Two mornings after the Meat Puppets' Saturday night show at the Varsity Theater in Minneapolis, I am still on the floor!
First off, the Varsity is a very nice venue. It is carpeted, warm, clean, with tables on both sides and above the main floor. It has the ambiance of a jazz-dinner club, which was inviting and frankly, quite a bit better on the feet than standing on the hardened floor of most other venues. As part of the now 40+ club, it was great walking into the Varsity and not fee like the normally out-of-place, maturing, male rock fan, aka "the creepy old guy," (ala Greg Behrendt). Part of my tribe now includes other aging hipsters, and we weathered and peppered-haired individuals were a majority on Saturday!
Ha Ha Tonka, a band from the Ozarks, opened. They played the typical 30 or so minutes, and they had enough diversity and energy to keep me engaged the entire time. Two songs in particular stick out. They performed an a cappella piece, later followed by Black Betty. They closed their set with a country-flavored morsel that was a good appetizer before the Puppets came on.
It has been 19 years since I saw them in the Cleveland Flats at Peabody's Down Under. My head at the time was filled with both Grateful Dead and many punk songs. I was wondering how they would sound after a long break filled with personal struggles. (The Onion did a good interview with them.)
Curt came out, followed by Ted, followed by Cris. I was fortunate to get a space right in front of Cris. They warmed up with a couple bars, then we were Attacked by Monsters for the opener!
Cris was wiry and on fire as he beat on his bass, while Curt played fluidly. Ted Marcus, although not the original drummer, played well with the Kirkwoods throughout the set, which included Up On the Sun, Plateau, Looking at the Rain, Lost, and The Whistling Song.
As they were nearing the end of the show, they pulled out their ferocious jams, a mixture between very fast punk rhythm and psychedelic jams. Those couple of interludes amazed me, and I felt they played even stronger when I saw them years ago!
They wrapped up an encore of Climbing, Maiden's Milk, and Backwater. The latter was their only hit song, but one that many in the audience were excited to hear.
I was gratified to see them play again and with so much intensity!