The Boyfriend of the Week

October 6, 2006

You know, after writing almost three hundred of these things (!), I can say with all honesty it's been getting harder and harder to find something unique or original to kick down with each time. I mean, how many weeks in a row can I mention some guy's cute butt before the whole cute-butt shtick starts to wear thin? But today, this is all about to change. Why? Because this week's write-up brings us another "first" here at the site. I'm about to do something I have never done before in all the many long years of writing about cute boys (and one cute girl, plus a menagerie of puppets and a zoo animal).

Yep, you guessed it, three hundred write-ups later, this is the first one in which I have EVER had occasion to use the word "glockenspiel" in a sentence. Glockenspiel, glockenspiel, glockenspiel! Oh wait, I suppose it's unlikely that was actually your guess. Instead, you probably thought I was going to say something like, "First ménage à sept!" seeing as how the above photo features seven men. However, though you would also be correct about that, I apparently am of much purer spirit than you. Ya tramps.

Alas, I digress. Glockenspiel! I said it again! Another milestone approached, conquered, and passed. Life is good.

Don't know what a glockenspiel is? Then it's time you hie thee to an Awesome! show, dear readers. Because not only does this wacky Seattle band play one of them crazy thangs, but they play about eight gazillion other crazy thangs as well. In fact, as near as I could tell, as I stood watching them perform live a few weeks ago on a Saturday night, if it was lying around and had the potential for noise, they were picking it up and making music with it. And that includes everything from your standards (guitar, drums, bass) to your extremely not-standards, like the clarinet (an instrument I rarely have occasion to see now that I'm no longer in a high school band), accordion (an instrument I have in my garage right now, that's how punk *I* am), and, quite possibly the coolest thing I've ever had the pleasure of seeing, a theremin.

<dork> Now, I could go on all day about theremins, which I first learned about in physics class about eighty-seven years ago (note: give or take about seventy-three years). I'd never actually seen one played, though, until that fateful Saturday night. You probably learned about them in physics class as well, by the way, however, because you are not a geeky loser like me, you forgot all about them. More's the pity. Since that means you likely have little interest in them now, I'll just throw out the phrase "heterodyning oscillators," and we'll leave the whole discussion at that. </dork>

Who is Awesome!, you may be asking? You mean, besides me? Bah ha ha! Just kidding. (I bet they never tire of jokes like that one. . .) Awesome! is a band. Figured that part out already? Okay, let me take it one step further. Picture this: Take all the members of the band Devo and have them procreate (without women, I guess -- I haven't worked out the kinks in this theory yet) with the members of the band They Might Be Giants. Throw in some maracas, a little triangle, and a set of spoons, and what you'll end up with, aside from what could be some bad-ass postpartum depression on the parts of Mark and Bob Mothersbaugh, is Awesome!.

First, a little history. My best friend from high school, who I recently rediscovered thanks to the Internet and my spectacular skills as a research librarian, has been raving about Awesome! for what feels like forty thousand years (note: give or take about thirty-nine thousand, nine hundred and ninety-nine), and, a few weeks ago, she finally succeeded in dragging me and my spouse out to one of their shows. I'd agreed to go and then had to bail out of at least three other planned attempts to see Awesome! perform, and I knew that barring my being hit by debris falling from space (hey, could happen!), I'd better not stand her up again. She may be the most gorgeous woman ever to walk the planet Earth (trust me on this one), however, I'm also fairly certain she could punch my lights out. This combination is what makes her what the French call "une femme fatale," which, roughly translated into English, means "a femme fatale" (hey, I said roughly translated). I make it a general policy not to mess around with someone who can be described by any variation, foreign or domestic, of the word "fatal."

Anyway, we show up at the Mirabeau Room (incidentally, it was the club's final night in business, which is why we felt perfectly justified in putting our feet on the furniture like the infernal hooligans that we are) and get a table and sit down and pretty soon some music starts up and lots of people we know show up and we're all having a great time. Awesome! is on last, so we're primarily trying to keep our lame old selves awake long enough for them to go on. This feat becomes more and more challenging as the imbibing of potent potables continues.

Hey, and with that sentence, another first here at the Boyfriend site! First time I have ever used a Jeopardy category in a sentence! (Only my parents, fellow citizens of the sovereign nation of Trebekistan, are going to get that joke, by the way.)

Where was I? Okay, so, oh-dark-thirty (military time) approaches, and finally the gang takes the stage. At first, I was trapped in back with my spouse, but it didn't take long before I had ditched that wet blanket (hi, honey!) and worked my way up towards the front of the room. And it was there that my eyes were opened to the greatness that is this incredibly strange and hilarious band. From the back, it's good music with some weird noises in it. From the FRONT, however, it's a bit like watching jugglers toss musical instruments around the room, with a lot of goofy dancing and face-pulling thrown in for good measure. Theater people, I take it. They're all kind of crazy that way.

Note: do not stand in the path of the Blond Guy when he begins to dance.

At first, I was laughing at the song lyrics, which are about a myriad of ridiculous things, though at the moment, I confess I can only recall the song about the horrific nightmare of a world without fruit (pies will be bland, indeed). But, after about three minutes in front, I realized more of my laughing had to do with plain ol' glee. It reminded me of the reaction my toddler nephew has when he encounters a dog -- it's like he can't believe what he's seeing. "Why, that dog is a-MAZ-ing," his little toddler brain thinks to itself. And his response to the amazement is to tip his head back with a barrage of kooky kid laughs, clapping his hands madly to release all the pent-up energy of joy.

Before you turn on your geekometer to run a mass-dorktrometer test on me, though, I'd like to point out the fact that I wasn't the only one reacting this way. As I later remarked to my friend, this is quite literally the first show I've ever been to in which the entire audience was dressed in big dopey grins. Big dopey grins in unison, actually. Unisonic dopey grinningness -- what is not to love about something that inspires THAT, I ask you?

In any case, an extremely good time was had by all, and even though some of us had a little too much fun (as evidenced by our vampiric reactions to daylight the morning after -- hissssss!), I frankly cannot wait to see them again.

But enough about the band. Let's talk about the band members. Woo!

Rob Witmer was the guy I was watching most of the time. Partly because he was closest to me, but primarily because he was the one doing the most switcherooing between instruments. The accordion, the clarinet, the sax, and damn, does this man ever play a sick mini-triangle! As I was watching Rob, it occurred to me that he might be the only person I have ever encountered who could wear one of these and still look like the God of Cool.

John Osebold -- For some reason, I keep trying to spell John's last name "Olsenbold." Why I want to make him Scandinavian, I have no idea, because I think we ladies can all agree that aside from his musical genius, John's greatest feature is his hair, which is long, dark, and handsome, the way all hair like his should be. It's not the kind of hair you often see in Finland. At least, I think if I saw it in Finland, I'd be what classy people call, "taken aback" and the rest of us call, "all 'huh, what's that doing here?'" On John, however, there is no surprise. There is only that sinking feeling you get when you are confronted by an extremely good-looking man and you suddenly remember that you're married and therefore, your options here are limited.

This sinking feeling can be summed up thusly: Nuts.

Anyway, John primarily plays the guitar, but he's also the guy who so thoroughly charmed me by playing a theremin. Charmed me in much in the same way a snake charmer charms the asps in his wicker basket, if you want a simile to go along with this. In fact, now that I think about it, playing a theremin kind of makes you look like a snake charmer, as it involves waggling your fingers and giving a couple of snakelike rods various "come hither and do my bidding" types of motions. And, of course, a snake charmer's ultimate goal is to trick its subjects into making total fools out of themselves, so, since watching John play the theremin obviously turned ME into a totally nerdy idiot (as evidenced by the fact I keep bringing up the phrase "heterodyning oscillators"), I think this analogy works in more ways than one.

In any case, any instrument you can play using just the capacitance of your hands, and not actually your hands themselves, is super cool, and frankly, if that makes me a nerd, I say BRING IT ON, GEEKWADS.

Next!

Okay, I suppose that next up has to be Blond Dancing Guy, otherwise known as David Nixon, if only because he nearly cracked skulls with someone in the audience at one point, making him rather hard to ignore. As I said earlier, if you decide to attend an Awesome! show, do not get in the way of Blond Dancing Guy when he starts to shake his groove thang. The groove thang, as it turns out, ends with a tumbling somersault into the audience, and if you are a dope with a camera phone sitting right exactly in the wrong place, you will stop the flow, man. Do not stop the flow! Incidentally, Blond Dancing Guy (who, I am sure, is already annoyed that I keep calling him Blond Dancing Guy, but I fear he'd be even more annoyed if I started calling him "Nix," which would be my second choice of nickname -- followed closely by CREEP, just for the political humor -- so I'm sort of stuck here) is also one of the main vocal forces in the band, and as he looks ever-so-slightly like Tim DeKay, he is definitely a keeper for a myriad of drool-inducing reasons.

Behind David is the next band member I espied during the show, drummer Kirk Anderson. Kirk was noticeable not only because of a slo-mo sequence in which he fake-jammed his stick into another band member's eye, but also because he remained curiously trapped on stage after the show (lying under his drum set) and appeared to have the serene mental state of a Zen master whilst doing it. He just kinda hung out under there for a few minutes, while my friend and I cocked our heads to the side and looked at him with expressions of puzzlement, and then he eventually got up, tripped his way over the mass of instruments left in a heap on the stage, and exited, stage left. Hmm. An odd one. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Finally, the other three guys: Evan Mosher, Basil Harris, and John Ackermann. I hate to say it, but I couldn't really see these three guys too well from where I was standing, so my comments must either be brief or fictitious. We'll go with brief, since, occasionally, fictitious can get one into some legal trouble down the line. "I do NOT have the tail of a crocodile," Joaquin Phoenix once wrote to me. "You'll be hearing from my lawyer." (Note: I just made that Joaquin Phoenix stuff up. It was his aunt who actually emailed me, and that was about his birthplace, if I remember correctly, not his crocodilian tail.)

Anyway, "Mosher," "Basil," and "Ackermann" are all words that I enjoy saying out loud ten times fast, especially if I say "Basil" the way it's said on Fawlty Towers (as opposed to, say, the way it's said on the Food Network). However, unfortunately, that's about all I've got on these guys. Stay tuned for a postscript -- next time I see Awesome! live, I'll be sure to stand on the other side of the stage and take notes.

Convinced yet that you need to check this gaggle of guys out? What? After ALL THAT, you still remain dubious? Even after the Devo and They Might Be Giants sex scene?

Dude, I give up. You people are hopeless.

Here's their show schedule -- go or don't go. See if I care. Sniff.

MacGyver Factor Score: 99.2974%. Here's why Awesome! scores so high on the MFS: After you watch these guys perform for a few minutes, you come to realize that if MacGyver were a band, this is the band he would be. They're crafty, they're smart, they're talented, and they turn even the most random of items into tools of entertainment -- all they need are coordinating pocketknives and mullet hairdos and they could totally change their name. Now, could they turn a stick of gum, a ballpoint pen, and a panty liner into an improvised explosive device? This remains to be seen. However, I have no doubt that they will continue to surprise and awe me every time I see them, from now until the day their Dentyne Ice and Kotex experiment goes awry and takes us all out. May my death be swift. Or, at the very least, ridiculously hilarious. Amen.


Boyfriend-Related Links

The awesome Awesome! web site
A review of the band in The Stranger
Heterodyning oscillators!!


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