Here’s some late comments on last Friday’s Protoculture show at O’Leaver’s that I never got around to posting this weekend. I was pleasantly surprised (shocked?) at the turnout — as many or possibly more on hand than the evening before for NOMO/His Name Is Alive. Certainly more than their debut gig a few months back, that was lightly attended. How many people were there to see opener Her Flyaway Manner is hard to say, though the place was packed when Protoculture got things rolling at around 11:30. Needless to say, this gig was hands down better than the first one, when they were probably nervous to be playing for the first time in years. Friday night was more relaxed, maybe too relaxed. The set started out strong, with Koly Walter and Erica Hanton in fine voice. Then came the moment of truth about halfway through the set. “This next song is called ‘My New Laugh,'” announced Koly to a smattering of applause and hoots. With that, Clayton Petersen played the tinkling intro on guitar and Erica ripped into the vocals, making their way to the explosive chorus MY NEW LAUGH WILL KILL YOUR SMILE. And then right before the second verse they stopped. What happened? Someone turned to me and said “He broke a string.” A moment later and they got it going again, but instead of starting over, they proceeded with the second verse. So I sort of got my wish, having wanted to hear that song performed live for years. The rest of the set took on a wonky tone. Songs started, then stopped, followed by more whooping (Erica had to tune her bass). It sort of had a band practice vibe, which wasn’t all that bad. In some respects, it took the edge off and was more fun. Still, I’m waiting for that perfect Protoculture show, where all the stars align and the spirits of past New Wave/No Wave artists appear out of the smoky ether to take a seat and watch with nodding respect. That time will come.
Tonight at O’Leaver’s, The Show Is the Rainbow opens for underground/outsider comedian Neil Hamburger. I’ve heard some of Hamburger’s schtick, including his Letterman appearance. He’s Kaufmanesque in his “laugh at me not with me” style of performance art — an anti-comic whose gig is to be so bad that he’s good — i.e., the Tony Clifton of stand-up comedy. I suspect this will be packed. What will Darren Keen and The Show Is the Rainbow do to unsettle Hamburger and his audience? That’s worth seeing all by itself. $5, 9:30 p.m.
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