Jon Auer, The Whigs @ Mercury Lounge, 5/12/06
Yesterday, class, we discussed my quandary, and the very difficult choice I had to make last night.
I'm pleased to say that I made the 100% correct decision by choosing go see Jon Auer and The Whigs rather than Guns n' Roses, though I hear that that show was excellent too.
Where to begin? Jon's show was unique. He sounded great, and, as I've mentioned previously, the songs from his new solo album, Songs From The Year of Our Demise, are excellent. [Listen to "My Sweet Unknown" and BUY] The problem, though, was the crowd. I can't believe I'm writing this, but I felt like I was at a frat party. The crowd was 75% Southern sorority girls and frat guys (presumably University of Georgia grads). And while most of the Southern sorority girls were fuckin' smoking, they wouldn't shut up. It pissed me off, and it really pissed Jon off.
After he came into the crowd a couple of times and asked people to keep the noise down, Jon eventually gave up and invited those of us who were listening to join him and his guitar in the hallway by the fire door. Jon's mood seemed to brighten a bit, and he played a couple of songs, including a great Ween cover, before the Mercury folks shut it down as a "fire hazard". Jon went back onstage, played a Joe Jackson tune, and called it a night.
I spoke to Jon briefly after The Whigs played, and he seemed to be in a better mood. I think he realized it was just a bad crowd for a dude and a guitar, no matter how good the dude and guitar. And luckily a bunch of people stuck around to talk to him, so hopefully he realized he had a decent number of people there to see him. Luckily, He also said he'd be coming back to NYC in the near future to play a proper show. Can't wait.
I almost felt like a traitor to Jon by sticking around to see The Whigs, but I knew it wasn't their fault that the crowd wouldn't be quiet. I also knew that crowd noise was not going to be a problem during their set, as The Whigs are the second loudest band I've ever seen (next to Jon's other band, The Posies).
So I stayed, and I'm glad I did. Simply put, The Whigs are one of the best live acts going right now. The best way I can describe them? They fucking rip shit up. I have no idea how long they've been playing together, but it sounds like they've been playing together all their lives. And they play as if their lives depended on it. Pure, visceral, exciting rock and roll. It doesn't get much better. See them when they're in your town, and buy their album.
Lots more pics at my Flickr site (look left).