The Subways: The Losanjealous Review
The Subways played a sold-out show at the Troubadour on August 9. We sent two writers and a photographer to keep an eye on them both and make sure they didn’t fuck anything up this time.
Casagrande was pissed. Not in the British sense meaning drunk. Which is important and foreshadowing. I was in his office downtown – a liver-shaped coffeetable in the middle of four unprimed slabs of drywall. With a view of Macarthur Park. Empty light sockets stuck out like disoriented periscopes. He was relocating.
“You’re three weeks late on your Starbucks review,” he says programming his phone.
“Coffee takes time,” I say.
“And you’re $15,000 over budget.”
He doesn’t look up. “You’re going to review a band at the Troubadour. I’m going to send the Cowboy with you to make sure you don’t fuck it up.”
“Or we take your parking space,” he coolly responds clapping his phone shut and then using it to cut his sandwich in half.
* * * * *
I respected the Cowboy. In the same way you respect a guy who knows a guy who knows how to take a boot off your car. He made things happen. He was the backbone. He grew up in a haystack listening to rock and roll. He ate pig colons and drank Japanese beer. I called it “crazy.” He called it “a profession.”
We met at Dan Tana’s. He was already blitzed. A sixty year-old woman had her hand on his thigh. This was nothing new for the Cowboy.
“DeMarco,” he says warmly.
“What’s this band called?” I ask him maximally dispatching with pleasantries.
“They’re called the Subways. They’re from England.”
Shit. England again. Be cool DeMarco. We down our shots and go next door.
The band looked like: an audience. The audience looked like: a barcode. They looked like they were under the impression that they had paid $20 to enter an exclusive, 800 ft² Ralphs. But they got a band instead. The band looked the same way. I was drunk after two songs so I can’t say much about the music (No he wasn’t -ed.+Cowboy). All I can give is something I call rockpressions:
- If there were a parallel universe where David Bowie had written a song called “Some of the Young Dudes” then the Subways might sell five million records. Unfortunately we live in this universe where David Bowie doesn’t exist.
- In every press picture and video, the drummer is shirtless and the bass player wears cowboy boots. Every single one. There’s a thin line between signature sexiness and boredom.
One of their songs goes:
You are, the sun
You are the only one
You are, so cool
You are so rock and roll!
When Japanese bands write in English this is what it sounds like. Except the Japanese lyrics continue like this:
You are so delicious!
I want to eat you
I am fluffy cat
* * * * *
So I don’t know if it all hangs together but that’s what I got for you, Casagrande. They have a long way to go before they’re anywhere near as good as the Eagles. On the other hand, the Subways are 19 years old and make records. I’m 46 and hanging out in a gay bar the size of a Costco on Robertson.
Joke’s on you, Subways.
(aside: “How’re those onion rings, Cowboy. . . .”)
The Cowboy’s Take
DeMarco met me at Dan Tana’s. Some glassy-eyed cougar was chatting me up as I pounded Jameson after neverending Jameson. “Can you believe I’m 55 years old?” “No you are not.” “Oh but I am.” “Get right the hell out. I thought you were 80, minimum.”
We go next door and immediately belly up for $7 beers. Then I start paying attention to the music. I don’t know how they did it, but the Subways managed to rub me the right way and the wrong way at the same time. I liked the fact that the drummer sported a Brian Jonestown Massacre DVD tshirt. Some of their songs really are not too bad. During one song they sounded like the Pixies for two bars. Then I got a little bit bored. Finally, before night’s end the largely clean-cut and non-angry lead singer (Billy Lunn) had to go and pull the ’smash the guitar’ trick out of his pocket. Oh, brother. Can you believe that shit. Imagine if you will the thought process of the Troubadour Stage just before he does this:
I am the Troubadour Stage and I have been here for four hundred and seventy years. Everybody and their mother has already smashed their guitar on me. Twice. I’ve been pissed on dozens of times. Spat on. Kicked. Scuffed. I’m nearly burned to a crisp once every three weeks on average. Ever since the management hiked the price of beer to $7 a throw I get kicked twice as much, twice as hard. It is not. Fucking. Easy. Being the Troubadour Stage and yet I pull it off with aplomb, year after neverending year. And now here’s this 20-year-old British dude, who hasn’t been angry the entire show, deciding to smash his guitar [photo] on me. Well, I call bullshit on that.
You can’t blame the stage. I’d say the same. I do love the photo to the right, though. Favorite reactions include: (1) person behind guitar smasher going absolutely apeshit over this awkward moment, (2) tall guys underneath balcony: “what’s going on upstairs d’y’s’pose?” (3) The Cowboy™ standing mere feet away from the action, hands on hips having none of it.
The true highlight of the evening may have been after the show when DeMarco and I ventured to The Abbey across the street. Oh my good sweet lord. Not just The Abbey: The Abbey With Bill DeMarco! Talk about dropping acid at the circus while juggling chainsaws.
Photos by Audree.
More photos at audball.com.
Subways cds, if you are a cd buyer. They are considerably more affordable than multiple beers at the Troubadour: