Okay, I completely screwed up and forgot to write about All You Can Eat this week. Next week, I promise.
As I finalize Ghost Notes and Songs from Memory over the next few months, I’m going to blog regularly on the Refreshments.
So, this unnamed band was off and running, coming off a successful first gig and looking to broaden its horizons.
Blush had recently procured the job of booking bands at Gibson’s, the refurbished Chuy’s, on Mill, a medium-sized club that sported a ridiculously high stage and elongated floor, and we proceeded to exploit his new position. We started leading off for bands at Gibson’s, Wong’s and elsewhere, and we made a point to do something wacky every time. I remember going to Kmart and buying waterwings, which were worn by all of us onstage, and another time buying little girls’ Easter hats. (I think the Easter bonnet gig was at Edsel’s Attic, which was a club right above the Spaghetti Company on Mill.) I remember Dusty looking particularly fetching in his bonnet, and Blush wearing his on top of his trademark black hat. Once, at Wong’s, we bought a helium balloon machine and I sat onstage, drunk as a sailor, blowing up balloon after balloon for a half hour before our set. We swore on our seventeenth gig (why seventeen, I don’t know) we would all wear evening gowns. By the time we arrived at our seventeenth gig, everyone conveniently forgot about it. The gimmick had run its course.
This all sounds dorky in retrospect, but it was fun at the time.
Once the ice was broken, we just kept playing, three, four, five nights a week, doing our best not to take ourselves too seriously, hamming it up, having fun, and writing songs. This era brought tunes like “Mekong,” “Wanted,” “Dolly,” “Broken Record,” “Buy American,” “Los Angeles,” “Professor,” “Appreciate,” and I think we started working in “Una Soda.” (Again, an old Mortals song we co-oped.)
So, when did things start to change from our friends and girlfriends dancing and cheering us on to something else, something bigger, something more potentially scene-changing?
I’ll always remember a gig at Wong’s, rocking out “Suckerpunch,” when someone stepped on a cord and Roger’s microphone went out. We all looked at each other, like all bands do at these times, wondering what to do. That’s when we heard it.
The crowd had picked up the lyrics. “Baby I was never cool enough/To get a job at a record store.” They were singing, yelling the words to “Suckerpunch” right back at us while we played. There we were, a local band for all of a couple of months, leading off around town, no CD to sell, but people already knew the words to our songs. Goosebumps rose on the back of my neck. This was getting good.