Written by GE 138.
Why go to LA to see Sparks play? Why the fuck not!! LOL I don't know if they've ever played in Las Vegas before, but I'll be damned if I was gonna wait to find out if they were going to this time around! I missed their residency at some hotel lobby somewhere a few years ago in LA, and I missed the John Anson Ford residency a few year before that, so the thought of missing Sparks' residency at the El Rey Theater was just antithetical to my very musical being. Their new album Hippopotamus, is nothing short of amazing, and for the chance to see it performed live I wasn't going to be deterred by a measly 4 hour trek through the desert from one state to another on a Tuesday night. No fucking way.
I took Erika to Puffy Taco in Whittier, because the last time I went there on a Sunday it was closed, but today we got the full treatment y todo, which was extra sweet because Erika had never been there before. We grubbed and headed Downtown to the historic El Rey Theater, killing time by hanging out at the Five Guys Burgers across the street, getting high, talking to people standing in line to get in, and once we got in, it was great because the room is majestic, all draped in red velvet and huge overhead hanging crystal chandeliers, and the stage had great view lines from all over the room. No seats though, which sucked. We hung around for a bit before the opening act Les Scissor Sisters took to the stage, and I just stood there dumbfounded. 2 girls vaguely looking like Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast At Tiffany's, sitting at sewing machines, miming to backing track songs about sewing and cutting fabric and making clothing. They were probably the shittiest act I've ever seen in my life, and I used to go to $2 Tues. at the Cathay de Grande!! LOL As my mind struggled to find an angle to somehow describe the atrocity my eyes were witnessing, I saw something else that was even more horrifying - the crowd. They were eating it up!! Clapping and howling like they were witnessing Jesus Christ himself spitting fire on the mic, the crowd of mixed up various aged Sparks music fans were just... deeply into it. I couldn't even look at the direction of the stage anymore, because I was feeling nauseous from the musical spectacle unfolding in front of me. Praying for time to speed up, I nursed my drink in the corner of the room recoiling in disgust as the Scissor Sisters finished their act to thunderous applause. Art for Art's sake. Whatever.
It didn't take long for Sparks to hit the stage, thank gawd. The backing members of the band came out first, dressed like black and white versions of Italian gondoliers, and then the Brothers Mael came out and the shit jumped off. Opening up with What The Hell Is It This Time, off their just released album Hippopotamus, the band slowly built up this aural wall of awesomeness that lead to the next song At Work At Home At Play (complete with acapella intro), from 1974's Propaganda album, which was just blowing my mind. They sounded soooooooooo fucking good. I wanted to cry. They played Good Morning, a song I only know from a live album, a bunch more from the new album (Missionary Position, Edith Pilaf, Hippopotamus, Probably Nothing, I Wish You Were Fun) including my favorite song off the album, Scandinavian Design, which sounded divine. Sparks did Sherlock Holmes (NOT the song I wanted to hear from their seminal 1982 album Angst In My Pants), and Dick Around, with the dynamics in that song being handled perfectly by the live band. They were a bunch of young hipster schooled musician kids but damn were they killing every song they were playing. It sounded orchestral... it sounded glorious. If it wasn't for the 2 smelly homosexuals drunkenly dancing and bumping into everybody directly in front of us, I would of been having the time of my life, but these guys were just being overly obnoxious. They kept bumping into Erika, and when I switched places with her and stood there daring them to bump into me, they decided they had better things to do and left. Smart move on their part. Probably saved their lives. I went back to watching the show uninterrupted, and when the opening lines to No. 1 Song In Heaven started ringing out loud, I lost my shit. I wished those gay guys were back in front of me so I could apologize and dance with them, because I was so happy!! hahahaha Sparks sounded amazing, with the live guitars and drums making the techno song sound thunderous and majestic. Right in the middle of the song Ron did his patented sideways smiling happy guy dance, and the place went wild. Then immediately afterwards they played This Town Ain't Big Enough For The Both Of Us, and I died. I literally died.
When I came back around, Sparks was ending the set with that weird duet song that ends the album, with the girl who sang on the album recreating her parts live on stage, and then Russell introduced the band, gave a little 'Thank you' speech, and it was over. The band left the stage to thunderous applause, and we all just sort of stood around going 'what now?'. We were all yelling and screaming for Sparks to play an encore, and after a bit they did, coming back out and playing a trio of songs that ended with them going back to the Kimono My House album for Amateur Hour, which sounded brilliant. Then the lights came on and it was over. Security was pushing people out the door and the place was half empty when Sparks came running out again and played Nicotina. Oh it was perfect. Since the place was practically empty we just walked up close to the band, and watched them play, uncrowded and up close and personal. It was cool. When the show was really over, Erika and I hit the merch stand, grabbed shirts and badges and autographed CD's, walked back to our cars, blazed up and jumped back on the freeway, laughing at the fact that we had just driven out to CA to see Sparks, one of our favorite bands, and now we were driving back, amped up from seeing the band play live, and too hyped up from hearing all that amazing music to sleep. The drive back was effortless, with us making it home just as the sun was coming up, totally exhausted and totally spent but happy. What a great fucking night. Sparks. <3