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Sunday, May 18, 2008

I was at Was (Not Was)

The Mrs. and I caught the Was (Not Was) show at the Wonder Ballroom tonight, and I pretty much got just one word: Wow.

There's a lot more that one could write about this group of highly talented funk-soul connaisseurs from Detroit via L.A. The "brothers" Don and David Was pack a powerful punch, and their front line of lead singers -- "Sweet Pea" Atkinson, Harry Bowens, and Donald Ray Mitchell -- is like a farookin' Roman triumvirate. In a way, they're like Springsteen -- it's easy to write a book-long screed about them, but much harder to catch the essence of their music in 500 words or less.

Danceable? Catchy? Well performed? Incredibly so. But it goes way beyond that -- reverential toward its roots, and deeply poignant, if you really listen. You can dance 'til you drop, and yet those lyrics are about stuff like broken families, the CIA, and the JFK assassination. Some call it satire, but like so much art, it can't be pigeon-holed.

The crowd tonight in Portland was enthusiastic, but stunningly small. People, this is as good as it gets. Before you give up on the current state of popular music in America, you have to spend some time with Was (Not Was). It seemed as though Don of the Wases has some connections in town, and so maybe they'll be back. Next time, we'll be organizing a posse.

Comments (16)

Open the door, get on the floor, everybody walk the dinosaur

They did.

The street named after my dad, too. That one tears my heart out every time.

All I did was listen to the fates.

Dear God, that was spectacular.

Now little bits of Texas are floating up in space.

I agree with you Jack. Was (not Was) are fabulous. I wish I could have gone last night. We thought about it, but ended up with a conflict that we couldn't avoid.

We have two concerts on top in the next 6 weeks. Kanye West June 3 (for my daughter, not me, but I get to go chaperone), and Mark Knopfler July 1 (wife and I) at the Schnitz. If you like Knopfler and/or Dire Straits, you'll find the live shows spectacular. We've seen MK three times at the Schnitz, each time better than the previous time. This show is sold out (as always), but there are face value tickets available in the usual places - KINK website, and Craigslist.

I'm headed up to Seattle to see them. Can't stand the venue they played last night.

The venue worked well for us. Best air conditioning I've ever felt in that kind of place.

Organizing a posse is the right idea, dude, and I'm not being sarcastic in the least. Right now, the potential entertainment options to the average joe are so extensive, even if most are lacking in quality, that the best way to make sure that someone gets a chance to notice a group like this is to grab friends by the lapels and drag them to a show. They'll ignore E-mail and blog posts, or honestly just forget 'em when the concert date hits, but nothing can compensate for "I'll be over at seven to get you, and don't make me kick the door down again."

Damn! I wish I knew they were coming to town I sooo would have been there.

Unfortunately the WW & The Mercury only advertise crap festivals & phone sex so I had no idea...


check out the Don Was channel

Saw them in Portland and Seattle.
Sound was much better than Seattle. Another great show and basically the same set as in Portland.

I chanced to talk to Don before the show and told him I saw them in 1981 in Chicago - he said it was their first gig.

And I like the posse idea - I have a about a dozen of their 12" records, and all the albums and would be happy to participate in a boom-bus posse round-up before their next gig.

Okay, I don't know their music, but you guys have me curious. Which "album" or two should I start with?

I'd start with "What Up, Dog?" and "Are You Okay?"

Unfortunately the WW & The Mercury only advertise crap festivals & phone sex so I had no idea...

It's funny that you should say that, because if I hadn't picked up a hard copy of WW -- something that I don't routinely do any more -- I never would have known about the show.

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