Friday night I was invited to join some friends for a show over at 12 Galaxies, and since it’s maybe two blocks from my front door I couldn’t refuse. I hadn’t been in there before but it’s a nice space, a smallish club with two levels and an atrium so you can play pool upstairs and still watch the band. Which is exactly what we did. Actually there were three bands, Carney Ball Johnson opened with a set that was a mixed bag of Sun Ra covers, ska and rockabilly with a little vaudeville influence just for good measure.
They were followed by Hamell On Trial, which was my favorite act of the night. Imagine a balding, middle-aged, masculine version of Ani DiFranco hopped up on a few too many Red Bulls and you’ll have a pretty good idea of what his show is like. Or you could just listen to one of the songs he played. I’ve never seen one guy rock out so hard all by himself on stage.
Last of all, Rube Waddell took to the stage. This was the band we’d actually come to see, but honestly I was not so enthused. Maybe the carnival atmosphere they tried to create was just not my thing, maybe I was just tired after Hamill On Trial’s firey (and very long) set, but their style of kitschy Americana did nothing for me. Their audience, on the other hand, was enormously fun to watch. The Haight contingent was well represented, including one girl who must’ve believed she was Janis Joplin reincarnated, a guy who somehow combined the look of the Merry Pranksters with that of a pimp from some 70’s blaxploitation flick, and a girl who was wearing a sparkly crocheted halter dress…with spats. There was also a good-sized crowd of the usual indie rockers and aging hipsters, some drunken cargo short guys, a couple of asian lesbian raver chicks, some scrawny mods in their requisite parkas, and a few lost Marina girls reliving their days of slumming it with their fellow Tri-Delts.
The one thing this disparate crowd all had in common? The worst rhythm I have ever seen. These people could not keep the beat if their lives depended on it, with the exception of one bicolor-haired cowgirl who made everyone else look bad. The highlight of the set for me was when one indie rock girl tried to slam dance with the hippies.
Damn, I love this town.