Sunday, December 29, 2013

Still Crazy After All These Years - Run Westy Run Reunion

Run Westy Run
Kirk Johnson of Run Westy Run

It was a decidedly grayer than normal crowd at First Avenue on Friday, December 27, for the Run Westy Run reunion. Most of the twitter posts seemed to be reflecting either the “homecoming feeling or the geriatric nature of the audience (one from a young guy who probably has political aspirations but apparently no interest in the middle-aged female vote!).

Its been a year of reunions, from Trip Shakespeare to The Suburbs to The Replacements (although come ON, guysstill no LOCAL show? Even DYLAN played here this year. PRINCE is making us PANCAKES in his PAJAMAS, for criminy's sake. Show your homies some love, already.) And it can be true that sometimes its best to just fade away than give a halting hobbly performance that just makes your audience also realize “Shit, we are old, arent we?

But happily, I can report that Run Westy Run put on a very credible performance for their first of two reunion shows. True, lead singer Kirk Johnson didnt hang from the ceiling nor did he stagedive, but then the rafters in the Mainroom are much higher than in the Entry, and while he might have survived the stage dive, who knows how many brittle hips he might have broken in the audience? Best to play it a little bit safe.

Kirk is either taking a little nap or looking under the stage
for his lost youth during a number at the show.

Not that this was by any means a tame performance. Kirk started the show by emerging from a long canoe- (or coffin-) shaped box on the floor as the curtain went up, and proceeded to gyrate around the stage for pretty much the rest of the performance. Lead guitar Terry Fisher, wearing what I swear were identical pants to those worn on an old 1986 taping of a show (faded yellow by this time) intently sweat his way through every riff. If his fingers were stiff from arthritis, I couldnt tell in the least.

Terry Fisher: Plaid worked for him
in the '80s; why change now?
Kyle Johnson was conspicuously absent, and shouts of “Wheres Kyle? from various crowd members went unanswered (even though I do believe they were heard).

Run Westy Run,
The Interior Decorating Firm
Kraig Johnson looked like he was having a fantastic time, with a huge smile on his face I swear for the entire performancewhich Ill mention started late. The crowd waited and waited for the curtain to go up. I eventually tweeted “Still waiting for Run Westy Run. Did someone forget to yell Stop Westy Stop?

Im assuming some of the delay was due to the accoutrements added to the stage: balloons and balls, styrofoam and cardboard (including the aforementioned box Kirk arose from). Throughout the performance a couple people wandered the stage, constructing objects. To what purpose was never entirely clear. It sort of reminded me of their cover art, particularly from Hardly Not Even, but whether that was the intent, only they know.

Really, Kirk, if youre that tired, maybe you should
just lie down? Terry had to escape several
times from Kirks grasp in order to keep playing that evening.
The band covered alot of material from their self-titled album, opening with Dizzy Road, and covering fan favorites Circles of Joy and Mop It Up. It served to remind me how much I had forgotten (sadly I only own Hardly Not Even). However, plenty in the crowd remembered and sung along to everything, particularly those apparently inebriated and rude middle-aged ladies that the previously mentioned tweeter complained of. 

Perhaps that tweeter did experience some abuse. Usually, its young drunk girls I find to be the obnoxious ones that either just shove forward or try to find a gullible young guy to bat their eyelashes at and ask to be let in front by them (Dude, ain't nothin' gonna happen later; shes just using you). From what I saw (the non-verbal “hi! and “hey! great to see you! wave and response vs. the usual wild fan gesturing to stage and “my fans love me response)  these were women who actually knew the band members (and I mean as friends, not biblically). This really did feel like a reunion event, in the sense of old colleagues and classmates gathering. As for troublemakers, the only ones I saw were some maybe 35-45-year-old men front and center of the stage who were still trying to live out their thrash-dancing youth. But, except for a glass bottle thrown suddenly against the stage late in the Westies set, the problems occurred earlier, during the opening acts.*

This was by no means a “perfect show by Run Westy Run, but who the heck was expecting that? It was a great reunion and I think both they and their fans were pleased it happened. I had hoped theyd play Yolk of the Dumb Wish, as much for the title as the song itself (which rocks by the way, even if the lyrics are crazy, to say the least). But that dumb wish was unfulfilled, at least at this show. Maybe next reunion.

Home is anywhere someone
in the crowd throws you their hat to wear.

Why do I feel like Cindy Lou Who when I
look at this? Youre a strange one, Mr. Kirk.

Nope, no signs of arthritis.

Once upon a time, he just wore a page
from a magazine taped to his bare chest.
Now, in his old age, Kirk apparently needs
a little more to stay warm.

Ok, Kraig Johnson (far right) stopped smiling for this shot from the encore, but just for a second.

First opening act, the Goondas. Turns out
theyre going on an undetermined haitus;
this was announced as their last show.
They kinda reminded me of...
Run Westy Run, circa 1986.

Goondas lead guitar. Next Terry Fisher?

Yeah, I took some other pictures of the next opener,
San DiMas, but this one of Cousin It was my favorite.
I actually liked the more flaky Goondas over San DiMas.
(It was the stronger presence of lead guitar I preferred.)

* In case youre wondering, I sipped my one beer of the evening quietly from the front row, behaving myself in a very decorous, dull, non-rock-and-roll way, thank you very much.

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