There’s this person I know, not terribly well, who works at a national music magazine. Recently, I put out one of those 1-in-76-success-rate pitch letters, thinking at the keys about how I’d turned into a very casual music fan, after growing up as a serious, died-in-the-wool, must-see-shows freak. It happens to many of us, this trend, and I’m not proud about it all, but, hey, we all go through changes. And, yet, the band Viva Voce really just put that all into perspective. This is how.
A friend who still maintains the flame, Jim Utz, mentioned that Viva Voce were playing the Firebird. This was on, oh, Friday or Saturday of last week. I had no idea that they were coming to town, let along were going to be here within a few days’ time. It dawned on me that I’m only skimming the upcoming shows lists in the local papers, and if Eduardo Vigil doesn’t have tickets on my Silver Tray freebie list, there’s a chance that a show like this just sails right n by. Well, the lad was not only good enough to tell me about the show, he spotted a ticket, so off I went to the Firebird on a Tuesday night.
Driving up, it was obvious that this was going to be a small turnout. No cars on Olive and virtually none on the back parking lot. Walking up to the club, about a dozen smokers hung near the door, making the inside of the room even more sparse. When you tossed out the members of the opening band, there were maybe 25, 30 paid customers in the joint, not even including myself, there on scholarship. This was freakishly just like the first time that I’d seen the band; then, they were playing to maybe a dozen people at the Way Out Club, and I loved them so much (and felt so bad for them) that I immediately shelled out $25 for their second and third albums and, maybe, a sticker. It’s a bummer when the bands you love don’t seem to gain traction, but I’d done my part, playing cuts from the group’s newest, “The Future Will Destroy You.”
Last night, that’s all they played. These are lovely songs, but somewhat reserved for the duo, come can really tear into a set when their minds are set that way. But at the ‘Bird, they moved languidly from one to the next, chatting on-mic about their short tour. Drummer Kevin Robinson was a bit more vocal than wife Anita Robinson, who was content to tune, play, tune, play and repeat. This isn’t to say they were dismissive of the couple-dozen fans, either, as they expressed appreciation more than once.
But you did get the sense that Viva Voce aren’t going to route tours with St. Louis as a must-stop from here-on-out. This had to have been a show in which they wanted to play, sell some merch, get the best night sleep possible and then hope for more at the next stop.
Sorry, y’all, I tried. Didn’t pay, but I showed up, that’s something right? And if I’d have known about the show, there would’ve been some extra punch on the radio show, really. (And, you know, there’s always karma. I so, so, so wanted to interview them for thesamefivequestions.com, yet never made connects.) Maybe we’re not supposed to click, ultimately. Some crushes run one way only.
Sigh. ‘Cause I do love some Viva Voce.