Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Afghan Whigs - NOLA, Carrboro, & Memories of 1999

This past weekend found me for the first time ever in New Orleans, LA and Carrboro, NC. It will come as no surprise to anyone who has been reading my blog posts that I was there primarily for a healthy dose of The Afghan Whigs.

There's just no way I could communicate all of the amazing that was packed into those 4 days of travel - and it wasn't all about the shows. In NOLA, we had a blast rocking and bowling at Rock N Bowl, kicked back with a beer at Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop on Bourbon Street, and grabbed a cafe au lait and beignets at Cafe Du Monde. We cried at the Louisiana State Museum as we watched and listened to the stories of Hurricane Katrina and we treated ourselves to some delicious food at Lilette and Restaurant August. Oh, and I also had my longest run ever - a relaxing 8.6 mile jaunt through the Garden District and Uptown areas. In Carrboro, I shared dinner with two great friends who I don't see often enough - Aubrey, a friend from high school and Christon, a friend from college - and I finally got to meet Christon's adorable dog Churchill. (He's even sweeter in person than he is on Instagram.)

The Congregation pose for a photo outside Tipitina's before the show.
And then there were the shows. Oh, the shows. On Friday night, we were treated to a kick ass time at Tipitina's Uptown, a cool venue with a lot of great history. Unlike the too-cool-for-school hipsters who were mixed in the crowd at MHOW in NY, this entire crowd came to party and weren't afraid to show it (only a few instances of crazy scary fans!). It was invigorating. The extra special treat for the night was that the band wasn't just the band - they were joined by Steve Myers and Susan Marshall. And it was phenomenal. The highlights for me were John The Baptist (which I had never heard performed live) and Neglekted (which was one of the hottest live performances I have ever seen). Greg, Susan, and Steve were electric every time they shared the stage, but when Greg and Susan moved from 66 (the first song of the encore) into Neglekted, I could hardly contain myself. They moved together like magic and their voices melted into each other as if they were one. I was lucky enough to snap my favorite photo of the night during this song. I literally caught the "she blew a kiss..." moment and every time I look at the photo it makes me smile at the memory.

"She blew a kiss..." Susan Marshall and Greg Dulli on Neglekted
The NOLA show was exactly what I hoped it would be - nonstop energy in one of the most exciting cities in the country. Even having beer repeatedly spilled on my head and back couldn't dampen my spirits at a NOLA Afghan Whigs show. Next to me during the show were a husband and his wife who had traveled from Texas (NOT the ones spilling the beer!). He had seen The Afghan Whigs in Austin and Dallas and several times before the band broke up, but this was his wife's first time seeing them live. He was a nice guy and they both seemed to really enjoy the night. I'm glad they were the ones standing next to me as it was a gentle reminder of my Joe and our love. More than once during the show I glanced over at them and couldn't help but think about Joe and what it would have been like to be there with him. He would have LOVED that show and I'm convinced that if things had happened differently it would have been the two of us enjoying that NOLA show together - although with Joe we most certainly would have been standing in the balcony instead of on the floor.
More from Tipitina's - Greg with Rick McCollum, Dave Rosser, & Susan Marshall
After the show Friday night, my friend Erin and I were exhausted. Knowing that we had lots of plans for our last day in NOLA we decided to skip any post show drinking festivities in exchange for some heavenly sleep in our sweet apartment. On our last day together in NOLA we had a knockout breakfast at Surrey's (a recommendation from the owner of our rental), rode the ferry across the Mississippi River, walked down Bourbon Street, visited the Louisiana State Museum, hung out at Cafe Du Monde, went shopping on Magazine Street, and had a delicious dinner at Lilette. It was a full day and went by much too fast. We both plan another trip back to NOLA, this time for at least a full week. With any luck, the same apartment will be available next time we go...
Looking in to the main bedroom from the living room.
The back bedroom & bathroom where I stayed.
It was an old speakeasy (entrance off to the right).
Early Sunday morning, it was off to the airport for me to begin the MSY-IAH-RDU trek. After a short delay in IAH, I finally arrived in RDU and happily got a big hug from my college friend Christon. We got to spend a relaxing Sunday afternoon together watching football, catching up, and hanging out with her dog, Churchill. Then, it was off to dinner with my friend Aubrey at The Spotted Dog in Carrboro before the quick ride up the road to the Cat's Cradle.

Waiting in the line with Christon at The Cat's Cradle.
While we waited on line to get inside, we reminisced about the last Afghan Whigs show we attended together. It was at the Birch Hill Nite Club in Old Bridge, NJ during our junior year in college. We were not even 21 yet. Joe was with us. I kept busy taking pictures which I would later develop myself in my college photography class. I distinctly remember Greg Dulli smoking a lot, having the most fun I had ever had at a concert, and that, in general, the Birch Hill was a dump. The Nite Club is long gone (it's condos now), but the memories of that night are still very strong. It didn't hurt that almost immediately after coming home from my recent trip I came across a scrapbook I had created during college which contained 4 "Afghan Whigs" pages:
I absolutely love this page.
Photos are mine from the Birch Hill Nite Club (Old Bridge, NJ).
Ticket stubs from Bogart's (9/25/99) & Birch Hill (2/23/99)

A Q&A with Greg Dulli I had clipped and put in my scrapbook.
My favorite part:
What are 3 things every man should know about women?
They're always right;
you need them more than they need you;
and when you hang up on one, you'd better mean it.

Pretty sure this is the setlist from Birch Hill 2/23/99
Including a photo I took at the show.

My favorite photo from Birch Hill (2/23/99) - Rick McCollum on guitar.

But enough reminiscing. Back to the Carrboro show.

Here, the opening band is worth mentioning because Wussy had a genuinely fun set. I enjoyed them in NOLA, but even more so in NC. There was an older man standing near me while they played who was clearly there for them which made me enjoy it even more than I would have otherwise. His enthusiasm was contagious and the band sounded especially tight. When their set was done and the setlist was passed my way, I kept passing it right on and gave it to the Wussy fan guy. He took it happily and made his way back out of the crowd. At the end of the night when we left, Lisa Walker was out front loading their van and I made sure to let her know how much I enjoyed their set. I definitely plan on adding at least a few of their songs to my iPhone shuffle.

Wussy bassist Mark Messerly. Love the shirt.
Wussy vocalist/guitarist Lisa Walker.
Lots of talent + a cool look.

Wussy is joined by John Curley for Yellow Cotton Dress.

And just like that it was time for Christon and I to enjoy our first live Afghan Whigs show together in 13 years. The crowd energy was great and in true Afghan Whigs fashion, when the crowd is ready to party, so is the band. Highlights for me included the Best of My Love lead in to 66 and Heaven on Their Minds (from Jesus Christ Superstar) which was the first song of the encore. Christon's favorite AW album is 1965 so we sang extra loud and danced extra hard during those songs. During an especially high energy version of Gentleman, Greg met Christon with one his famous "points" and as he returned from the crowd on See & Don't See we cleared the path and he walked right between us to get back up on the stage. It was all very cool. The final two songs of the encore were Omerta/Vampire Lanois, which I had first heard performed on this tour at MHOW. This performance was just as magical with the yeah, yeah, yeahs of She Loves You literally sending a chill down my spine. I even managed to catch a photo of John & Greg to go along with the one of Rick & Dave I took at MHOW.

At the end of the show, the setlists were going fast and furious so I was convinced we weren't going to get one this time around. I had started looking for someone with a list so I could snap a photo when more lists were brought out from backstage. I was lucky enough to be passed one of the lists so after allowing some nearby fans to snap photos, I gave it (a little misty-eyed) to Christon. With that list we had come full circle in our Afghan Whigs journey - I with my old setlist from NJ and she with the new one from NC. Just perfect.
Christon showing off her setlist from Cat's Cradle (10/21/12)

It seemed like the band was having a blast all night.
My favorite was Dave singing the "Steve" parts.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah...with Greg and John.

Finally caught a good one of Rick Nelson.
And, now it's time to catch some ZZZZZs since tomorrow (today!) is another show, this time at Bogart's in Cincinnati. When I arrive there, I expect it will bring back a flurry of emotions since it was there I ran into my then ex-boyfriend, eventually-to-be-husband Joe just a little over 13 years ago. In anticipation of Thursday night's show I went searching for the setlist from that night (9/25/99) and came across this blog post which lays it out. If this next show follows in the same light, we are in for quite a night in Cincinnati!

Bogart's 1999 Setlist:
01 The Boys Are Back In Town
02 Superstition - Going To Town - In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida
03 Uptown Again
04 Come See About Me
05 Be Sweet06 Neglekted - Do You Feel Like We Do - Nasty
07 King Only
08 If I Were Going
09 Debonair
10 Bad Girls - Title Unknown - 66 - Little Red Corvette
11 I'll Be Around
12 Somethin' Hot
13 Crazy
14 Bulletproof - Baby Love
15 People Get Ready - Faded
16 Who Do You Love - Hot For Teacher
17 Fountain And Fairfax - All You Need Is Love
18 Omerta - The Vampire Lanois - She Loves You
19 Into The Groove - Rebirth Of The Cool - Express Yourself 

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