Aftermath: Never Mind The Hipsters, Kenny G Blows Us Away
Ed. Note: This is merch from the show and not a poster from Craig's room... we think.
Photos by Craig Hlavaty
Aftermath shook hands Thursday night with Kenny G, a man who has arguably been one of the most reviled men in pop music now nearly 30 years. Why are we bringing this up? It's not to name-drop or poke fun at the man. We mainly feel guilty for being a part of this filthy little cabal these past few decades. See, we have always been taught that Kenny G sucks. From the first time we heard his name uttered in 1993's Wayne's World 2, our brains have associated him with "yuck." Along with Yanni, Michael Bolton, and (to a lesser extent) John Tesh, Mr. G has formed a sort of "Fantastic Four" of ill public repute. It's not deserved either. We can blame hipper-than-thou Generation X culture for that. Of course, in 1992, something like G's "Forever in Love" is going to pale against "Smells like Teen Spirit." That's like comparing a wet dirty kiss from your girlfriend while in the shower together to the polite peck on your cheek from your aunt on your birthday. It's just that in the early '90s, every hipster in flannel felt the need to rebel against something, even if it wasn't something that had no intentions of being a detriment to their way of life. Kenny plays instrumental saxophone, guys. He wasn't trying to write odes to heroin and growing up under Reagan on heroin.
Kenny G is a professional saxman, and arguably one of the best that we will ever see. That's coming from a student of music who figuratively is now just earning his bachelor's after 27 years. Aftermath can call a spade a spade, and hold his fire on something worth his time. We can't muster the blind hatred the way we used to, especially against someone so clear-cut as Kenny G. Anyone who calls themselves a music fan that could sit through nearly two hours of Mr. G's work last night and couldn't walk out with a respect for the man doesn't love music, nor do they know how to appreciate it. Aftermath doesn't like raw onions, but he's not going to call everyone who eats raw onions a dipshit and throw his rusty stiletto at them. If Kenny G gets your rocks off, then damn it if we can't all live in harmony. Kenny G appeared from one of Arena Theatre's side doors in the circular room, with sax in hand. He began playing with his five-piece backing band as walked through the crowd, holding a note for two-minutes at one point. He got close to his fans, showing how effortless sax is to him. Grown men sat up enthralled, and Aftermath even muttered a few exclamatory expletives.
He was gracious throughout the evening, stopping to tell the audience about his instruments and how he now manufactures his own line (available for sale in the lobby). He told us about growing up in Seattle with his longtime pianist Robert Damper, and how he only weighs 132 pounds. He even applauded Houston's Vietnamese food and our vast array of pho houses. We didn't even realize he is 53 years old. He's older than our dad. To G's credit, he doesn't look over 40 or so, even up close. Through songs like "Forever in Love," "Tango," "Silhouette" and "Havana," the man threw down. It was oddly unsettling being in the room with that sax sound because it sounded eerily false, but sure enough that's just how locked on the man is now, decades into his career. On the other hand it was almost too relaxing, and we remember texting someone that we feel like we are "sitting inside a Soma pill."
His massive 1987 hit "Songbird" started out with a solo slow jam and then turned into this huge hulking thing in the middle of the room as the band joined in. We remember saying "Shit yeah!" under our breath at one point, and we nearly slapped our own mouth but we were too buzzed on chilling that we didn't even bother to stop ourselves. It obviously struck a gut nerve with us. Before the show in the lobby when we shook G's hand, we didn't know what to say. He looked us up and down, probably wondering why the dude who looks like Jesse James and that "Bombshell" chick's love child was doing smiling at him. Being introduced by a security guard as "media" probably shocked him too. We finally just said to him, "Don't worry I'm on your side, man. I'm down for the cause." We aren't sure what that meant, but it probably scared the bejeezus out of him, but at the end of the night it all made sense as we walked out the door.
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