CRAWL FOR ALL: Judging from the aftermath alone, the TAMMIES
Club Crawl '98 was an unprecedented success. By
9 a.m. Sunday, the clean-up crews had already cleared downtown and Fourth Avenue of most of the intact bottles, but galaxies of glass shards still glinted along sidewalks and in parking lots. Crawlers went a good way towards financing the tobacco industry's legal fund, too--I'd wager the cigarette butts in the gutters outnumbered the city's population. But for the occasional Tucson Weekly tumbling down the barren streets, most of the larger debris had been bagged and hauled away in the wee hours.
In short, it was acutely evident that nearly 8,000 Tucsonans partied hard. I even noticed spiraling gouges in the recently laid blacktop on Fifth Avenue, in front of where the Zia Main stage was set up--the work of some seriously happy feet, perhaps whirling Deadhead dervishes, or serious skankers hepped up on goofballs and Dave's Big Deluxe.
All in all, little harm was done. And there's something gratifying about knowing that so many people came out to support local music, even if only on one beer-soaked night of the year.
Noticeably absent on this fine Sunday morning, though, were any stirrings of life--no traffic, no pedestrians, no cyclists--even Fourth Avenue's sidewalks were cleared of their resident transient population. Downtown was a ghost town but for a very small handful of bleary-eyed breakfast seekers at the Cup Café, and I'd wager that most of them had wandered down from rooms upstairs. The TAMMIES definitely put a dent in more than a few people's Sunday mornings.
For all the Ben Neads and Barton J. Kings waiting to venomously condemn me with further ineptitude and favoritism, I'll admit straight out that I spent the majority of the Club Crawl watching bands I already knew were going to put on great shows, and avoiding small, cramped spaces. And I'm sure that for every great performance I saw there were five others happening somewhere else at the same time. That, my friends, is the beauty of the Club Crawl.
The nexus of festivities, at least in terms of population density,
was the area around the Zia Main Stage, the Rialto Theater, the
Rialto Cabaret and Club Congress. Lori Davidson and her
band started straight up at
Calexico opened the Main Stage with a gritty set, including songs from their forthcoming release, getting started about 20 minutes late to a stiffly sober and somewhat reluctant crowd. Perhaps it was growing pressure from behind, or maybe the encouragement provided by the group of teens who broke lines to stand right near the stage, but eventually the crowd advanced on the 25-foot no-man's land between themselves and the band. With the addition of Howe Gelb and some swapping of instruments, Calexico became Giant Sand. By then the crowd had knocked back a few, and you could feel the party starting.
At around 10 p.m., there was a line down the street to gain access to The Hut as How To Build A Rocketship eased into a space-rock set of Radiohead-inspired proportions. The crowd was just starting to dance as we headed out to catch the last half of The Weird Lovemakers. The inside of the Club Congress was packed, and to my simultaneous delight and dismay, the crowd somehow grew thicker the closer I got to the stage. As I clawed my way into the thick of it, I understood why--the Lovemakers were giving it all and then some. I love that band.
And how about those dapper bald guys? Chick Cashman's Cocksmen followed, looking as good as they sounded. The TAMMIES was their second gig together, and I can't wait for the third. It was a tough spot though, as Al Perry played opposite outdoors. Perry returned to a more countrified, Losin' Hand-era sound for the TAMMIES, leaving Link to the Cocksmen inside.
Perry joined forces with the Phantom Limbs for their opening number, and it was all nostalgia and good times. The Phantom Limbs, with Tasha Bundy on the skins, took longtime fans of local music for a trip down memory lane, while inside Helldriver opened the throttle all the way. As much as I wanted to elbow my way in, the crowd was packed and not budging an inch, so I watched the mayhem from afar. If you were at the TAMMIES Awards night and thought they were rowdy then, I hope you saw their balls-out punk-ass performance on Saturday.
I heard that by the end of the night some people actually were crawling. I missed that, just like I missed the two guys who were parading their matching, bikini-clad escorts around Club Congress. I did mange to talk to several people throughout the evening, though, and the most frequently asked question--other than, "How long is the line?" and "Where are all of these people the rest of the year?"--had to be, "Why don't they do this twice a year?" Food for thought.
READY TO BLOW: The bomb is rearmed and ready to go off. Fans of Cortex Bomb have probably noticed the noisy jazz, prog-rock band has been taking a breather, giving themselves and their fans a chance to recover their hearing. Well I've got good news: Cortex Bomb is back on stage with a mission and a message on Friday, April 24, at the Nimbus Brewing Company, 3850 E. 44th St. Instrumental power trio Willis opens at 9:30 p.m. Call 745-9175 for information.
If the ear-rending skronk of Cortex Bomb isn't your idea of jazz, then the Plaza Suite Spring Series staged by the Tucson Jazz Society has something to offer every Sunday afternoon. This week's jazz in the plaza is provided by eight-piece Latin jazz band Típica Adelante. In addition to gigs at their usual digs, they're making the rounds at a few of the newer, more jazz-friendly clubs in town, including the Blue Room and Wee Went Wong's. Típica Adelante performs from 5 to 8 p.m. Sunday, April 26, at St. Philip's Plaza at the south east corner of Campbell Avenue and River Road. Tickets are $5 for Jazz Society members and $10 for non-members, available at Hear's Music and at the door. Call the TJS hotline at 743-3399 for information.
DOO THIS TONIGHT: This week offers a must-see for all downtown hipsters and their minions: The men who recently brought the "Four Dollar Fantasy" to the Screening Room, Mike Plante and David Bergan, screen a series of short films at 11 p.m. Thursday, April 23, at The Congress Grill, 100 E. Congress St. The "Video Salon" Grill showing is part of the Arizona Film Festival. The showing includes two music videos shot for Bob Log III (of Doo Rag and Mondo Guano fame), one each by Plante and Bergan. Following the screening, Log will perform live in the Grill from 11:30 p.m. to midnight. So far, so good, right? Well here's the best part: It's Ladies' Night, so females are invited to take up with a licorice whip (they'll be provided) and give Bob a few licks while he's playing. Not to worry: He'll have a helmet on for protection.
SWINGIN' S'MORE: Contrary to popular opinion, turns out Tucson loves to dance. The overwhelming response to the recently inaugurated Swingin' Saturday Night series at the Rialto Theatre has led the management to add some impromptu shows, starting with The Heavenly Seven at 9 p.m. this Saturday, April 25. This Phoenix-based ensemble of jazz students has big horns and knows how to get the job done.
Seriously, those in the know say this is "the hepest septet this side of Uranus, Daddy-O!" So slap down your five bucks and polish your two-tones on the Rialto's spacious dance floor. Arrive early for free dance lessons at 8:30 p.m. at the theatre, 318 E. Congress St. Call 740-0126 for information.
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