Peter Himmelman 11/11/95 The Backstage Seattle, WA

When I got to the Backstage, I realised that I wasn't quite in my scene. The place was filled with "normal" looking people, the kind who wouldn't understand the concept of driving around the country to see a band, let alone doing it themselves. Being used to being surrounded by hippies at shows, this was quite odd. I also noticed that the stage was a lot smaller than the one at Bumbershoot. At that concert a bunch of us got to go onstage and dance. "Oh well," I thought, "I guess I'll have to stay in the audience this time." :)

If I had any fears that the crowd would affect my enjoyment of the concert, they were shortlived. They opened up with "How Did It Come to This," and I was bopping around within seconds. Despite being literally right up against the stage, I actually had some room to move. There are advantages to a crowd that wants to sit down and watch the show :)

Anyway, I was having a fun time, when he asked if there were any requests. Well one of my favourite songs of all time is "Eleven Months in the Bath of Dirty Spirits" (This is the song that has the lyric "This must be the place where you learn what you would not learn on earth."), so I called out for it. His response? "That song makes me violently ill." He then went on to say that I needed to shed my masculinity and flit around on stage in my underwear. (This was in the midst of a long piece of advice he was giving me, that mentioned my "Blue collar job." Tech support is blue collar now? :) )

After the rant, he launched into Mission of my Soul. About halfway through this version (and the studio version of this song do not do the live version justice at all), he calls for me to go on stage and dance around (No I was not in my underwear; that would make the rest of the audience violently ill. :) ) Another peak was built, then he brought it down to nothing. As is his wont, he improvised a verse. As best as I could reconstruct, this is how it went:

        There's a guy up here
        In a baseball hat.
        He made a request
        I could not honour.
        You think he's weird,
        But he thinks you're odd,
	And now his life will never be the same.
The song went on for another few minutes and about 3 more peaks, before ending. I was told that my free ride was over, and if I wanted to come back on stage, it would have to be in my underwear.

Of course the show wasn't over yet. There still was an amazing "Beneath the Damage and the Dust." to come. The improvised jam in the middle of it blew me away one more time.

After the show, I hung out for a bit. The guitarist revealed to me that they just weren't in the mood to play anything off of Skin; it was nothing like being made violently ill :). He revealed that they were yet another group that goes on stage without any idea what they are going to play and/or how they will play it. Those of you who know me, know that improvised rock is what I live for. Himmelman and his band provided it in spades; on the ride home I noticed that I had the kind of rush that I usually only get from the Dead or Phish. All I can say is if he comes to your town, go see him. You won't be sorry.

Read the next review
Return to the jukebox