Sunday, January 14, 2007

Viva…Las Wyomissing

So I had a pretty decent gig on Friday. PFA was playing at a new club (well new for US…) called Viva. Or more specifically ViVÁ™ (…Seriously. That’s how it’s spelled on their website. Or “wEbSité ®.”) The club is located near Redding, PA or near Lancaster, PA or near Pottsville, PA or Hamburg, PA or.... Essentially, someone built the same town up and down Rt. 222 a dozen times and called each one something different. (Although I guess that’s true for MOST of America, no?) Anyway- It was the first time we’d played there, because we had been booking ourselves into another local club called Casa Grande, and I guess we didn’t want to dilute the Reading / Hamburg / Lancaster funk pool. How dilute that pool can get is still under discussion at funk central. Gigs at Casa Grande were ok, but we had to deal with an ASS of pseudo manager (actually the owners’ son) who was, well… an ASS of a pseudo manager. The owners were as nice as could be- but by the end of the night, when we had to get paid, I’d have to deal with this yutz of a Sinatra-Wanna-Be. He was the kinda guy who would walk by waitresses and slap them on the ass. You know: CLASSY. And then there would be this STUPID FUCKING game that I’d have to play with him about asking for the check- and reminding him that I asked about the check- and “whenever you’re ready- we can do business…” and “the guys are all packed and can we please get paid now” all while watching him do him a LAME faux Tony Soprano impression and reign court over this PASTA JOINT in WESTLAWN, PENNSYLVANIA. You know… THE BIG TIME.

We kept getting calls to book a gig from the owners at Viva, and we kept politely declining and booking gigs only at Casa. (Strange sense of loyalty I guess…) Well- we soon found out that the owners of Viva- BOUGHT Casa Grande. It seems that the owners of Casa had to sell their place. SOOOO- we ended up booking a job at Viva. We were all prepared to have a similar experience to Casa, but the job was actually much cooler. The venue is set up to better accommodate a dancing crowd (which danced maniacally from song one) and the management and staff could not have been nicer. There was a security guard who just could not stop talking about how great we were. At the end of the night he approached us and said that he’d been working at the club since September, and that he’s seen EVERY band, EVERY weekend, and that we just BLEW THEM ALL AWAY. Very cool. He was saying that the local heroes are a band called Bunchafunk, and that we did stuff that they’d never be able to pull off. “No contest, man- NO contest” he kept saying. We actually played a festival with Bunchafunk YEARS ago, and they were all VERY nice guys. One of their members was at Viva on Friday (checking us out I guess…) and was very cool to talk to. I don’t remember TOO much about his band, but I remember not being blown away by ANYBODY at that festival.

While we were packing up, and the security guy was espousing our funk competence, I asked if we could load OUT through the front entrance, seeing as the club was now empty. (Viva has a strict policy that NO GEAR is to come in through the front doors; ALL BANDS must use the side kitchen entrance.) Loading in involved a freight elevator that was OK, but time consuming. The guy said that sorry no, we have to be mindful of the noise and the neighbors. I came back to the band and said that we can’t use the front, because we might disturb Jim Nabors. This prompted about five minutes of Jim Nabors impressions (Sergeant Carter- why is that funk band makin’ all that noise? PYLE!) This was funny enough, but then the security guy came over, and assumed that we were doing “hick” impressions, and said- “you won’t find that people sound like that around here…” I wanted to explain that we were making fun of JIM Nabors, not THE neighbors, but I figured I should just pack my shit and go.

During the gig something transpired that prompted an interesting discussion betwixt Larry (PFA’s sax player) and me. While everyone was dancing, there was an individual that stood out. It was a single guy, somewhere between 30 – 40, dressed in a black t-shirt, black cycling shorts, and a black skull cap. He looked JUST like a reed player I know from NY.

Just for reference, this is Andrij the reed player, but trust me, HE LOOKED JUST LIKE HIM. For about 20 seconds I thought it WAS him.

So this guy was by himself, and all he did was happily dance to his divine contentment. He would jump up and down and run across the dance floor, all with decent rhythm. He did this ALL NIGHT LONG. Now- it was very easy to make fun of this guy, but on a certain level I was COMPLETELY jealous of him. That was what Larry and I started talking about. Here was someone who either

A: Thought he was THE SHIT
B: didn’t care a royal stream of bat’s piss what ANYONE thought of him;
C: some combination of both.

He was going to the club, and he was going to dance by himself and he was going to put on his BEST bike shorts and shirt and FUCK EVER’BODY- I’m DANCIN’! Yeah!

Now- I am so stupefyingly SELF CONSCIOUS, that to be crazy enough, or clueless enough, or BRAVE enough to NOT GIVE A SHIT would be so REFRESHING. Larry talked about how this guy’s reality, is (to the guy) REALITY. Who were we to comment? I also brought up the idea that yeah- a guy dancing alone, in biker shorts, to US looks funny, but to the VAST majority of people on the planet (or throughout history for that matter), his little sartorial and behavioral peccadilloes would be no weirder than ANYTHING else going on at VIVA. Interesting.

That being said- there was another guy, tall, built like a linebacker from 1965, with a barrel chest AND gut. He was wearing a silver shirt that looked like chain mail, hoop earrings, black jeans and cowboy boots, AND he was sporting an impressively HUGE curly mullet. It was as if a band leader/sidekick of an Australian Late Night talk show somehow teleported into the club from 1985.

That guy was just WEIRD.


One more thing. I just spell checked this post (because I spell worse than a thalidomide baby trying to text message), and here were my computer’s suggestions for the word YUTZ:


I believe that a yurt is a type of permanent tent/shelter. Nice.

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