Note: Such A Night: Recreating the Music of The Last Waltz will be happening again this Saturday, August 23, at Radio Radio in Beautiful Fountain Square. Your ticket benefits Down Syndrome Indiana. It’s also possible that you’ll have as much fun as Jen Bingham, who wrote this Random Review after last year’s show. But we doubt it.
Do you think it would be cool to go to a live show where local musicians reenact The Band’s famous farewell tour documentary, The Last Waltz? If you say no, you are wrong. Did I mention that they dress up to look like the musicians they’re aping? So there’s a person dressed as NEIL DIAMOND, complete with polyester. Also present are Robbie Robertson, Bob Dylan, Neil Young. Plus the crowd and musicians bond during the event, creating a vortex of goodwill and happiness.
I’ve been three times. Last summer’s edition, this time held at The Vogue, was amazing as usual, but also notable for the many excellent drunks in the audience. It’s officially called Such a Night – Recreating the Music of The Last Waltz. Go see it next time! It moves around, having been sighted here in Indy, there in Bloomington, and yonder in Louisville, Kentucky. Proceeds go to various wonderful charities. I have to confess that I want to kill myself any time I hear “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down,” but other than that, this is a great night.
First Drunk Guy
2 out of 4 stars
This guy was great as far as he went, which wasn’t far, since he only gained my attention on one occasion. But he did serve to foreshadow that this night was not just “Such a Night” as billed, but also “Such a Great Night for Watching Drunk People Be Awesome Assholes.” He looked like he was maybe from the suburbs? Does that sound judgmental? Anyway, he was with a small group of people that seemed to be wearing flannel because they’d been wearing it since the early ’90s, not because it’s back in style. It was early in the night and that little gap that’s often right in front of the stage at that point was still in force. He moved out into the space and began gyrating theatrically, delighting his friends and attracting my attention in the same way that a small rabbit would attract the attention of a hawk. I actually gasped when I saw him and turned to make sure my friends could see him. They could. I was with several connoisseurs that evening.
Skater Dude on Meth
3 stars out of 4
This guy may have been in the same group as the First Amazing Drunk Guy. They were certainly standing near each other when I first spied them. And although he was what I would guess as an early twenties age group, he too bore something of the early 90s with him. I got the feeling that he’d listened to a lot of Soundgarden, despite his young age. Not long after the first guy retired from the blank space in front of the stage, Skater Dude on Meth ventured out and began gyrating in a not dissimilar manner. What made him stand out was his incredible staying power. He hugged the front of the stage, dancing like nobody’s business for the entire time the band was on stage. Probably powered, judging by the degree of deadness in his eyes, by meth.
Old Man River and His Harmonica
4 stars out of 4
This gentleman was undoubtedly the star of the evening. He caught my attention instantly with his combo of wiry intensity and his flowing grey hair and beard. Think Gandalf when you think about those two things. When you think about his face, be aware that it wasn’t necessarily visible due to the amount of hair. Also know that when he passed near you, it was likely that you would be brushed eeerily with his wily hair. But the best thing about him was that he seemed to apparate the moment “Neil Young” took the stage, playing a harmonica discreetly near the front of the crowd. Then he spotted an open mic and went for it, climbing onto the stage like he owned it. “Is this supposed to be happening?” I asked in some awe. My friends too were mystified. We got our answer when a security fellow removed him gently from the stage. As soon as the crowd realized Old Man River wasn’t a member of the official lineup he received a well-earned round of applause and hooting as well as numerous high fives and even a hug or two, which I didn’t join in on. My main feeling was that I wanted him to get on stage as many times as possible but I also didn’t want to have any significant interaction with him since he moved with the unpredictable lurch of the professional drunk. I have to admit that when he pulled out his harmonica later in the evening and appeared to be going for another stint on stage, I may have yelled “Fuck yes!” But he was talked out of it by some jerk who doesn’t care about fun.
4 stars out of 4
Beardy Guy appeared as a contender in the drunk guy contest late in the evening. He moved his way up front and center and began turning around to pose for and point happily at his friends. He was pretty sure that everyone in the bar wanted to see him. Then he made the first of several forays onto the stage. He seemed to have a sense that his presence wasn’t really welcomed there, however; hopping up during breaks in the action, posing for his friends and then hopping back off immediately. And then something amazing happened. Beardy guy started to bond with Skater Dude on Meth. I noted the two of them hugging. But only when Old Man River and His Harmonica joined the others did the universe seem to pause and gently demand my attention. As I watched them, I realized that I had once stood in the exact same spot in front of the exact same stage where Beardy Guy now stood. I had been as drunk as Beardy Guy. I had made friends with the people around me, unaware that I was being an annoying asshole. I smiled to watch him. Beardy Guy was me before I realized I don’t want to be him ever again. Despite his winsome charm, the Beardy Guy is unpredictable, dangerous, and incredibly selfish.
Anyway, back to the real Beardy Guy: The third-ish time he jumped on and off stage, his number was up. A couple security guards approached and hustled him out. I was bummed. “He was so happy.” Even though he’d thrown a cup in my direction earlier, he’d thrown it with good aim toward his friends behind me and with such good humor.
Some time later, I noticed him again. He must have made his way back inside with the cunning that only a drunk can muster. He was being cared for by a tall Bon Iver lookalike. As he made his way toward the stage once again, his friend reeled him back gently. “You can’t go up there. Remember? You have to stay back here.” Beardy guy didn’t remember. “Why?” he asked. “Why?” He was persuaded to move away however, and then was passed back and forth among a similar group of twentysomething guys who appeared to love each other very much and all be very drunk, but just not quite as drunk as Beardy Guy.