Editor’s Note: We like to think of ourselves as your source for all things local music. But when we want to learn about local culture, we turn to The Larryville Chronicles. The blog frequently highlights and previews only the finest of cultural events in Lawrence.
We dig their style, and quite often enjoy their company. That’s why we’re teaming up with them for a series about local venues. In this series, we each recall our favorite and memorable shows at venues in Lawrence, Kansas, and post it to each other’s site. Up first, a look back at favorite shows at the Bottleneck. Here’s their account below, and you can find ours over at their site.
There’s nothing like seeing a band in an intimate venue shortly after falling in love with their music. In 2000, I was new to Lawrence and relatively new to Yo La Tengo. I was familiar with Fakebook and I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One, but it was And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside Out that turned me into a real Yo La Tengo fan. According to a meticulous archive of YLT setlists at a YLT site called Sunsquashed, the Bottleneck show in question would have been on April 1, 2000. The first thing I remember upon arriving at the Bottleneck (I always arrived ridiculously early in those days, having yet to fully grasp the concepts of “bar time”), YLT’s Georgia Hubley was hanging at the bar. No rock star pretense. Just hanging and chatting. And indeed the rest of the band was also chatting in the back prior to the show. I even said something (something dumb, no doubt) to Ira. And the show itself? Well, the archives tell me it opened with “Cherry Chapstick,” still one of my favorites, such a sad song of unfulfilled desire (“Someone else’s date, in someone else’s door, there’s a girl with cherry chapstick on and nothing more”), a song that builds to a classic YLT squall of furious guitar noise and feedback. While my memories at a twelve-year distance may not recall the order of the songs that evening, what I do remember is the constant tension of the set, pulling us close with the lovely, lilting slow songs off And Then Nothing, such as “Our Way To Fall” (“I remember your old guitar, I remember I Can’t Explain, I remember the way it looked around your neck, and I remember the day it broke”) and then pushing us back with Ira’s swirling guitar chaos, which (in the world of YLT) is always lurking very close, and sometimes within, the beauty.
Runner-up: And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead/Explosions in the Sky (March 2002)
If one believed the media hype behind And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead, there was a 90% chance that Conrad Keely would waltz into the crowd and offer to fight every man, woman, child, and scenester in attendance at their Bottleneck show in March 2002. And a 60% chance that the venue itself would be reduced to a pile of rubble by evening’s end. Trail of Dead has never been my particular cup of tea (or can of PBR), but I can’t resist a heavily-hyped show on occasion. The expected mayhem never really materialized, of course, but the band did level an assault on the Bottleneck’s ceiling tiles at one point, repeatedly jabbing a mic stand into the ceiling like a spear and pulling a few tiles loose. I don’t remember much else about the show, but I know that Explosions in the Sky opened, which was a pretty great double bill if you dig that sort of thing. (Chip: “I truly hoped to fight Conrad Keely that night, but he remained frustratingly on stage.”).
-by Richard (and Chip)