About a week ago Todd Grant called to tell me about a reunion show for his old band, Compost, explaining how he’d managed to talk guitarist Matt Rutledge and bassist Mike Fratt into playing together one last time at Mick’s in Benson. An hour after our chat, Grant left a message on my answering machine saying that it would be his last performance ever, that he was hanging it up. I didn’t give the comment much thought and never called him back to pursue it further. Little did I know that he might have been telling the truth.
Compost never played a note last night at Mick’s. I won’t go into all the gory details, other than to say that while the band was doing its sound check, Grant made a number of insulting comments about Mick’s owner Michael Campbell over the microphone. Whether he was kidding or not, the crowd didn’t like it and began yelling four-letter epithets back at him. The next thing you know, Grant was calling out someone in the crowd, and then charged off the stage after him, swinging his guitar over his head. At first I thought he was goofing around — just Todd being Todd — but then a table went over and things started breaking. From my vantage point at the back of the packed room, I couldn’t see what happened next. A crowd converged around Grant, and he was quickly escorted out the back exit of the club to much cheering and jeering, while Rutledge and Fratt packed up their gear with their heads down.
I’m not sure exactly what went down moments later behind the club and then in front of it, when I heard pounding on the front window. It was a weird, intense situation. People were running back and forth from one end of the club to the other. And then the police arrived. I’m told Grant wasn’t arrested. From the look on Campbell’s face I’m sure he won’t be playing at Mick’s again anytime soon.
Afterward, Rutledge said, “Well, I guess you got a spectacle tonight.”
“Yeah,” I replied, “but I would have preferred to have gotten the music.”
It would be an understatement to say that Todd Grant has proven to be a volatile performer — a risky bet for any show promoter or club owner. He’s been involved in similar altercations at O’Leaver’s and Duffy’s within the last few months (The O’Leaver’s incident, Grant told me himself, involved him swinging a microphone stand at a table, sending broken glass flying that hit at least one patron. He says he doesn’t remember doing it). There aren’t that many venues left that will even allow Grant on their stage. That said, if in fact we have seen the last of Todd Grant as a performer, it’d be real shame. His performance opening for Dolorean last March at Sokol Underground backed by Tim Kasher, Dan Crowell and Mike Brannan was something special, and I’m told the recordings he made with that band at Artery Studios are remarkable, though it sounds like we’ll never get a chance to ever hear them.
Back at Mick’s it didn’t take long for things to get settled and Jeff Carlson’s new band Sonata Form quickly took the stage, announcing “Todd Grant has left the building,” which received a round of applause. I caught four or five of Carlson’s songs — more on his music at a later date. I high-tailed it down to O’Leaver’s to catch the very tail end of Criteria‘s set. O’Leaver’s had been cleared of all its tables and chairs to make way for the SRO crowd. If you got there late you probably didn’t see a thing, but you could certainly hear it. O’Leaver’s used the show to break in their shiny new PA, and frontman Stephen Pedersen felt the brunt of it on his lips, thanks to some kind of electrical problem that resulted in him getting shocked all night. All the microphones had towels wrapped over them held tight with duct tape in a desperate effort to dampen the electrical charge. Apparently that still didn’t help much. Regardless, what I heard sounded like the usual Criteria rock set — bold and angry. Now the band is off to Europe and London for a tour in the aftermath of yesterday’s bomb attacks.
Meanwhile, back in Omaha, the weekend’s shows look pretty light. Tonight Mal Madrigal gets a chance to try to tame O’Leaver’s red-hot mics when they open for Luke Temple ($5, 9:30 p.m.). There’s also a hip-hop show down at Sokol Underground featuring Buck Bowen and Surreal ($7, 9 p.m.). Nothing’s jumping off the calendar for Saturday and Sunday nights. The Zoo Bar in Lincoln is hosting its anniversary show Saturday featuring Charlie Burton and Forty Twenty. Sokol Underground is hosting a metal show that night as well with Bloodcow. Looks like Sunday is a day of rest.
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