To start with, they did not refer to what they did as comedy. Comedy was for the unenlightened. What they did was d… https://t.co/1zr1qzrSuh (5 days ago)

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Feb
21

Don’t

When talking about bands, the term ‘shoegazer’ refers to artists that spend their time on stage staring down at the floor, motionless as they play.

When talking about the cover band that was currently on stage, audience members would say that they were on a whole other level.

During the first song most of them just assumed that they were mishearing the lyrics. They knew the song so well that they just added the missing word, but after the third or forth chorus they realized the lead singer was seemingly encouraging them to step on his blue suede shoes.

When the song was over he mumbled, head down, a quick “thanks” (that sounded more like a question) at the smattering of applause.

Sheepishly the band began another song.

Ironically it was a Nina Simone cover that came out as Let Me Be Misunderstood. Mission accomplished cover band. The final notes spilled out to near silence.

His hands clenching and unclenching nervously, the lead singer approached the mic. “I drive a 2006 Suzuki Esteem. It’s a piece of shit. Let that sink in. A piece of shit called Esteem. I hope that explains some things.” With that the band launched, although launched might be an overstatement, into Stop Me Now by Queen.

Dream It’s Over by Crowded House followed.

They were really not cooking now. The keyboardist spilled his drink on his keyboard and the drummer had lost a stick and couldn’t find another. With only one drumstick he pantomimed hitting them together to start the next song, so Let Me Down by the Beatles started poorly.

The lead singer couldn’t bring himself to look up even once during the entire song. Somehow this made him sort of endearing to the audience and they began to warm up to the band. By the end of the song some were even singing along;

 

It’s in my head, darling, I hope

That you’ll be here when I need you the most, so

Let me, let me, let me down

Let me down

 

When the song ended a few of the people near the front continued singing for a little while. It almost seemed cathartic for them. People got up out of their chairs and approached the band, a growing sense of anticipation to see what was coming next.

They did not seem disappointed as Look Back in Anger from Oasis came pumping out of the speakers. The reaction was so positive that the lead singer almost looked up as he was singing.

Almost.

When the song ended there was a roar of applause. The band had the crowd exactly where they had no intention of wanting them.

The guy running the lights dimmed them for a few seconds to build tension. In those few seconds the drummer found his other stick. Energized he began to work the pedal on the kick drum with increased enthusiasm and the audience began to clap along in time. As soon as they recognized Forget About Me by Simple Minds the place went bananas. When it came time for the chorus you could barely hear the lead singer over the crowd’s full-throated vocals.

Without a moment’s hesitation the band went seamlessly into Fleetwood Mac’s Stop.

The place went apeshit. A middle-aged woman gave serious consideration to lifting her shirt and flashing her boobs, but decided against it. Nearby a 300 lb trucker with an enormous beard felt no such hesitation.

And then it was time for the last song. Lighters materialized and the crowd was swaying as one. The place was about to burst. Years of pent-up frustration and disappointment was about to spill out of every man and woman in attendance. Everyone just knew a climax was about to be reached…

and then the piano part started…

 

Just a small town girl

Livin’ in a lonely world

She took the midnight train goin’ anywhere

Just a city boy

Born and raised in South Detroit

He took the midnight train goin’ anywhere

 

The singer just stood back from the mic and let the audience sing it. From the stage it was deafening. Women began to openly weep as they sang and the bottom lips of even the most rugged-looking men began to tremble slightly as the ending of the song, and the evening, fast approached.

 

Stop believin’

Don’t hold on to that feelin’

Streetlight, people

Stop, believin’

Don’t hold on

Streetlights, people

Stop believin’

Don’t hold on to that feelin’

 

An hour or so later the lead singer of the cover band Don’t made his way out to the parking lot to leave. Smiling. He was about to get into his car when he stopped and walked around to the back. A few years before somebody had written LOW SELF in front of where the name Esteem was emblazoned on the trunk. He stared at the words for a few minutes. His smile got broader.

“Damn right” he said to no one.

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