Gimme Some Money

I had imagined that this post would be a review of Sunday night's "Unwigged & Unplugged" concert at the Ryman. For those not in the know, Christopher Guest, Michael McKean and Harry Shearer are currently on tour performing songs from This Is Spinal Tap and A Mighty Wind, among other material. And I was really looking forward to seeing them... right up until the point that I realized by the time Ticketmaster's "service" fees were added, the tickets would be just shy of seventy bucks a pop. As much as I loved Spinal Tap (and really liked A Mighty Wind), the price of admission was just too rich for my blood. I mean, Flight Of The Conchords only set me back $35. Now I realize there's only two of them, but it hardly seems like hearing "Big Bottom" on acoustic guitars was worth twice what I paid to see everyone's favorite Kiwis turning "Sugalumps" into a slow jam.

So instead, I'll reminisce about the time I saw Spinal Tap at Starwood Ampitheater back in 1992. I remember my friend and I had bought lawn tickets, but apparently demand didn't come close to meeting capacity. We arrived to find the hill roped off, and ushers directing us to the reserved seating area. Even after getting all the general admission folks under the shed, the place was half full at best. It wasn't quite like when they played the amusement park and debuted their "new direction" after Nigel left in the movie, but it was close.

The show however was fantastic. It was chalk full of all the ridiculous 80's heavy metal cliches that made the movie so great. Derek got stuck in a pod during "Rock and Roll Creation." Nigel played the guitar with a violin during his guitar solo, then threw horseshoes around it. And when it came time for "Stonehendge," a UPS guy delivered the still too small model of the monument. But undoubtedly the highlight occurred during "Break Like The Wind." The band brought out Bela Fleck as a special guest, and during an extended solo, Bela proved that it is absolutely possible to shred on a banjo. Christopher Guest basically broke character and spent the entire time staring at Fleck in amazement.

As great as the show was though, my most lasting memory is the concert t-shirt. It commemorated their single at the time, "Bitch School," and looked remarkably like the fabled lost album cover to Smell The Glove, minus the glove. I spent two years hiding that t-shirt from a feminist ex-girlfriend who thought it was the most sexist thing she had ever seen (I thought it was sexy), and wanted nothing more than to tear is into shreds, then burn it. Luckily it survives to this day.

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