Monday, April 28, 2008

(04.28.08) Recommends:

Ending The Democratic Nominating Process.

Seriously, is there anybody out there who isn't completely fed up with this thing at this point? Look, we're all for having robust debate, and allowing the candidates to duke it out so the strongest survives. Etc, etc. But we haven't learned anything new about either candidate in months. There is this constant back-and-forth about...what? We don't know. It's ridiculous. We're starting to lose interest in both candidates and it's not even May. Having robust debate is one thing, but starting the "process" as early as it was started this season ends up giving people an entire year to forget why they wanted a Democrat in the White House in the first place. At the end of the day, it's not about Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama, as inspiring as they both can be. The Democrats are going to win because the country wants Regime Change. It wants Something Different. But my god -- Clinton and Obama and trying their best to give this thing away.

Somewhere in the Bush, a Gore-ian tale lurks. We hope Clinton and Obama are paying attention.

Sunset Rubdown -- They Took A Vote And Said No -- streaming audio.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

(04.27.08) Recommends:


This has been a month that's tested our mettle -- both professionally and personally. So when our Law School Friend (hereinafter referred to as "LSF") asked if we wanted to partake in a night of K-Town revelry, we knew the perfect antidote to mettle-testing was at our fingertips. That's right: a night of mutha-effing karaoke!

After chowing down on some Korean BBQ, it was off to find, in the parlance of K-Town, a Noraebang.

First up was Bliss.

This place immediately caught our attention because it was a cafe, bar, and music studio. We appreciate that K-Town refers to its karaoke joints as "music studios" because it does lend the whole affair with some much needed legitimacy. No, no, we're not going to imbibe enough liquid courage such that we get up and butcher some classic Billy Joel tunes. Of course not, silly. We're going into a music studio. To record some hit songs. It'll be much like USA For Africa. We're doing it for the kids, natch.

It turns out that Bliss was desperately trying to be fancy pants.

It had all sorts of glamorous signs.

And required patrons to walk above a Japanese restaurant.

And it wasn't just any stairway above a Japanese restaurant. It was a blue-lit tunnel which, there's no other explanation really, must have been inspired by the entrance to Space Mountain.

While we put our name into the karaoke room waiting list, LSF tried to get all serious by pumping herself up by flexing some Karaoke Face.

LSF couldn't hold such a serious pose for very long, unfortunately. Do we have a Karaoke Novice on our hands?

We quickly grew disillusioned by the monstrous karaoke line at Bliss, so we decided to hit the streets and see what else we could find.

We were hopeful that Ob's Cabin could dish out some karaoke (or perhaps some other kind of) delight, but nobody else in the group was willing to stop in.

After some more wandering, we came across Key Center and we figured, with ten store fronts, our odds were pretty good and that one of them would have to offer karaoke.

First up was Gaam.

What do you get when you take a Friday, then add some Upscale Asian Cuisine, and throw in Yakidori (whatever that is) and Sake and then subtract from the equation any presence of karaoke? You get this.

A restaurant with a lone white person taking a picture from the outside looking in. A very strange inversion of the usual Asian Tourists Taking Pictures scenario to be sure, and a bitter lesson to all places in K-Town that don't have karaoke (this part of the blog entry was a joke, for the culturally sophisticated/sensitive among you).

After all this hoofing around looking for some karaoke, we made the group take a breather and grab...

Some donuts. Eat 'em if you got 'em boys.

After the much needed D Break, we stumbled into our second karaoke attempt, a little jam called Young Dong Music Studio.

Unfortunately, like Bliss, Young Dong was just not meant to be. Not sure if it was because the place didn't serve alcohol (of course we do karaoke because we're inspired by the spirit of the music, but come on, we're only human here; we need like one or two other spirits before we're completely convinced we can do this. And anyway, it's a music studio so you have to be completely convinced that you can do it, because there are thousands of other people out there who would literally kill for your spot in the music studio in hopes of becoming America's next singing idol.)

Not sure if it was because 3605 1/2 would not serve us the alcohol that Long Young Dong wouldn't let us sneak in.

Not sure if it was because these two gentlemen -- yes, the two in the background with the Thinly Trimmed Mustaches -- were not having whatever joke we were serving (it should be noted that LSF, too, appears to want nothing to do with the joke).

Not sure if it was because when we asked this girl if we could take her picture she promptly turned around and said something that sounded like "GoawayI'mcallingthecopsnow!"

Whatever it was, our time at Young Dong Music Studio did not last long.

But just when we thought everything was lost, boo-effing-ya: Chapman Karaoke.

Errr, Chapman Karaoke with Accompanying Sundry Store to the Left.

We walked right in, got our own room, made sure we were properly hydrated, and got our karaoke on.

The group wasted no time getting into the karaoke rhythm, displaying the somewhat hard-to-pull-off Standing Karaoke Stance merely one song in.

Can I get a witness...

...there's your witness

It's real. Your faith.

Then it was the ladies' turn.

Can you take it a little higher for us?

A little more?

Final high note leads to The Karaoke Crash.

Duet time.

They're either defending the honor of their families. Or belting out some Jon Bon Jovi. We're guessing a little JBJ.

Peas in a karaoke pod.

Friday, April 25, 2008

(04.25.08) Recommneds:

A Survey!

This is the third installment of the series.

This installment:
Dawn Landes vs. Colin Meloy.

Dawn Landes is playing a show at Spaceland on Monday evening.
Colin Meloy is playing a show at the Henry Fonda on Monday evening.

Who wins out?

Dawn Landes' pros:
  1. The show is free.
  2. Her new album is one of our favorite of the year.
  3. We love blogging about her.

Dawn Landes' cons:
None that come to mind.

Colin Meloy's pros:
  1. We've been on this huge Colin Meloy solo kick lately, listening to Colin Meloy Sings Live! pretty much non-stop for a week now. Then, the other night, while out walking, we noticed his name of the Fonda marquee, so it seemed pretty fitting to go.
  2. We've had this Decemberists-California connection for a while now. Nearly five years ago, when we first visited the Bay Area as part of the due diligence period that led to use moving there, we came with only a week's worth of clothes and a single CD: Her Majesty The Decemberists. We drove around the City, listening only to this CD, and falling in love with both. We're thinking this show would be a good close to an otherwise crappy month.
Colin Meloy's cons:
  1. The show is twenty five dollars more than free.
  2. Most events that we see advertised at the Henry Fonda seem way sketch, so we're curious why he choose that venue.
So, you get to decide. Let us know in the comments or in email which show we should attend.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

(04.24.08) Recommends:

The Dodos at Amoeba.

Yes, so we're talking about the Dodos again today. We'll have more of a re-cap this evening, but we wanted to get video from last night's free Amoeba in-store up while it's still available.

(if the video starts from the beginning, scroll forward to about the 32:45 mark)

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

(04.23.08) Recommends:

Having Friends and People To Look Up To.

So, from Thursday evening to roughly the time we got into our office on Tuesday, we felt certain that we were on the verge of a nervous breakdown. We like to exaggerate our frailties on this blog, mostly because self-depreciation is hard-wired into the DNA of everyone born in the Midwest.

But this was something different. This was the capital r real capital d deal. Periods of hot fever immediately giving way to the cold shakes. Periods of our body literally, uncontrollably, shaking. Periods of walking around with our eyes inexplicably welling up in tears. And our head having that fuzzy feeling that signifies it is soon to pass out. And this would just be while we were, like, walking down the aisle at the market. We had been through an intense few weeks at work and had other outside stressors (all of, and under which, culminated in us perhaps ruining one of the dearest friendships we'd developed in our time in Los Angeles) so we objectively realized that we were just a little stressed out and depressed about things, but still, the way we felt scared the holy hell out of us. And, honest to Christ, it was the closest we've ever come to worrying whether we were actually dying (though, truth be told, it wasn't the first time since we've been in LA that we've been concerned that we might be dying).

We say all of this crazy stuff happened from late Thursday 'till the time we got into the office on Tuesday. What happened to bring about the change you wonder? There were three steps.

The first step. Like most days, we got into the office and went to Fred Wilson's blog. We're not sure when we first started reading his blog, but here's the first time we blogged about it. We've never met Fred Wilson, and even though we live in Hollywood we don't have an ounce of star-fuckery in us, but we're pretty sure it would be a blast grabbing a beer with him. Homeboy is brilliant (and has good taste in music). And not brilliant in some sort of theoretical way, like many brilliant people we hear about, or professors we know. Brilliant in a way where we'll read a completely innocuous sounding post of his, then we'll find ourselves, nine weeks later, out at a restaurant with someone, talking about the internet (note: we, like all bloggers, are totally nerds who actually do sit around restaurants, even in places like Hollywood, talking about the internet, and how it's totally gonna change everything, man.) and we'll find ourselves repeating his at-the-time-innocuous-seeming-but-nine-weeks-on-completely-brilliant thesis. Or we'll find ourselves at the same dinner making some point, and then internally congratulating oursevles on making such a good point and then we'll start wondering how we actually came up with the idea. Oh wait, we'll next think, we didn't -- it was from Fred Wilson's blog.

The point of the background is that we got into the office and he had this post titled Hitting the Reset Button, in which he talks about going through mental health issues of his own over the last several days, and pining for a reset button to hit to get him going again. So we figured, if a Blogging Hero, and All Around Brilliant Dude, and a Guy Who Clearly Has His Shit Together, was feeling a little down and out, we felt permission to have our own recent struggles.

The second step. He also asked his readers to contribute some of their own remedies for the blahs and the blues. And some of the comments killed us including, but not limited to, the following suggestions:

***find a cute little kid with big cheeks and tug on them (we literally LOL'd at this one)
***I play Queens "Bohemian Rhapsody" really loud, just once (we actually tried this one and holy moly, we had a hard time stopping at just once)
***The only prescription is more cowbell (true, dat)
***i usually just do a boatload of cocaine (we, like you, were surprised to learn that George W. Bush reads blogs. Whaaaaat? You're surprised he knows how to read at all? Or is it Jenna with the powdered nose problem? Whatever it is, quit your hissing back there, yo)

The third step. Under the guise of Earth Day (and there was no actual connection with Earth Day, so don't go trying to draw connections, John Forbes Nash style), we started sending our old College Roommate emails recounting some of the crazy characters and encounters therewith from the Old College Days. This turned into a half-day, Battle Royale-style challenge of who could top whom with either the most obscure, over-the-top, or absurd, person, place, or thing from the Old College Days. And while we think we ended every email we sent yesterday with the same closing line, i.e., jesus! we wish we had started a blog back then! -- there is probably only one story we feel comfortable recounting here. It is also a story about which we had completely forgotten until yesterday. That: the power of the internet. The story: as follows.

One night, as is the tradition of wayward College Students, we went with friends to an Apartment Party. And as the night went on, the original group of friends started separating, and, um, certain new friendships were struck. And so, we ended up crashing at the site of Apartment Party. Which meant, the next morning, we had to find a Ride Home. So we wake up, and, err, survey the damage, and find somebody first willing/able to drive, and second who also happens to be driving in the same general direction as our apartment. We finally found that person. She will be called Hamster Girl. An important note so as not to besmirch her name anymore than this story already might: she was neither a reason we went to the party nor why we crashed there. She was just a person driving home in our general vicinity (it actually turned out she lived in our apartment complex; more on that later) and willing to let us tag along; all in all, we should have been very grateful. However.






We opened her car door and got inside and thought we smelled something a little funky. As we strapped ourselves in, almost immediately our stomach began turning on itself. We instantly went into gag reflex mood. Seeing us nearly on the verge of vomiting, she nonchalantly started driving while turning to inform us that -- and we swear on all that is holy that the following is verbatim -- "I should have warned you about the smell, but there's a dead hamster somewhere in my car but I can't figure out where it's at so I've just left it."

At this point in our young lives we had only known "Where It's At" to be a Beck song, and not the Jeopardy!-style answer-in-the-form-of-a-question to: "Things I Don't Know About The Dead Hamster In My Car." From that day forward, we knew, at the least, to ask a few basic questions before entering into a stranger's car. As a side-note, the country's of the world send their best and brightest to American Universities. We hope they, too, become aware of these basic questions to ask.

We, while normally reserved and polite, demanded! to be taken to the nearest Burger King, and ordered this raging sociopath to buy us a Sprite to quiet our stomachs. It was probably no longer than a quarter mile [1] from Apartment Party apartment to our apartment, but we were certain there was no question we would have vomited without the Sprite.

Once we finally get back to our apartment -- the whole ride home with us pinching our nose with two fingers while leaving the remaining three fingers flailing, elbow arched beyond it's normal extension in a dramatic attempt to make Hamster Girl feel horrible, while deep down hoping for real for real that we didn't upchuck -- it turned out the Hamster Girl lived the building across from us. And she told us we "seemed cool" and that we "should all hang out and stuff." And stuff? We had no idea what other kind of dead, but location unknown, rodent chicanery could possibly be hidden in that and stuff but being so stunned at what had just transpired, and desperately seeking a warm shower and/or a Hazmat suit, we forked over our number and got the hell out of that car.

These were the days before Caller ID. Now that we think about it, Caller ID probably existed, but we were poor college saps, so any extra scratch lying around the apartment was inevitably invested in pizza and 32 oz. bottles of the Champagne of Beer (i.e., text books and stuff). So, after regaling our roommate with this tale, we proceeded with an abundance of caution anytime the phone rang for the next two months.


As you can see, after those three steps, it was pretty inevitable that we had no choice but to be over the 72+ hour Depression Bug.

[1] If it was merely a quarter-mile, you're surely asking, why did you stay in the car? A) It was cold out and the sidewalks of the city were filled with snow and ice; B) It was early and we were, how does one say, pretty spent from the previous evening; and C) We were still in such shock that there was an undiscovered hampster corpse somewhere in the car that our neural transmitters were probably going a little haywire.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

(04.22.08) Recommends:

Why Bother?

In honor of Earth Day, here's a New York Times Magazine piece by Michael Pollan (author of, among others, The Omnivore's Dilemma) exploring environmentally conscience ways of thinking. No pun intended, but we really enjoyed this article's energy -- we found it to be an inspiring morning read.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

(04.20.08) Recommends:

The LA64.

(explanation of series here.)

This entry is going to be an LA64 Blast! as we go through a bunch of our favorite things super-quick style (because it will take us a hundred years to get through 64 things if we continue writing such long blog posts about each topic).

#50: Intelligentsia Coffee.
3920 W. Sunset Blvd.

This is probably our favorite picture we've taken since we've been here. There's the awesome medieval style Cheese Store of Silverlake sign in the foreground. There's the awesome Sunset Junction sign in the midground. In the far right background you can see the Griffith Park Observatory. And a little further to the left you can see the Hollywood sign, framed by palm trees. And there is nothing but crystal clear blue skies all around. Coffee at Intelligentsia on a morning like this is why people will always desire to move to Los Angeles.

#49: The Hotel Cafe.
1623 1/2 N. Cahuenga Blvd.

This is one of the more intimate music venues -- but neither a hotel nor a cafe -- we've been to in LA. We've blogged about it previously. We've seen Meiko perform here probably a half dozen times. We've seen Ben Lee perform here -- he only played about three songs, including the finale which he labeled "a march against apathy" and during which he completely lost his shit, playing into the crowd and on top of tables. That single song was one of the most amazing live performances we've ever witnessed. And we've also seen Mandy Moore -- whowhatwhenwherewhy? -- perform here. We don't know if the mix of those acts reveals something secret about us, but we'll continue coming back.

#48: The Franklin Strip
Franklin Ave. between Tamarind Ave. and N. Bronson Ave.

The Franklin Strip is a one block section of Franklin Village. For only one block it has an impressive array of shops, bars, restaurants, bookstore/record shop/art space, coffee shops, and comedy clubs.

#47: Prizzi's Piazza.
5923 Franklin Ave.

Prizzi's is located on the Franklin Strip and is far and away the tastiest pizza we've had in Los Angeles, and rivals any pizza we've had anywhere. We were a bit skeptical when we first entered because all of the best pizzeria's to which we've previously been are low key, unpretentious, hole in the way, neighborhood dives. And this place has really arty decor and comes off as a touch fancy. But if we can all agree that the mark of worthy pizza is if it tastes equally as good when you have it as leftovers as when you have it at the restaurant, than there's not much better than Prizzi's. Luckily for us, it's within walking distance. If you live reasonably near by this is a must must must try.

(04.20.08) Recommends:

Concert Photography, Vol. 14
Wild Sweet Orange,
Los Angeles (Silverlake), Ca.

So, a little over a month ago, the cool folks over at Sneak Attack Media invited us out to see Wild Sweet Orange perform in Silverlake. The band is from Alabama, currently has released one EP. We agreed to go because it seems like bad form to turn down a free show at Spaceland, but our expectations for the show were not terribly high as we really enjoy two of the songs on the EP, but the others never struck us as particularly memorable.

However, WSO put on a very memorable performance. The band, frankly, comes off as a bit sterile on the EP, but they really come alive on stage. They're twangy enough to justify all the illusions made in their promotional material (and twangy enough to justify the use of cowboy shirts).

Note that the lead singer, on several occasions, busted out a pretty dead on Jeff Tweedy Face. Compare the real Jeff Tweedy Face, with the WSO Jeff Tweedy Face:

But they rock hard enough for those in the crowd who are never comfortable with because it's too, um, country.

They were twangy. They rocked. They were, in a word, fierce. And don't think we are going to use one of the hottest new entries in the pop cultural lexicon without proper attribution. As the Fellow Blogger with whom we went to the show pointed out, the drummer bared a striking resemblance to Christian Siriano.

All in all, another fun night of live music in one of our favorite venues in Los Angeles.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

(04.17.08) Recommends:

The LA64.
#51: The Echo.
1822 Sunset Blvd.

(explanation of series here.)

The Echo is another in the Pantheon of LA indie rock venues. We would start this entry off with an exterior shot of it but frankly, despite driving by the joint several times a week, we still cannot actually find it unless there's a show going on inside -- and hence a doorman standing outside. But rock shows are much more fun when you're on the inside anyway. One great thing about the venue is that it's, as the name suggests, located in Echo Park. So before even stepping in, it gives us a perfectly legitimate reason to stop in to the Short Stop, a dive that demonstrates that Neighborhood Locals, Hipsters, and Dodgers Fans are not necessarily mutually exclusive groups. The power of PBR knows few bounds.

We stopped by for a recent Afternoons show. Afternoons is an offshoot of Irving, a band that we really love. Below are some pics.

We really love the following pic because we are always very reluctant using a flash at shows. And luckily for us, this one didn't require the use of a flash because the sheen from the jacket worn by the gentleman in front of us let off sufficient light. We kiiiid, we kiiiid!

Okay, so here's the thing. If you think we're talkative on the blog, just imagine what we're like in Real Life. At one point in the night we took a breather from the joyous music. We started chatting up a friendly-looking female. Then, like 45 seconds into the conversation, we were left with this:

Figuring that we had literally charmed this poor girl to death, we took her pulse. Satisfied that her heart was making its normal tick-tock sound, we put our heads down and slyly bolted the hell out of the venue.

But not before grabbing one more pic of the band of the night.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

(04.15.08) Recommends:

Maps and Legends by Michael Chabon.

Chabon, without question, is one of our most breathtaking writers. We have yet to meet a person who has read The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay who does not list it among their favorite novels ever. Maps and Legends is his first collection of non-fiction. We've only just recently gotten our hands on a copy, but we've already had several of those Chabon-induced jaw dropping moments where we have to read a passage about fourteen times in a row just to fully admire the pretty sentences he can create. Here's an excerpt from the story My Back Pages:

"I started to write The Mysteries of Pittsburgh in April of 1985, in Ralph's room. Ralph was the Christian name of a man I never met, the previous owner of my mother's house on Colton Drive, in the Montclair District of Oakland, California. He had died, somehow or other, shortly before his house was sold. I always pictured him as a stooped, soft-spoken man in a cardigan, scorned by the world, who retreated to his laboratory where he turned into Ernest Thesiger and called wild Transylvanian lightning down from the skies. His so-called room was in fact a crawl space, twice as long as it was wide, and it was not very wide. It had a cement floor and a naked light bulb. It smelled like dirt, though not in a bad way--like soil and cold dust and bicycle grease. Most people would have used it for suitcases and tire chains and the lawn-darts set, but at some point this Ralph had built himself a big, high, bulky workbench in there. He built it of plywood and four-by-fours, with a surface that came level to the waist of a tall man standing. It might have been a fine workbench, but it made a lousy desk, which is how I used it.

I was living with my mother and my stepfather that spring, working as an assistant in my stepfather's optometry office and trying to get the hang of California. I had moved from Pittsburgh in December with the intention of applying to an MFA program out here. At the University of Pittsburgh I'd had three great writing teachers--Dennis Bartel, Eve Shelnutt, and Chuck Kinder--and of them Bartel had an MFA from UC Irvine and Kinder had studied writing at Stanford. Both gentlemen had said they would put in a good word for me at their respective alma maters. I'm sure Kinder did his best, but his effort could not avail, and in the end I found myself headed to UCI.

That winter I had been down to check out Irvine, whose writing program was staffed by a couple of novelists, Oakley Hall and MacDonald Harris. Of the seven first-year MFA candidates I met during my brief visit--they would of course be second-years when I showed up the next fall--all were at work on novels (three of which, by my count, were subsequently published--a pretty high rate). I rode the ferry and ate a frozen banana at Balboa Island, looked at the ocean, and wondered if Southern California would ever feel less strange to me, less of a place where people I would never know led lives I couldn't imagine, than Northern California did. There were lots of young women walking around in swimsuits and negligibly short pants and I suppose I probably wondered how many of them I would never get to sleep with. I was kind of on a losing streak with women at the time. I was in a bad way, actually. I was lonely and homesick. I missed Pittsburgh. I missed the friends I had made there, friends of whom I felt, with what strikes me now as a fair amount of drama-queenliness, that 1) I would never see them ever again on this side of the River Styx, and 2) that they were indissolubly bound to me by chains of fire. My loneliness and homesickness were of intense interest to me at the time, as were young women in short pants, novels, and my eternal-yet-forever-lost friendships, and when I read a page of Remembrance of Things Past (as it was then known), the book that was my project for the year, I felt all those interests mesh like teeth with the teeth of Grammar and Style, and I would imagine myself, spasmodically, a writer. I hope you can infer from the above description that I was not yet twenty-two years old."

Monday, April 14, 2008

(04.14.08) Recommends:

Langhorne Slim, s/t (Kemado Records, 2008).

This morning we opened our email to see that we had received a tax refund. We thought that was pretty much going to be the highlight of our day. Turns out we were wrong. Because when we got home this evening, we opened our mail and discovered this gem waiting there patiently for us. This record officially drops April 29, but we're lucky to have some cool friends who make sure our ears are constantly hearing new, interesting music. It's only the middle of April, but this album has to be considered among the front-runners for our Album of the Year.

When we opened it, we immediately popped it into our computer CD player while we caught up on email. After one listen, we decided we needed to see if it could pass the Driving CD test. After two more full listens, we're happy to report it passed the test. We were actually sad when we couldn't find any LA traffic, because it meant we just had to go home and listen to the CD at home.

We'll try to describe the album a bit, but it's best just to check it out. Listening to it is like when you go to visit an old friend who has moved away to a new city: you meet up and immediately it's like things always have been, nothing skips a beat, and yet your friend has all these new places to take you. A mixture of nostalgia and excitement for the future, I guess is what we're describing.

This album sounds like finding an internet radio station that plays only 60's AM radio songs. It sounds like Kings of Leon if they played only Gram Parsons songs. Or the Shins, if they were fronted by Neil Young. Or Simon and Garfunkel, if they replaced Garfunkel with Jack White. It sounds like "Summerteeth" if it was put out by Uncle Tupelo rather than Wilco, and if Jeff and Jay were replaced by Connor Oberst. It sounds like Ryan Adams, with an editor. It sounds like there's some Marah swimming around in there. It sounds like Modest Mouse run through an Austin, TX honky tonk. Or a zydeco band, if their bus broke down and they were taken in by Silverlake blogger-hipsters (bloggsters?).

Spinning Compass, The Honeymoon, and Tipping Point are all instant classics, and if we can get our hands on mp3 files, we'll be sure to post them. For now go to his myspace and check out what's up.

Langhorne Slim -- Rebel Side of Heaven -- mp3

Sunday, April 13, 2008

(04.13.08) Recommends:

The LA64.
#52: Largo
432 N. Fairfax

(explanation of series here.)

The theme of yesterday was Homecomings. We started the day blogging about the topic, and ended the day with one at Largo.

First, a little about Largo. It's more dinner theater than rock venue. It has a tiny stage and a room with tables to fit about 100. In addition, there is a bar that fits another probably 10 people. The shows are very intimate, in part because the place is tiny, in part because the venue has strict anti-talking policies, and in part because artists come to Largo to push their boundaries and experiment in front of polite and well-versed audiences. The club is perhaps most known for its Friday night Jon Brion residency. Brion has used the Largo stage to introduce to larger audiences the likes of Aimee Mann, Fiona Apple, Elliott Smith, and Rhett Miller.

Which brings us to last night. Rhett Miller is a long-time blog favorite. Here's a old post/ode to the Old 97s that sums up most of our feelings toward Rhett and the Old 97s. We had heard whispers that Largo was closing this month [1]. We had also heard that Largo had called home old favorite Rhett Miller to put on two solo shows before the club closed. Finally, we heard that the set of shows was to be recorded and released as an album; Rhett's personal tribute to his years at Largo. With these facts and rumors in front of us, we headed out to Largo.

Table reservations at Largo usually sell out quickly. So your only hope is to show up and try to get a coveted bar stool spot. With doors set to open at 8:30, we rolled up at 8 and had no problem getting in.

In addition to music, Largo plays an important role in the Los Angeles comedy world. As such, many shows feature both comedy and music. Last night was no exception, as the comedy warm up act turned into something of a Rhett Miller roast. The room was really buzzing with excitement for the show -- probably nobody more so than Rhett.

This night was clearly important to him: his wife was in the audience, he played some of his all time favorite songs that will appear on the live record (off the top of our head we remember covers of Elvis Presley, Bob Dylan, The Kinks, The Ramones, The Pixies, Tom Petty, Simon and Garfunkel, Pete Seeger), and he appeared to get a little misty eyed at times regaling the audience with old war stories both of Largo and of recording sessions in general, including a pretty funny one about a time Waylon Jennings recorded "Old Brown Shoe" with the Old 97s, which led to Rhett playing an awesome version in which he'd start off doing his best Waylon Jennings voice and then would flawlessly and effortlessly segue into full-on Rhett cowpunk glory.

It was a classic Rhett show. We've stopped trying to figure out why he's not one of the biggest rock stars on the planet. We just go and enjoy the shows now, unencumbered by what-ifs and why-nots. And last night, my oh my, it was special. There are few things we enjoy more than seeing great artists channeling their talents in intimate spaces, but when it's Rhett Miller on a night that was so obviously important to him -- well, that makes for a show that we'll remember for a long, long time.

[1] Largo as it as now known is, in fact, closing. However, the owners are opening a larger (and therefore presumably less intimate) space on La Cienega.