Okay, this is how it works: Crankypants sent me a couple CDs. I don’t like owing people, so I had to find some goodies for her. She’s quite taken with Darren Hanlon these days, so I went down to his Southgate House show to see if I could find some Hanlon-related merchandise to even up the score. He’s going to be playing in Philadelphia in a couple weeks, but his CDs are difficult to find in the stores. I thought I’d grab a couple of those so Cranky could sing along at the show. Really, who likes to wait when music is at stake?
Speaking of waiting, I got to the Southgate House and had to wait in line for awhile to get in. You see, the Hold Steady was playing in the ballroom at the same time Darren Hanlon was scheduled to play upstairs in the parlour. So I had to wait for a bunch of behind-the-times hipsters to get their Hold Steady tickets. The Hold Steady? C’mon, those guys have been treading water ever since the little dude with the mustache quit.
I eventually got through the line and headed upstairs to the parlour. A local singer was performing when I got there, but I saw Darren Hanlon over on the side sitting behind a tiny table with a few CDs and a laptop laid out in front of him. I went over to him, explained the situation with Crankypants, and selected a few CDs for purchase. He seemed a bit nonplussed that someone would want to buy so much stuff before he even took the stage. I told him he’d better be good. He said “Cheers!” after our transaction and I just wanted to pinch his cheek it sounded so cute in his Australian accent. I think that was the first time a native-speaker has ever said “Cheers!” to me. I usually get it from Americans who spent a week getting drunk in London during their junior year study abroad program.
But anyway, I wrapped things up by reminding Darren to look out for Crankypants in a couple weeks:
If a crazy lady tries to kidnap you in Philadelphia, you’ll know it’s her!
We laughed over that for a bit and I made my way from the merch table. I took my newly-acquired Darren Hanlon musical stash out to the car and made it back in time to see him climb the parlour’s three inch-high stage about twenty minutes later.
Okay, here’s where I confess that I’d only heard a couple of Darren Hanlon’s songs before the concert. I’d seen the videos for “All These Things” and “Electric Skeleton” earlier in the day, but that was about it. I don’t usually care for live performances of songs I’m not familiar with, but Darren was great live. He played a 45 minute set full of nine songs with brief comical asides between the songs. It was good stuff all around…except maybe for the song about squash, which was only okay.
Darren started off the night with an old single called “A to Z”. He then played “Electric Skeleton” and I breathed a sigh of relief that I’d be familiar with at least one song from his set. The next song was originally by Darren’s old band, the Simpletons. It was about Laurel & Hardy, but I can’t find its proper title anywhere. I hope to find the title (and the song) sometime soon, as it was a sad song about comedians; I like that kind of thing. The next song also proved troublesome title-wise. It was about public transportation problems in Oregon, but I couldn’t find a reliable title for it online. It appears to be brand new.
Just when I was starting to think that Darren Hanlon might be too clever for his own good, he surprised me with a song called “Scenes From a Separation” off his new Yep Roc album, I Will Love You At All. I’d have to hear it a couple more times to decide, but this song made me think Darren Hanlon might be the Australian pop version of Bob Dylan. It was definitely one of the highlights of the night for me.
An entirely different kind of highlight came next with a song called “Couch Surfing”. If I’d closed my eyes while he was singing, I would’ve sworn I was at a Lucksmiths show. I’ll never get to see an actual Lucksmiths show, so I tried to savor the moment. Darren then switched gears again and played the current single and internet video sensation, “All These Things”. Yes, he played “All These Things” despite the fact that the recorded version of the song is a male/female duet. Darren just sang both parts. He didn’t try singing in a female voice, though. Thank goodness.
Although he reminded me of the Lucksmiths and Bob Dylan at different points during the night, I think Darren Hanlon has his own little quirky thing going on. It’s not the kind of quirky that makes me want to punch him, though. It’s more the kind that makes me want to buy him a beer. I didn’t do that, of course. Darren wrapped things up with the unfortunate song about squash and then a beautiful one called “Folk Insomnia” that more than made up for it. I got out of there a few minutes later. I didn’t stick around for beers or the headliner…some guy named David something.
Here’s the setlist I kept during the show. With the exception of the two songs mentioned above, all the other titles are accurate and complete:
Setlist: A to Z/Electric Skeleton/”Laurel & Hardy” (the Simpletons)/I Waited For the 17/Scenes From a Separation/Couch Surfing/All These Things/(There’s Not Enough Songs About) Squash/Folk Insomnia
I didn’t take any pictures in the parlour, but here’s a picture of the sadly lacking marquee and a scan of my hand-written setlist. I thought about including a picture of my purchases all laid out on my bed, but I think I’d rather surprise Cranky.