Thursday, January 13, 2011

To Hell (A) And Back Again

So having made my first sojurn into Los Angeles barely over a month ago, I was given reason to return again just the other night. I'm a big fan of musical comedian Tim Minchin, so much so that I've written a couple pieces (so far) on him for Unseen Films. Seeing as how he lives in London, England, he doesn't make it over to perform in the United States on anything approaching a regular basis. While he is huge over in the UK, and in his native Australia, he is trying to broaden his fanbase. There is a small group in the US who are fans of his, but in an effort to expand that to a much larger number, he is doing a small number of gigs here this year.

Since I follow Minchin on Twitter, I was lucky enough to stumble across an announcement by him that he was going to be playing at a small theater in LA in mid-January. I thought about it for a few minutes, as it was going to be on a Tuesday night. This was apparently a second show, as the first one (which I had missed the announcement of) for the Wednesday had already sold out. My day off for the week in question was going to be on Thursday, so I hemmed and hawed as to whether I should switch my day off, possibly not go at all (quickly eliminated...), or just take Tuesday and Wednesday off and roll that into my Thursday off...which is why I'm writing this now on Thursday, the 3rd of 3 consecutive days off.

I paid for the tickets online at an insanely cheap price (with service charges, still under $50 for the pair), talked to a buddy from work about going, and was set. When Noon(ish) on Tuesday January 11 rolled around, I left for my friend's house. Picking him up, we settled in for the long drive. If you go at off-hours, it isn't really bad at all. Making our way thru the hills and valleys between Las Vegas and Los Angeles, there are some areas that are rather beautiful, especially in winter, when some of the mountains have quite a bit of snow on them. Both my buddy and I enjoy taking long driving trips; many times he's piled his wife and 2 kids into the car and driven back to his native Cleveland, Ohio, and he normally does it in a couple days. That's a one way trip of roughly 2,000 miles...even I think that's nuts. I'll stick with just a few hundred a day, thanks.

Arriving in downtown LA just in time for rush hour, because we were heading INTO LA, it really wasn't that bad. I remember one time driving home from Brooklyn back to my house in Queens (where I grew up in New York), I got to a point on the Brooklyn Queens Expressway (BQE) where Brooklyn-bound traffic coming off of the Williamsburg Bridge was merging with the BQE. I had been travelling kinda slowly, but now it just became a parking lot. The Kosciuszko Bridge, a small span connecting the NYC boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens, lay just over a mile and a half ahead...and I made it there a FULL HOUR LATER. And I still had quite a bit to travel to make it home from there, but that was the worst part of that journey. So I am familiar with traffic.

We were actually moving quite steadily this time, never really dipping below 25 MPH. Finally passing one junction, we were able to open back up again, made it to what I thought was our exit (was actually one early, but a couple small side street diversions later...), and we parked at some mall/parking garage combo thing. We got dinner, then walked the few blocks north to The Largo At The Coronet. Getting our seat assignments from will-call, we still had time to kill before the show, so we thought we'd at least take a look as to where our seats were. Walking thru a door to the theater itself, I practically burst out we had walked in at the very back of the theater, and a mere dozen rows in front of us was the stage! I knew the place was going to be small (having read up on it beforehand, I saw it seated less than 300 people), but it wasn't until actually being in it did I realize just HOW intimate this little gathering was going to be. I was already looking forward to the show; now I was starting to actually get excited about it.

As it neared showtime, we took our seats...only 5 rows from the stage. Very nice. And facing the stage as we were, we were all the way off to the seat was actually up against the wall. The grand piano on the stage occupied nearly 2/3 of the performing area, with the seat off to the left...meaning I would be directly in Minchin's line of sight all evening. Another huge plus. Seeing as how he spends the majority of his performance evening sitting at the piano, I wasn't relishing looking at the back or side of his head all evening, so these seats were perfect.

Then, very quitely, Minchin just walked out onstage. After the applause died down (while it was a small room, nearly everyone there was already a big fan of the man, and with his infrequency of US appearances, it's not often we get to show our appreciation for his work), he mentioned that he normally does big entrances, but since this wasn't an actual tour, he wasn't doing that this time. And then for 2 solid hours, the small group of strangers gathered before Tim Minchin and a piano were thoroughly entertained. There were some new songs performed, along with others scattered from his previous shows. It was a fantastic performance, and it was wonderful to see it in such an intimate venue. Which led to my next decision being made much simpler...

Since I was aware of how small this place might be before we went, I was hoping I might have a chance to meet Minchin after the show. Seeing just how tiny the place actually was, I'd now decided I was definitely going to wait around after the show. Since I had the next 2 days off, and my friend had the next day, it wasn't a problem for either of us. A bunch of other people must have had the same idea, as somewhere between 70-100 people were milling around in the indoor/outdoor lobby of The Largo. After maybe a half hour, out walks Minchin, pretty much right towards where I was...and suddenly everyone else descended like vultures on fresh roadkill. Since I actually wanted to talk with him, more than just be a gushing fanboy, I figured I'd just wait out the fans who wanted pictures and hugs (at one point he said something about he's used to British crowds where not nearly so much affection is displayed), so that I could get a proper chance to actually chat for a few minutes.

When there was maybe half a dozen people left (about 30 minutes after his emergence), he started to put on his jacket that he'd placed off to the side when the meet and greet had started. Realizing this was probably the best time, I swooped in, handing him my business card from Unseen Films, introducing myself, and after getting my compliments and appreciations out of the way, asked him about the documentary film about him, Rock N Roll Nerd. Seeing as how it's only available in Australia, he asked how I'd managed to get a copy. That led to about a 10 minute discussion of how I was writing it up for Unseen Films after getting it as a Christmas present, watching it almost immediately, and thinking it was a wonderful film. By the end of the conversation, I'd almost felt like I'd made a friend.

Minchin is a very calm individual, and will look you directly in the eye when making his point on whatever subject matter. The fact that this is a very personal film, made by a very close friend, and containing some very intimate moments, may have altered his demeanor somewhat while talking to me, but I still got the sense that he is a very well-meaning man, and truly does care what his audience members think and feel. So being able to chat with him about something near and dear to him was a great thrill for me.

After thanking Minchin, my friend and I wandered over to a drugstore, got some cookies and drinks, and headed back to the car...which was nearly the only one remaining on that level of the garage...and possibly one of a half-dozen or so in the entire garage at all. It was just about 11:30 as we pulled out of there, and a few twists and turns later, we were back on the now reasonably deserted LA freeways.

Lots of discussion about all sorts of subjects carried us thru the near traffic-free night, and after a fuel stop in Yermo, CA, I found myself dropping my buddy off at his house at 3:45AM, with only a last 25 minute trip back home. Stumbling into my house at 4:10AM, I realized I'd just driven 600 miles round trip, with a stop for dinner, a great show, and a good conversation with the star of said show...all in the last 16 hours. A couple of e-mails later, and I was in bed by 5AM...and awake at 8AM...and then wound up going out with a friend that late afternoon/evening...where we wound up watching some of So Live by Tim Minchin.

Blog Post Soundtrack; Nuclear Assault, ZZ Top, Clutch, Anthrax (live), Simon & Garfunkel, S.O.D., Queens Of The Stone Age (live), Slipknot, Longwave, The Doors, Pearl Jam, Monty Python, Infectious Grooves, Megadeth, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Dropkick Murphys, Monster Magnet, Talking Heads, Bobby Short (live), Brant Bjork, MC5, Metallica (live), Social Distortion, Santana, Corrosion Of Conformity, Fugazi, Desert Sessions, Tricky,

No comments:

Post a Comment