It’s so rare for rock-scene-oriented friends to see me at a live show, much less one in Oakland, vs. my hometown of San Francisco. One pal of 23 years who saw me at last night’s BILL DIREEN live show at Oakland’s White Horse Inn asked me if I’d moved to Oakland. Otherwise why would I be out there on a weeknight, right? I get it. This is what happens when you hit the comfort years.
You also pay money to see guys like New Zealand legend BILL DIREEN once you hit the comfort years, a man who outdistances even me in age by at least 10 years. I’ll let you read about the man here, so I don’t have to explain his pedigree and all the weird and insular kiwi-pop/noise/art records he put out in the 80s. MUSK opened the show – a loud, livewire dirty blues/punk band in the ear-shredding Chrome Cranks/Gun Club tradition. Most pleasing to behold.
LITTLE QUEENIE, a local band whom I totally expected from their name to be some dum-dum Gearhead hot rod band singing about mopars and drag racing, were pretty much the exact opposite: A wiry, two-bass, spasmodic post punk band who came rushing on like feedtime and The Gordons, and blasted through a great pack of two-minute songs in about 18 minutes. What’s more, they sported a rare THREE-GLASSES ATTACK up front: both bass players and the singer were rocking specs. The better with which to see you, my dear. Outstanding stuff – hear more here.
BILL DIREEN, whom I saw play a similar set back around 1993 in San Francisco, stepped up and strummed solo to a somewhat befuddled crowd. His playing and his word-poetry often seemed stream of consciousness, and when he played songs we knew, it was sorta the way Bob Dylan plays his 1960s songs live. Only the words and some occasional chords give up the ghost that this is a song you’ve actually heard before. Direen certainly exists in his own world, and plays the eccentric well. I got rolling with his vibe about midway through and it all started clicking then – and only then. He’s pictured here, a rare iPhone photo of the man in the wild in the 21st century. Why he was playing in Oakland, here and now, is a mystery for the ages. I meant to ask someone.
Oh, and when you reach the comfort years, you leave before Dan Melchior’s finished his first song, because you need to get up at 5:45am to get your kid to school and yourself to work. Right?