Saturday, 20 January 2007

It’s been years since I’ve been to a comedy show. Back then I went to several local clubs to see standup the way I think it should be: small, smokey, and intimate. Back before they all got big and started doing stadium shows instead.

There are only a few comedians whose work I enjoy enough to actually rant to see them live outside a club setting. Dennis Miller, Denis Leary, Bill Cosby, Richard Pryor (although he was slightly before my time), and Lewis Black.

After seeing him on The Daily Show and several TV standup specials, he came to the State Theater in Minneapolis and did his thing.

Always the angry sort, he did riffs on religion, politics, sports, and the absurdity of life in general.

He spent a lot of time on politics, but that wasn’t always the case in his act. I think the big change came about shortly after 9/11, when entire world governments truly went berzerk. Now the jokes seem to write themselves — a concept he even touched upon in his performance.

All told the show was between 2 and 2.5 hours, which included John Bowen opening and a 15 minute intermission.

Both Bowen and Black came out for autographs after the show. I’m still enough of a fanboy that I stood in line after the show just to say hi. OK, maybe not just to say “Hi,” I did get my CD autographed and a picture wpth him too.

It was a fun show and I laughed the whole time. Pretty good for a big theater show, although I think I still prefer the smaller clubs instead.

Once home to a movie theater, The Varsity has taken on new life as a concert venue. Due to it’s on-campus location and difficulty finding parking, I wasn’t the biggest fan at first. However, having been there for at least a half-dozen shows over the last couple months, the place has kind of grown on me.

Outfitted with café tables, couches, and comfortable chairs, The Varsity feels more like several small living rooms than it does a concert hall. Table lamps and candlelight add a certain homey quality that makes you feel as though you’re among friends. It’s a place that lends itself toward easy-going artists such as Kaki King and Stuart Davis.

The first opener was a group called Jelloslave and I just have to ask “What the fuck?” Is this really what music has come to? In our unending quest for something new are we to believe that the new frontier is cacaphonous, discordant noise? Please, for the love of all that is holy, NO! Two cellos, a pecussionist on tablas, and a drummer, and a percussionist; each apparently playing at different shows. It had that same unrecognizable quality that free-form, acid Jazz has. Completely random sounding, but played with such purpose that it must have been intentional. It wasn’t until their last song that they played something accessible enough that I could get into it.

Next up was Kubla Kahn, a 6-piece rock-n-roll act. Quite simply, they kicked ass. Throughout their eight-song set they put on a solid show with lots of energy and great tunes. People in the audience got up and danced a bit, sang along and generally had a good time. Kubla Kahn was just what an opening act should be, a warm-up for the crowd and a taste of things to come. I’ll have to pick up a CD sometime (they packed up their merch before the end of the Honeydogs set.)

Finally, taking the stage at almost 11:30, was The Honeydogs. Now, I’ve seen them before, and Adam Levy is one of my favorite local musicans; so to say I was looking forward to this show would be a bit of an understatement. I was not to be dissappointed either. Through their 90+ minute set they did a bunch of stuff from the new album, Amygdala, as well as older stuff. They kept up the energy the whole time and really turned it out.

All in all, it was a great evening and well worth it. If you ever get the chance, see them live and say hello to Adam, you won’t regret it.