God it’s good to have the whimsical-trio back together: Layton, Art, and Glenn, I think to myself. I can always count on Art and Glenn to be in attendance for a late night of music; our friend Tom Foolery usually shows up when this trio goes on an adventure. Per the usual, the duo-of-fun and I traverse the steps leading up to the bar, order a round of domestics to sip on, perch ourselves at the nearest open table, and perk our ears to the ringing of the nearest tune.

“Comin’ out of my cage and I’ve been doin’ just fine,” the lead singer puts on his best Brandon Flowers impression. Different from the straight-laced Mormon who front’s the bandstand for The Killers, tonight’s singer, Joe Perry, is adorned in sleeve tattoos, a vest (tuxedo-style), and a new-age Homburg hat topping streams of long brown hair. He looks like the lead singer of that one Seattle-based band from the 90s; the group that did “Black Holes Sun.” Although Joe Perry may look like Chris Cornell, the music being played is a hodgepodge of pop music ranging from the late 80s to now.

Yup he sure looks like a rocker, I observe. Of course, Glenn’s making his way to the stage to fill in the free space next to a PA speaker and, also, to get hit on by cougars; they’re plentiful and hunting tonight. Meanwhile, Art and I lay back and take in a version of Duran Duran’s “Rio.” Although it may not be the most vogue song for a cover band to perform, I’ve always dug the tune. That sax solo in the middle is worth the price of admission. Sadly, the quartet on stage (vocals, guitar, bass, and drums) lacks the brass needed to replicate such mellifluousness; however, the lead guitarist plucks the solo in parody and my concerns are placated for now.

Whoa, I perplex. Looking behind the singer, I observe an older gentleman with sticks; he’s having the time of his life. The bespectacled man is besotted as he pounds out a flurry of sixteenth notes on the hi-hat. What I like most about this drummer is this: he looks so candid in his playing that his travails are shown brightly on his face: a face penetrating thick-chalk smoke; a face straining with utmost effort fueled by rhythmic perseverance; a face that belies old age but exudes youthful naivety. Put simply, he’s having the most fun. He’s a hell-of-a-lot-of fun to watch!

Unfortunately, the countenance of the man fronting the stage is one of a too-cool kid. Picture Matt Dillon’s face in The Outsiders, Miles Davis’s stern expression on the cover of the Tutu album, Donald Trump’s face when asked about his own personal views on foreign policy, or, most touted, Hillary Clinton’s face any time of any day ever. What do the quintet of facial expressions have in come? A lack of enthusiasm!

For fuck sake at least pretend like you’re having fun, I deliberate after observing the dichotomy of supercilious egotism to humble exuberance ranging from the bow of the boat to its stern (the stage). This ship is sailing in different directions. The bow towards haughty disdain for the clubs patrons—he barely even acknowledges the crowd—while the stern is picking up the slack, smiling at everyone while sweating a profuse amount of joy through his soaking wet t-shirt.

“He [the singer] definitely looks like he thinks he’s too cool for school,” Art rightfully observes.

I never understood David-Lee-Roth syndrome. Perhaps Joe Perry really is from Seattle. In this case, his predisposed depression—brought on by perennial rains in the Pacific Northwest—mitigates the culpability shown in his current apathy. More than likely, he thinks he’s the shit, thinks he should be playing somewhere bigger, better, more self-satisfying. The band name (Scarecrow Joe) fits the singer well. Sadly, this scarecrow is too stationary to even walk Dorothy down the yellow-brick road.

It’s a shame. Joe is an excellent singer, he’s got the rocker look going, and his band’s support tout’s their musical aptitudes. With added enthusiasm—on the part of the singer—this relatively new cover band will be competing for shows with St. Louis’s top musical acts in no time.

“Hey guys, sorry to be staring at you while I was playing. It’s just what I do,” the drummer informs Art and I that he meant no offense by glaring our direction while thumping along to The Cure’s “Just Like Heaven.”

“Hey no problem. You look like you’re having the time of your life,” Art replies with enthusiasm.

“Keep doing what you do man. You’re a lot of fun to watch,” I add. After a final thanks and a couple of handshakes, the sweat-soaked man retires to the bathroom before the third and final set begins.

“He’s got to be one of the humblest, candid drummers I’ve ever meet,” I share with Art.

“Yea. All the drummers you’ve ever played with either drank too much or took themselves too seriously.”

“Ha-ha,” I respond to Art’s maxim with a chuckle that almost forces the beer out of my mouth. Like when you take your vitamins in the morning and the gag reflux you constantly convince yourself you don’t have flairs up and you suffer to or three takes to get your once-daily-whatever tablets to go down.

So rare it is to meet a good musician, one that’s having fun, staring out into the crowd, and pulling reactions from fans with a tender smile. The drummer gets it—now if we could only get the scarecrow to come to life. Heck, even Chris Cornell smiles while performing black magic, I mean, “Black Wholes Sun” to thousands of sun-deprived Seattleites. But tonight it’s not raining, the moon is waning, the clouds above barely obscure the moonlight on this mild spring evening. All is good. We have our beers in hand, our ears perked to the tenor of Joe Perry’s voice, our faces smiling back at the drummer’s seductive countenance of music-induced happiness, and all we want is a little more from the singer. If only he could drop his cavalier attitude and step into the trance being performed behind him.

“I backed my car into a cop car the other day,” the parody of Modest Mouse’s “Float On” begins.  Did Joe back his Caddy into a Townie Brownie’s cruiser earlier? That might explain why he’s so upset.  I ruminate until the sixth round of domestics kick in and lose my train of thought as that guitar riff sucks me in with its seductive ways (as if taking a lesson from the rhythm section).

Now Glenn and I are floating around the dance floor trying to avoid the bite of the cougar while still ogling at forty-year-old beauties turned coquettes for the night.  Nobody told me she had a boyfriend.  The ring on her finger works as a force field I can’t, and never will attempt to, penetrate.

 

-Layton (5/22/16)

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