Last Night: The Gourds at Warehouse Live

The Gourds
Warehouse Live
August 11, 2007

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Better Than: Magic mushrooms in a bowl of Jell-O.

Download: “The Gyroscopic”: Handful of monkeys with typewriters / Will be found passed out in a limousine / So cheer up, the sluts are comin’ / The big orgy just a day away / Wake up with Beatrice in the bushes / Only in horniness will we prevail.

Brad Lidge blew another sure win Saturday night, but we avoided the whole fiasco by going to hear the Gourds. We constantly hear people say they are looking for a hot rock show, so where were they when the Gourds ripped the roof off and the ass out of Warehouse Live Saturday night? After years of packing the Continental Club, the Gourds only drew maybe 150 hard-partying souls to their first Warehouse Live show. Theories for the disappointing turnout abound.

Photos by William Michael Smith

“This show was too early – people who rock don’t go to see shows that start while the sun is still up.” (Maybe.)

“They’re not ready for venues like this” (Whatever!).

“Their crowd doesn’t know where this place is.” (Get Mapquest, fools!).

For sure, everyone who’s ever had a bitch about the Continental Club’s sound should have heard the Gourds at Warehouse Live. The almost-perfect mix gave the band a power that seldom fully translates at the Continental. It didn’t hurt that, for most of the evening, the band was in full-on blasting rock-out mode, but the Warehouse sound system certainly contributed an ecstatic edge to the show.

The thin crowd lent a ‘70s vibe, like a rock and roll show before venues got all security-conscious, people smoking and drinking and dancing down front as others rested their drinks on the edge of the stage while they took photos.

The whole affair just smoked, but the highlight of the evening was the once-in-a-lifetime addition of Houston’s Fried Ice Cream horn section for the final part of the show. Besides a blistering version of “How Will You Shine?” from the new album Noble Creatures, the Gourds also took advantage of the additional instruments to play the Gabriel Garcia Marquez-ish “Maria” and seldom-heard “I Ate the Haggis.”

After the show, keyboardist Claude Bernard was beaming. “We haven’t played ‘Haggis’ for years,” he said. “When these opportunities come up, these special moments, you just have to dive in there and go for it. Playing with that horn section was just exhilarating.”

I saw the Stones’ Sticky Fingers tour, with the Bobby Keyes-Jim Price horn section, when it passed through Hofheinz Pavilion, and this rivaled that show for power and brassy good-time feel. I’ve seen some great shows this year, but I doubt any other tops this one. And I’ve seen the Gourds in all kinds of places, but never with such serious, game-face attitude as Saturday. When you’ve been at it as long as these guys, had all the shitty record deals and endless cheap-motel tours, it’s hard to keep an edge, but the band seemed rejuvenated from the opening notes, infused with some kind of now-or-never spirit. According to Kevin Russell – in Gourdspeak, of course – the current attitude springs from several factors. “We’ve been playing a lot since the record came out, lots of big shows and great reviews,” he said. “So our spirits are higher than normal. We have a bunch of new material starting to come to life on stage, which thrills us a bit more. And we have a sense we are not in the middle of the war, that we have taken a few cities and are looking at the capital, so to speak.” – William Michael Smith

Critic's Notebook

Personal Bias: I’m a sucker for any band that can make stream-of-consciousness lyrics seem to make linear sense.

Random Detail: Kevin Russell’s intro to R. Kelly’s “Feelin’ on Yo Booty”: “I was foolin’ ‘round on the Internet, entered keyword ‘booty’ and this song popped out.”

By the way: Why do so many good-looking women follow a band that often looks as though it wardrobe shops at Dumpster Divers?

Click here for a slideshow.

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William Michael Smith