, so I still had a good view, just from a farther distance.
I stood in line for a cocktail and almost choked when the bartender charged the guy in front of me $18 for one drink. I asked him if it was $18 for one drink and he said yes, but he got a double shot. When it was my turn the bartender asked me very nicely if I would like a double, but I declined the offer. My Tanqueray and tonic cost $8.
The band Ratdog is based upon founding member Bob Weir, who was also a founding member of the Grateful Dead. “Ratdog” has been an official band since the death of Jerry Garcia in 1995. Though Bob Weir continues to play with a variety of artists, the band at my show on 10.23.09 consisted of the following members: Bob Weir on guitar and vocals, Jeff Chimenti on keyboards and vocals, Jay Lane on drums, percussion and vocals, Mark Karan on guitar and vocals, Kenny Brooks on saxophone, touchpad and vocals, and Robin Sylvester on bass guitar and vocals.
The band opened with “The Music Never Stopped” and flowed into what I consider to be a rather dope setlist.
The last time I saw Ratdog, at Gathering of the Vibes in July 2009, their vibe was really mellow for the most part, and I was hoping to get in some good dancing at The Beacon…which I did! Their 3rd song was a slow Bob Dylan cover, “Senor”, but it was done with such elegance and beauty that I didn’t mind hearing it at all! It’s a song I will often skip on my IPod, but hearing Mr. Weir sing it live warmed my little soul. I was so grateful to be blessed with a “Loose Lucy” AND “Might as Well” in the first set! I love a lot of songs, but I really love those two songs and I feel like I don’t usually hear them live. I was jiving, with my hair swinging in my face, holding my glow sticks up high for Bobby to see…
During intermission I got in touch with some friends that were at the show and Paul and I were able to move to their seats, which coincidentally were on the same level and same row we were in, but smack in the middle of the theater. Our original seats were on the left side and you really can’t hear vocals over there that well. I was really glad we got to move over by my friends because it was more lively and enjoyable, and our new seats rocked even though my old seat was an aisle…but I sacrificed the aisle to be able to stare at the band straight ahead!
Something funny that happened during 2nd set was that Eric and Stacie went to the bathroom and I gave Eric money and asked him to get me a bottle of water. When he came back he had two beers in hand, plopped one down in front of me and told me they were “sold out” of water. I started laughing a lot because I thought he was lying about being sold out of water and just wanted me to drink beer with him…which I did…but as it turned out when Paul went to the bathroom I asked him to get me water and he verified the venue was in deed sold out. I liked that Eric got me a beer because on Friday before the show I wrote my status update on Facebook that I was going to see Ratdog and I quoted the song lyrics, “I asked him for water, he poured me some wine…” And that’s basically exactly what happened to me at the show.
Here is a picture of Eric and Stacie…Stacie was 36 weeks pregnant at the show…kudos, mama!! And oh, it really is not a very good picture of her she looks so much cuter in real life but it was really hard to photograph in the lighting of the venue I couldn’t see what I was doing and I didn’t want to keep setting the flash off so I settled for this picture…
The band opened 2nd set with “Me and My Uncle” into “BURY ME STANDING,” which if you can not tell by the caps lock, I LOVE that song!! “Looks like Rain” and “Althea” into “Iko Iko”! “Iko Iko” was phenomenal because they brought out one guest drummer, Tom Pope, two guest saxophone players, George Garzone and Doug Yates, and two guest keyboard players, Dred Scott and John Ginty.
Now, according to the setlist on Ratdog.org, after “Iko Iko” they played “Scarlet Begonias”, and I believe it was after SB that Bobby left stage and the musicians jammed without him…but then something really awkward happened that left me amazed and…stooped? As I remember, Bobby had been off stage for several minutes, maybe about ten, when a guy in jeans, a t-shirt and baseball cap came on stage, took the mic and started rapping. Rapping. At a Ratdog show. I don’t know what he was saying, but it was NOT sounding good. I thought something happened to Bobby. I thought maybe he had a heart attack backstage and they threw this stage hand/road crew dude out there to kill some time. But I actually just did a little Internet research and found out this rapper’s name is Chris Burger and he was in a band called Alphabet Soup with Ratdog drummer Jay Lane. According to MySpace, “Alphabet Soup was formed in San Francisco in 1991 by saxophonist Kenny Brooks, pianist Dred Scott, rapper Chris Burger and drummer Jay Lane.” Ok, at least now I know the connection, but I still don’t know why they sent him out on stage. OH WELL!
I was slightly disappointed with the show’s encore, but respected it and decided it was appropriate for the venue. All six main members of Ratdog stood up and sang “Attics of My Life” in its entirety. It was, as I said in the beginning of this blog, classy.
I was really, really hoping they would play one more rockin’ number before the show ended…but they didn’t. The lights came on, the band members bowed and everybody bounced.
After the show Paul and I stumbled into a diner and I jotted down a few last notes which are barely legible to me right now. It says, “At Diner! Belgian waffle with strawberries. Blueberry muffin. I hope. Butter. Wasted. Red Eyes. Frizzy hair. DON’T FORGET “SENOR”! And the muffin!”
While we were waiting for our food I asked the waiter if he “forgot” about the muffin I ordered. He brought the muffin and Paul’s plate of food, and then I asked him if my Belgian waffle was still on its way. My, oh my, was I hungry! I ate every last bit of my diner food and then we headed for the longest subway ride back to Brooklyn ever. At least we didn’t get on any wrong trains but I was about to fall asleep in the bums’ spots.
What a night!
I’m singing thank you, Bobby, for a real good time!