The Cream's birthday party came a couple weeks late this year, at the front end of our great nation's end-of-summer, start-watching-football and stop-wearing-white-pants weekend. The Spin and the Cream being what you might call kindred spirits, we showed up to Exit/In with bells on Friday night, watching the presents pile up — including three huge bags of CDs and records courtesy of Grimey's — even though we were giving the presents away, and not opening them for ourselves. See how much we love you people?
Before the music got underway, we ducked backstage for a bit and saw the biggest spread of Quizno's subs we've ever seen. Nearby, Luke "From Character" Schneider, wearing about as much seersucker as one can reasonably expect to get away with at a rock show, sat prognosticating about Georgia football, whilst Dave Paulson warmed up his frets and Dan Sommers jonesed audibly for a drink.
When we popped back out into the big room, one-man band Shaky Voices, was giving a cross between a Power Point presentation and an open mic performance, wearing a guitar he hardly ever touched, doing occasional drum rolls on a snare propped in front of him and singing his ramshackle bedroom-pop songs along to pre-recorded tracks. We weren't sure what was going on with some of the visuals — the connection between pictures of Tom Hanks and Pavement covers escapes us — but we enjoyed it anyway. More people should write songs about us.
After a turn on the decks by the one and only Doyle "D-Funk" Davis, it was time for Tristen, who's really been one of our favorite songwriters and singers around town for a while now. She managed to pull together a hell of a band for this show — a rhythm section of My So-Called Band's Sam Smith on drums and "The Wizard," Matt Moody, on bass, plus mainstay guitarist Buddy Hughen and very special guest Cortney Tidwell, whose harmonies on "Eager for Your Love" made us all tingly. Two of our favorite singers were singing at our birthday party, so we figured we were doing something right. The crowd, which had reached a nice-but-not-overflowing size by this time, was seriously digging Tristen's agile, forceful pop songs, and so were we.
Earlier in the evening, a Cream compatriot said something to the effect of "I'm really looking forward to hearing Pinkerton, drunk." Judging by the collective roar that greeted My So-Called Band as they tore into Weezer's 1997 classic — fanatically, as if their 16-year-old selves had suddenly leapt quantumly into their slightly older skins — our friend was not alone in this sentiment. Oh, sure, fine, there have been a lot of tribute shows in this town this year, but what's the harm in knowing one more? It was perfectly awesome to see a band playing songs they obviously love to a room packed full of people who love those songs too. And really, while plenty of dudes can probably toss off a "Pink Triangle" or "Why Bother?" that would pass muster, My So-Called Band's attention to detail really put the show over the top — how about a flautist to start "Across the Sea," or a water-gargling cameo to kick off "El Scorcho"?
Shock of the evening: There were many several women in the audience! Singing loudly along to Weezer songs! This is a band that sang about playing with KISS action figures in the garage, after all, so we were kind of expecting to be — to borrow a phrase from Daniel Pujol — "covered in snakes." Ah, the good life. Happy birthday to us, thanks for celebrating with us, and see you next year.