AVC at the DNC: Day Four
Of course, as I've mentioned in passing before, I don't even drink anymore. But I woke up this morning with a buzzing head and a billion needles of fatigue trying to drill their way out of my skin.
That's what I get, though, for overdosing last night on classic rock and Japanese fast food with Neil Hamburger. And on Eugene Mirman's deadpan stab at political journalism. And on the indie-rock-with-a-hardcore-heart of Ted Leo And The Pharmacists. Oh–and on the historic DNC acceptance speech of a presidential candidate named Barack Obama. Would a motherfucking "Amen!" be entirely out of the question?
Yesterday started out in a wash of vision-blurring exhaustion. I was already burned out after two days of running around Denver, blogging about the DNC, and helping keep The A.V. Club's own DNC party on track for last night. As I mentioned in yesterday's post, part of those duties included shuttling Ted Leo And The Pharmacists–guitarist James Canty (formerly of Nation Of Ulysses and The Make-Up); bassist Marty Key, drummer Chris Wilson; sound engineer Scott Adamson; and Leo himself–between downtown Denver and their hotel in the hinterland of the city's suburbs (the only place we were able to book them a room in the frenetic weeks before the DNC hit).
It was tiring, but it was a blast. I've been a fan of Leo since 1996, when I picked up 8 A.M. All Day, an album by his previous band, Chisel. At their best, his songs are totally inspirational–a salvo of razor-sharp songcraft and swift kicks to the dick of all the dull, shuffling, half-assed, self-indulgent bullshit that constitutes too much indie-rock today. It's music that looks hard at the future while staying rooted in all the groups–The Clash, The Jam, The Ruts, Buzzcocks, Stiff Little Fingers–that made me fall in love with punk when I was a kid.
After The Pharmacists' sound check last night, I picked up Neil Hamburger (who had spent the previous evening in Aspen getting drunk with a Beatles tribute group that features–no lie–Todd Rundgren, Christopher Cross, Lou Gramm of Foreigner, and Denny Laine of Wings; the mind staggers) and met everyone at a Denver institution called Charlie Brown's. Charlie Brown's is known for its old-school piano bar–and, in fact, the pianist, despite protests and something close to physical provocation, decided to continue playing during Obama's speech. Leo wound up leaving to look for a piano-less bar in which to watch Obama, but the rest of us ground our teeth and stuck it out. Needless to say, by the time the band hit the stage a few hours later, they–along with the capacity crowd of 600-plus–were clearly still riding high on Obama euphoria. The Pharmacists packed 16 songs into 45 minutes, jumped around like maniacs, sweated like pigs, and embodied the hopeful elation everyone in the room was feeling.
Of course, that might have been partly due to all the free drinks that were being dished out. But still.
No feel-good moment, of course, couldn't benefit from a cynical smearing of shit. Before Leo and crew took the stage last night, two of American's greatest comedic assets–Neil Hamburger and Eugene Mirman–warmed up the crowd. Mirman was genially bitter and wry, but it was clear from his set, which included some hilarious voice-overs of McCain campaign ads and guerrilla-style interviews on the floor of the Pepsi Center, that he was as caught up in Obamamania as everyone else.
Hamburger, on the other hand, did his best to but a damper on the happiness. Calling Obama a purveyor of "hate speech," he offered a typically bizarre, corrosive set of so-bad-they're-good jokes like the following: "Q: What did the Hispanic Burger King employee say to Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama when he asked if he could get a Whopper with no mayonnaise? A: Yes you can."
After some post-show running around, another trip to and from the band's hotel, and a quick four hours of sleep to add to the cumulative twelve I've had so far this week, I scrambled out of bed this morning to drive The Pharmacists to breakfast before they had to catch their plane home. The conversation, of course, instantly turned toward John McCain's attempt at upstaging Obama's speech with his desperate, transparent stunt of choosing Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his running mate. But the talk turned silly when someone in the car randomly suggested Danzig should've been McCain's VP pick–which led to a round of impersonations of McCain reciting Misfits lyrics. It wasn't really that funny, but we all laughed our asses off anyway. And with that giddy hangover of hope, the 2008 Democratic National Convention was over. Time to catch up on some massively overdue sleep; just make sure I'm up by November 4.