Concert-goers sit on the benches outside the Jackpot

Editor’s note: Today we continue our crossover series with the Larryville Hipster. We’ve been discussing our favorite concert memories at some of Lawrence’s most popular venues. In the past, we’ve discussed the Bottleneck, Liberty Hall, the Taproom, and the Replay. This week we reminisce about the Jackpot’s recent history. You can find our accounts over at The Larryville Chronicles.

by Richard (and Chip)

First off, no, I wasn’t at the legendary Arcade Fire show at the Jackpot.  I think I was home with a cold.  But even if I’d been there, I’d probably have been wedged in near the back of the club where it is well-nigh impossible to see the band or hear them properly.  As you’ve guessed from this bitchy tone, I’ve never been a huge fan of the Jackpot as an ideal place to see a show but, my personal criticisms aside, the venue has certainly been very important in bringing mid-level bands to town that would have otherwise skipped LFK altogether, and I hope the new ownership can hold things together down there (the failure to have any bands at all on several recent weekends is admittedly making me nervous). 

So, enough complaints!  What’s my favorite Jackpot show?  I’m going with the Mountain Goats in 2005, a show in which I was lucky enough to find myself wedged into the side of the area in front of the stage where the sound and sightlines are generally fine.   As with many bands, I was a bit late to the party in discovering the greatness of John Darnielle.  I’d seen and loved the Mountain Goats at a 2004 Replay show and you can bet I was now familiar and primed for this set, and it didn’t disappoint.  It takes a skillful songwriter to truly make a crowded room of scenesters shut up and pay attention to your lyrics, but somehow Darnielle accomplishes this as well as anybody I’ve seen.   One moment from mid-set is burned into my memory.  In the midst of a room of well-behaved, politely-listening fans, a young lady near the side of the stage (probably on her way to or from the restroom, if you’re familiar with the venue) was engaged in a cell-phone conversation.  Darnielle, without a word, leaned over in her direction, pressed a finger calmly to his lips in the universal sign of “Hush, please,” and went back to his song.   The woman hushed.   I can’t say for certain, of course, what song Darnielle was poised to play at that moment but I want to say it was “Song for Dennis Brown,” one of those devastatingly precise, sad-but-still-darkly-funny song that Darnielle handles so well:

“On the day that Dennis Brown’s habits caught up with him,
school children sang in choirs.
And out behind the Chinese restaurants
guys were jumping into dumpsters.
And the stench was overbearing,
but they were past the point of caring.

On the day my habits catch up with me
I’ll be down among the jumpers.”

Tough stuff, huh?  But don’t worry.  It wasn’t all bleak.  The band broke out a delightful singalong of “Best Ever Death Metal Band Out Of Denton” during the encore so all of us scenesters could merrily end the evening by shouting “Hail Satan!”  I’m pretty sure I remember Jon Harrison in the crowd, flashing devil horns.

“The best ever death metal band out of Denton
will in time both outpace and outlive you.”

by Richard (and Chip)

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