SLCR #163: The Tea Party (November 22, 2011)
You need to know two things about The Tea Party:
1)- I saw them in concert at the campus bar on Halloween 15 years ago. There was a girl there in a Jeannie costume (as in "I Dream Of…") and that remains one of the highlights of my concert-going history.
2)- They own teaparty.com which means that they're essentially instant millionaires if they sell now, and the internet tells me that they're going to. Does that mean we can rule out "for the money" if I wonder why they're back together after a lengthy hiatus?
You also need to know that I didn't feel like going to this show. I often don't; I buy tickets well in advance, and then the day rolls around, and then I think that maybe laying around doing nothing would be pretty good too. It is my area of expertise and I like what I know. But this time, I had never had any interest in going. Mika wanted to see them and I was pretty much just along for the ride. She paid, so I was fine with this.
The opener was The Reason, a band I'd never heard of. We showed up after they were already done. I will assume they were great and will go on to immediate massive fame and will never come back here. I make this joke every time I miss the opening act, I think. And I think I make this observation every time as well.
Given that I wasn't too gung-ho about the show in the first place, we really timed our arrival perfectly. We walked in, took our spots at the back of a massive wall of people, and the Tea Party took the stage about five minutes later. I wish I wrote this review the day after the show instead of six weeks after, so I could document exactly what time we got there. It would be quite the handy time to know.
The wall of people did surprise me. I am not exaggerating when I said that I last saw The Tea Party 15 years ago, and I really don't know what they've done since then. I know there was a lengthy breakup somewhere along the line. I'd ask Mika for details but she's playing LA Noire, and I'd search the internet except I don't really care. As far as I was concerned, they put out one CD that I listened to somewhere around 1996 (The Edges of Twilight – I had to look it up), followed it up with a few more albums that I never bothered with, and then I forgot about them entirely. I figured that's how it was for everyone else too; I forget sometimes that the whole world doesn't consist solely of things that I see and know about. There was an entire sold-out club full of people who hadn't forgotten about The Tea Party.
And these people were drunk. My goodness. It has been a long time since I have been around that many people who were that drunk and that loud. There was shouting, shoving, stumbling, and presumably a wide range of other S-words. I am not opposed to the drink, but if I'm driving, I'm not going to be drinking. And like everyone, my tolerance for drunks depends entirely on my own state. This is a roundabout way of saying that I wanted to stab a whole lot of people by the time the night was over.
Anyway, the show. I wouldn't say The Tea Party was the best show I saw all year, but it might have been the one that most exceeded my expectations. Granted, I'd set the bar pretty low, but as much as I hate surprises, I do like being pleasantly surprised.
The first half of the show was pretty much straight-up rock, which I wouldn't have guessed. Back when I half-heartedly followed the band, they had the reputation for being pretentious. The band was known for incorporating Middle Eastern influences into their music, and lead singer Jeff Martin seemed to fancy himself a Jim Morrison type. But there really wasn't much of that at this show. The band seemed almost laid-back, with Martin chatting amiably with the crowd. The second half of the show did feature more of the old songs that I knew, which was nice, but those songs did kinda drag on compared to the newer ones. At least to me; Mika liked the older stuff better.
Also, there was a theremin somewhere in here, which was neat.
We left shortly into the encore. Being old, I was fine with this, but I would also have been fine with sticking it out to the bitter end. I have to score this as quite the victory for The Tea Party, since I was ready to leave pretty much as soon as I got there.