This is a picture of a swarm of people photographing a dog pissing on a Banksy tribute to 9/11. Banksy pieces were basically made to be pissed on. I was just waiting for someone to come lick the dog piss off Banksy’s wall-piece. And then they’d cut off their tongue and auction it on Ebay for like $10k because THAT TONGUE TOUCHED PISS THAT TOUCHED A BANKSY, don’t ya know?
The Iron and Wine show was kind of like that: pissing on the artist, licking up the piss, mouthwash in the form of song, spit, repeat. The most enjoyable part of this show was that this enormous, gorgeous theater was packed with people who paid a bunch of money and Ticketmaster bullshit fees just to piss all over this perfectly nice man. I think his name is Sam. Sam Beard.
Really, though, Sam Beard brought it upon himself. He strolls out onstage with his eleven-piece band, and they all assume their positions, and we clap for a polite ten seconds, and then we stop clapping, and this is the part where normally a song would begin. But instead, Sam Beard just starts kind of mumbling inaudibly for five minutes, the band stifling yawns, the audience forced to focus on Beard’s ill-fitting pants and the way they give an almost impressive illusion of camel toe where presumably dick should be. Like a Magic Eye poster: squint and it’s camel toe, relax and it’s dick.
Okay, at this point we’re five minutes into the show and I’m cursing the Fox because this is not the first (or even second) time that I’ve seen a dude on that stage moving his mouth and no sound is coming through the speakers. But maybe Mr. Beard will stop mumbling long enough to play a song that we can actually hear.
He does! The band starts playing a thing. It’s something off The Shepherd’s Dog, and I’m privileged to not know any song titles off that album because it’s one of those rare pieces that is flawless from start to finish. So the band is playing, and they sound absolutely spectacular. I’m warm and fuzzy inside. Beard is singing, and he sounds aiiiiiiight, but I still can’t understand a word coming out of his mouth, and I know the words to this song, but it’s like he’s replaced them with a new set of non-English words. Whatever, who needs words, right? I’d say the overarching theme of this show was FUCK WORDS.
The music, though. There was this three-piece horn section led by an extremely tall, lanky trumpet player who was dancing around and rubbing his butt on the other two horn players until they were all giggly. The horns yanked Iron & Wine out of the folk genre and gave it a loungey, smooth-jazz feel, but before it could turn into smooth-jazz-easy-listening (like what your parents listen to), the drummer would interrupt with some experimental tempo that was, like, sooooooooooo 2013. And we in the audience needed that, because we were a bunch of attractive late-20s/early-30s people coming to terms with like, aging and not achieving our goals and shit, and we don’t want to listen to what our parents listen to, we want to feel modern. And we did.
Beard, with his lack of words, lost our attention. Desperate to regain it, he’d try to hold fireside chats between songs. “I love you too,” he’d say to anyone and no one. “Yes, I will play that song for you in a few minutes” (which, tangent: WHAT THE FUCK?! What actual musician out there hears his fans requesting songs from the pit and actually PLAYS THEM? At this point I knew he had to secretly be a huge asshole, because only someone trying super hard to seem nice would do a thing like that).
“Turn the mic up!” someone shouted from the balcony. Alarmed to hear coherent words from the balcony, but not from the stage with the actual microphone, the audience murmured its approval. “What?” Beard said as he cupped a hand to his ear. “TURN THE FUCKING MIC UP!” The audience cheered and cheered. The girls next to me were like, “Is he drunk? Why does he keep mumbling?” and eager to fit in, I was like, “Yeah! Right?”
Beard just kind of stood there and finally launched into a song. The mic was still not up, but it didn’t matter. He didn’t know the words to the song, his song, so he stopped playing it. “Sorry,” he said. “This is a song called…” Awkward pause. He didn’t know the name. “Aw for fuck’s sake,” I groaned. “It’s ‘House by the Sea,’ ya wanker.” I mean, he didn’t know this, but the song starts out like, “There is a house, by the sea…” So like, OBVIOUSLY, it’s “House by the Sea,” but I guess you need to know the words to come to that conclusion.
Eventually Beard kicked the band offstage and tried to have another heart-to-heart with us. “I hope you guys don’t mind curse words,” he said. Like what the fuck is this, an Odd Future show? “Because one of the words in this song is ‘fuck.’” Okay, whatever, call my mom and tell her that I lied about the weed being Matt’s that one time, because my adult privileges were just revoked. Then Beard launches into an acoustic version of Monkeys Uptown. I’m not gonna say that’s an insurmountable fuck up, but seriously, insurmountable fuck up. That is the worst song to play acoustically, it makes the word ‘fuck’ lose all its novelty and power, and at this point I am seriously questioning Beard’s decision-making skills.
Blah blah blah band comes back out. The mic gets turned up! Good thing, too, because we were about to have a mutiny on our hands. We were about to bust out a cane. Like no joke, two more seconds of mumbling and we were going to hold Beard down and shave off his namesake and insert each facial hair into the motherboard of iPhones on an assembly line in China. Take THAT, you 1800s-looking son of a gun.
One-song encore, and we’re off into that sweet Oakland night. I was actually pretty pleased to spend my hard-earned (ha) money heckling that guy who covered “Such Great Heights.” Yeah, he forgot the words to half his songs and yeah, he made a lot of weird gurgling sounds, but let’s look on the bright side here. The band sounded GREAT, Beard’s beard was paradoxically both long and soft, the crowd was cool, and it was surprisingly refreshing to go to a show just to piss all over the musician like he’s a Banksy piece.