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  JONATHAN RICHMAN w/ The Subsonics  
  Variety Playhouse  
  Little Five Points, Atlanta, GA  
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The number one rule of opening bands is that if you are an opening band for Man or Astroman, you suck. That's what Brandon told me. He also told me the number two rule of opening bands: when there are two opening bands, at least one of them will inevitably suck ass. We missed the first opening band (Five Eight) but by that logic, I guess they must've sucked since the second opening band (The Subsonics) were pretty rocking.[Tracers and Zythos would disagree here Silvergeek! Check out a review of a Five-Eight show to see the opinion of someone who saw them play. -- Brendan] They consisted of three people. A rather quiet woman playing bass, a really happy drummer standing in the middle banging away (note: drummers aren't usually seen with big wide grins... this woman must be an alien from outer space, not yet accustomed to the culture of drummer-dom) and a guy with poofy hair and poofy clothes and a guitar who leaned into his mic whenever he sang. Every song sounded the same, but it was rock and roll and we licked it up like milk.

The happy drummer woman was the only person with a setlist. She kept announcing the next song right after the last one was finished. But the poofy haired guy would not hear her and every single time, he'd go over and say "what song again?" and she'd yell it into his ear. It was pretty amusing, especially when one of the song names was There's something wrong with you.

Finally Jonathan Richman took the stage. Now I guess if you're one of the hugest influences of the rock and roll era, you would think "Hey, I'm the shit" and play a pretentious wanky show. But not if you're Jonathan Richman. Jonathan played song after song of acoustic melodies that pleased the crowd... songs about being a schoolboy, about being in love, about girls... the silliest songs about dancing in a lesbian bar, and about being 19 and not obsessed with a girl, and springtime in New York City. It was a welcome change: just very honest beautiful music about the ups and downs of life, sang with a lot of humor and a lot of joy.

Musically it was excellent. It was only Jonathan on an acoustic and a big man in the back with a black coat playing drums (and, no, he did not smile at all during the show, which proves that he is a drummer from the Planet Earth). The set up was really simple, but it added to the intimate feel of the show. Jonathan put on an amazing show, moving his hips and dancing along as he strummed away on his guitar. He made faces too. Oh boy did he make faces, and he kept that silly grin on his face throughout the set. Even though he is quite a bit older than the teenage anthems he sings, you don't really feel like he's grown out of his childlike innocence. He sings songs about being 19 in New York, and you sometimes forget that he isn't 19 anymore.

To top it all off, the crowd was perfect. There were college kids as well as older people all standing together. Some were dancing, others clapping, but most of all, everybody was quiet and not talking during the set. It's one of the most well behaved crowds ever. And they clapped and cheered "YES" when Jonathan asked "Want one more song?"

During the encore he played us a song he wrote about the suburbs of Boston (where he grew up). And when he sang some of the lyrics they were so funny cause they were so innocent and simple and I think he kind of thought it was that way too when he said "No really, that's how the song goes!" after singing one of the lines.

In conclusion: The Subsonics rocked, Jonathan played sincere fun music, with many funny moments and many rocking moments, sound quality was excellent, crowd was superb. Definately one of the best concerts I've been to. Don't miss Jonathan Richman next time he comes to town.

Related Links:
  Read Tracer's review of a Five-Eight show.  

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