I first ran across Esthero when she appeared on a Blue Man Group album, of all things. She did a cool version of Jefferson Airplane’s “White Rabbit” on their release The Complex.
Then, completely by happenstance, I saw her on one of the late-night talk shows. She did the title song from her latest CD, Wikked Lil’ Grrrls. It’s a sassy little number and I liked it immediately, so when I learned she was coming to town, I didn’t think twice about picking up a ticket.
Later I discovered that Mike Doughty from Soul Coughing was going to play the Aquatennial Block Party. At that point I knew it was going to be a busy night. I’d try to see the Doughty show, then hit the Fine Line. The schedule would be tight, but it would all work out.
And work out it did. I saw Doughty and made it to the Fine Line near the end of the first opening act.
The first guy, I didn’t catch his name, but he wasn’t right for the show. He was a singer/songwriter/guitar act that struck me as whiney and a real downer.
The second opening act was a woman named Toya Alexis. I was worried when she took the stage. It was just Alexis and a guy playing acoustic guitar. To my surprise, she turned out to be something else. What an incredible voice!
On one song, I think it was “Baby”, she did about half of it as herself, then briefly as each of several well-known singers like Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston, and Ertha Kitt. There were one or two others, but I don’t remember for sure. It was both hilarious and stunning at the same time.
Then Esthero herself took the stage…with two backup singers and an 8-piece band comprised of a drums, percussion, a flute/saxophone player, trumpet, trombone, bass, guitar (who played with Toya during the opening act), and keyboards.
Based on what I could find on-line, the set list was “Wikked Lil’ Girls,” “Breath from Another,” “OG Bitch,” “Country Livin’,” “Swallow Me,” “Everyday is a Holiday with You,” “If Tha Mood,” “Superheros,” “Bad Boy Clyde,” “Half A World Away,” “Gone,” “My Torture,” “Fastlane,” “We Are In Need of a Musical Revolution,” “Joey,” “Amelia,” and “Wish You Away.” There were a couple other songs too, but I’m not even sure the list above is entirely accurate.
At one point, between songs, Esthero called out a guy because he was just way too loud. “If I can hear you better than I can hear myself, you’re too f’in loud!” Then she strongly suggested he buy her a shot from the bar. Sheepishly, he complied, but Mr. Loudmouth didn’t quiet down much afterward.
After a short break, Esthero and her brother, J, came out to do “Joey” and a new song she hadn’t practiced with the band. Then everyone came back out to do the last couple songs.
After the show, both the dummer and the trombone player took time out to talk for a few minutes. Both were very cool, but couldn’t stay long as they had to pack their own stuff and head to Chicago for a show the next night. When the trombonist saw my camera he asked if I had gotten a couple flash pictures. (I had.) The bell on his horn was painted with an orange, red, and white flame-ish pattern. The rest of the instrument was mostly white rather than a normal yellow-brass color. It took on an unearthly glow when the flash hit it.
Esthero didn’t come out after the show, but her manager or assistant took stuff backstage to get it signed. Some of the other folks waiting got brought back to see Esthero, but I got skipped. I think I’m too introverted and therefor not pushy enough to have gotten a behind-the-scenes meet-and-greet. Clearly it’s something I need to work on.
The tally: 90+ minutes of music, 1 musical discovery (Toya Alexis), 308 pictures, and 1 autograph. All on top of the earlier show. A damn fine night indeed.