Saturday, May 23, 2009

Mike Watt

Before Mike Watt and his band, the Missing Men, come on stage, they pump John Coltrane through the sound system. Seems completely appropriate; Watt is undeniably the John Coltrane of the electric bass guitar.

I put on one of my old fIRHOSE t-shirts and rode my bike down to their show at the refurbished Crocodile Café last night, and while there were few moments when Watt’s singing made me long for the vocals of his former guitarist, Ed from Ohio, pretty much every single second that he pounded on the bass was transcendent. The Coltrane connection was evident: I felt like I was watching a true artist at work, someone who was pushing the boundaries of his chosen instrument to previously unheard-of spaces and places.

I think the main thing was that Watt seemed healthy; last time I saw him, with Iggy and the Stooges, he still seemed affected by the health problems he had a few years ago. Last night, though, he had all that cannonball-tugboat power that has marked his playing from back in the Minutemen days.

He remains humble, too, and still wears a flannel shirt.

At one point, between songs, he said something about the connection he felt with the crowd and how there was this common sense of all being in the same boat ultimately, characterized by something like, “Open heart, open mind, just tryin’ to do what we’re tryin’ to do.”

That sure seems how he’s going about it, anyway.

A pretty good mix among the crowd; lots of aging hipsters and nerds to be sure, but also a fair smattering of youngsters who headbanged and spun to the throbbing beat. Not too many girls—more than say, a King Crimson concert—but overall, his demographic appeal skews heavily towards the XY chromosome crowd.

I rode home inspired by the passion Watt is still bringing at his age (mine, too; he’s also a 1957 baby); man remains down with the bass.


Blogger Deb's Lunch said...

I'm hoping to have a similar experience next Friday - when I'm planning to walk to a nearby tavern and see the Meat Puppets - they're a little younger than us - born in '59 and '60 - but by all accounts they still rock.

6:03 AM  

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