A Gain in Gainesville, Day 6

Monday marked my last appearance at the Laboratory Open Mic, again called “I Love Dog” as we again watched a full episode of Dog the Bounty Hunter to kick it off. That long blacklit room glowed with warmth despite a smaller audience – I shall miss it greatly as I head off Westwards. I went alone this time, but now that I know all the regulars we made our comments to each other. Really, I was becoming something of a regular.

As per usual the Reverend Angel Dust opened our Tabernacle of Hedonism with a “benediction.” Creative and humourous as always, this iteration rang disappointingly similar to last weeks, with a substitution of a bible verse and a digression into Martin Luther King Jr.’s desires for his notes on Phoenix. He read rather far into Jesus’ making his listeners sit on the green grass and thereby extolled the holy virtues of weed once again. “There is always something bbetter on the next semi from California.” Our small crowd responded more vocally than ever before, with loud echoes of “Hallelujah!” and clapping. We paid respects to Dr. King, or Dear old Martin as the Reverend proclaimed him with a rousing chorus of the value of tolerance – something very much in effect especially at this Open Mic and why I love it so. He closed with “If you die under the influence you will not be unhappy on your dying day.”

Frog took the stage in another absurd costume – a white haired gremlin mask over flowing white robes. A middle aged lady accompanied him this time, svelte and strangely elegant in her sparkling gold dress, face hidden by a green bird mask. They played music this time. A mix of the woman’s vocoded vocals (as pitch corrected live by Frog) and Frog’s synth. Quite pretty – a sort of ambient electronic music Geoffrey may have gone wild over.

Around this time I was recognized by my older brother’s best friend from middle school – a feat which impressed me significantly as the last time he’d seen me I was somewhere around three foot tall and still good looking (as Kevin likes to say – “You were adorable once, what happened?”. He’d later regale me with tales of their escapades, that alone making the night unforgettable. Chase once again hosted a viewing of some YouTube videos – an entertaining set of ridiculous advertisements this time for the GoPhone, All State, Zazoo Condoms, Mastercard, and Suburban Auto Group’s Trunk Monkey. Bongo Boy drummed along while Chase commented, a little lighter on the mic than the previous week.

Helen opened a musical portion of the show. This night saw more musical acts than any other I’d yet seen. Her first song was a brilliant cover of Broken Bell’s October in her trademark operatic voice. She followed this with a very sacrilegious Mad Lib. She took a hymn version of Psalm 23 and substituted the audience’s raunchy adjectives, verbs and nouns (we’d no prior knowledge to what she was affixing these words), and sang it a capella with ample giggling breaks. The audience roared after “Thou has anointed my penis with oil and my condom is full… And I will dwell in the house of Tom Miller forever.”

Only got the first one, regrettably.

Don Undine took the stage next as Tom’s “guest” of the night. After fake checking the mics to see if they got a response he suddenly burst out loudly on his baritone sax, overblowing the shit out of it with a mix of fog horn sounds, goose honks and high flourishes all at once, rocking energetically about on stage on feet placed far apart in a fighter’s stance. He played and played, playing on as he wandered off stage and out the door to the bathroom where he continued to play still audible to us for another minute. Great fun.

Dave and Jesse, middle aged mostly ex-boyfriends who quarreled on stage in an endearing fashion, captained the stage for a trio of covers where Dave continually messed up the chords on his guitar and Jesse broke of his vocals to berate him. They tried a few songs a number of times, only almost completing Jack Johnson’s Flake. Dave then led the room in Margaritaville, alone. Interestingly enough, as Jesse pointed out loudly, he didn’t flub a chord or get tired for his solo song.

Tom Miller announced that “the show is just starting to get good” just as Chase sat on the table behind him and broke it, such that his next words got lost in general hilarity. Tom would later break the mic stand. For whatever reason he apologized throughout the night a number of times to me, directly – for the foulness of the language and with a sad sarcastic, “I know you wanted to play for as few people as possible, well I’m doing my best to accomplish that aren’t I.” Do I look that innocent?

He gave the stage to David, next, Chase’s brother who began his Broadway night with a beautifully strong karaoke rendition of Children of Israel. He followed this up with “hand dancing” to All I Ask of You, an uncommonly beautiful interpretive miming style before selling me completely with his encore performance, a much requested by the audience Lady Gaga:

A hard act to follow, but I followed nonetheless with an ambitious set. The support in that room felt so wonderful I decided to debut a song, Will. And to great success. I held the audience rapt, the owner and Dave especially smiling and following me in their eyes – in an unconscious body language sort of way I could feel they were all with me. It was such a beautiful thing.

Mystic Mike played Native American flute improvisations. He had us drum out rhythms for him which Chase echoed on the Bongo, mostly to hide his nervousness and to give us something to do. I rather enjoyed myself making up strange beats. By the last song he’d mustered sufficient confidence to play entirely solo, channeling the loss of a girl in a simple, raw melody, where his amateurism really shone as a strange, heartlfelt asset. James closed the night with his usual fumbling for things and feedback punctuated by loud shrill noises before singing a set of Wilco-esque originals with surprisingly strong vocals. More on him tomorrow.

Hobo Joe introduced himself to me while I received many rounds of applause. Having announced I would not return the next week, many sought my info after the show, for collaboration or encouragement or just general friendliness. Gainesville’s underbelly may feel quite strange, but above all it embraces everyone and leaves me wishing I didn’t have to quit it quite so soon.

Song of the Day: Will – Terrence Ho

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