Part 1. Start off with the backstory of how I found out about Darren Hanlon and came to see him last fall. Link to the write-up from that show.
I went to a Darren Hanlon concert last October because I owed Crankypants some CDs. I went to the show for the sole purpose of raiding Darren’s merch table on her behalf. I bought one of everything and mailed it off to her a couple days later.
Of course, it would’ve been silly for me to leave the concert once I’d made my purchases. I’d paid $10 or $12 to get in, so I stuck around to get my money’s worth. I ended up having a great time. It was one of the best shows I saw in 2010. I guess what I’m saying in my own convoluted way is this: Although I went to my first Darren Hanlon concert in a quasi-purchasing agent capacity, I went to my second as a fan…and to buy back for myself all the CDs I’d bought for and mailed to Cranky.
Part 2. Add a discussion of pre-concert adventures. Did I talk to Darren Hanlon at the merch table? Did I give him a hug? Did I ask him if the Simpletons have any ba-ba songs? Did I congratulate him on the quality of his Write Your Adventures Down contributions? Did I ask him if karaoke bars in Australia feature songs by the Go-Betweens? Did I offer to drive him to Bloomington? Did I scold him for skipping Philadelphia? Did I mention to keep his eyes open for Homey at his upcoming Seattle show? Or did I stand scowling over in the corner?
I didn’t have any pre-concert adventures. I got to the Southgate House 15 minutes before showtime and was the first audience member to arrive. I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve had a drink at a concert, but the emptiness of the Parlour made me order a beer. The bartender paused in her rambling monologue to the soundguy about evolutionary theories of monogamy just long enough to mistaken me for a band member. It turns out I had the wrong color wristband (and perhaps more importantly, don’t know how to play an instrument). I had to pay for my beer. That was as close as I came to a pre-concert adventure. Sorry. I’ll try harder next time.
I did end up talking to Darren Hanlon for a bit, but that wasn’t until after the show. I completely forgot all the talking points I mentioned above. The best thing I could come up with on the spot was a nonsensical rant about how Yep Roc’s mailing list is stupid and how they repeatedly send me “Welcome to Yep Roc” e-mails, but never anything relevant. That’s probably not the best topic to bring up with a guy signed to that label. To make it even worse, I kept calling him “Darren Hanlon” as in, “Those Yep Roc people never send me anything about Darren Hanlon.” A normal person probably would’ve used the word “you” instead of his full name. I was, after all, talking to him. I knew there was a reason I usually skip the meet & greets.
But anyway, Darren Hanlon was just as nice and approachable as I remembered him being. It was fun talking to him…but I still don’t know the answer to my Go-Betweens/karaoke question, dammit. I should’ve written my talking points down.
Part 3. If the opening act is any good, write about them. If they’re not, skip Part 3 and adjust the numbers of the following sections accordingly.
The first opener was a guy named Kyle Knapp from a local band called the Turkeys. He had a voice reminiscent of Gary Jules and knew enough to cover Gordon Lightfoot’s “Steel Rail Blues”.
The second opening act was a Portland-based singer named Shelley Short. The majority of her brief set was performed with Darren and drummer Steph Hughes. I liked her music and ended up buying the split 7″ she did with the Gold Coats (who might actually be Steph). Shelley Short has done two Daytrotter Sessions that are available for free and legal download. You can access them from here if you’re interested. I listened to the Daytrotter recordings before the show and was happy to recognize a couple of the songs during the concert. Good stuff.
Part 4. Write a couple paragraphs about Darren Hanlon’s performance. Try not to use words like “good”, “bad”, “neat-o”, “enjoyed”, and “charming”. Do not compare him to Billy Bragg.
I don’t really feel like going song-by-song through the show. I’ve done that before with a Darren Hanlon write-up and don’t want to do it again. I think I’ll just say this instead:
I wrote last week that although books can sour my attitude or even make me sad in some circumstances, they don’t generally have the ability to improve my mood. For that, I really need music. And right now, nobody’s music makes me happier than Darren Hanlon’s. If you happen to find one of his records for sale somewhere, you should buy it. If he plays a show anywhere near where you live, you should go to it. If you see him stranded on the side of the road, you should pick him up, take him home, feed him, let him sleep on your couch if he’s tired, and then make sure he gets where he needs to go.
That is all.
Except for one thing, I guess. Darren Hanlon is nothing like Billy Bragg. I’m not sure how that rumor got started.
Part 5. Write down the official setlist.
Setlist: “sale in your brain…bump in the road…blood in your soul”/Elbows/My Life a Blur/Falling Aeroplanes/Pinball Millionaire/Yes, There Is a Slight Chance He Might Actually Fail–>Run to Paradise/Scenes From a Separation/The Duet/I Waited For the 17/Johnny B. Goode/If Only My Heart Were Made of Stone/All These Things/Buy Me Presents/I Wish That I Was Beautiful For You
Part 6. Insert some pictures or scanned ephemera to help draw attention away from the quality of the writing.
Part 7. Maybe add the “Butterfly Bones” short film/music video so people can hear what Darren Hanlon sounds like. Some people have short attention spans, so be sure to mention that the music begins at the 1:49 mark.
Hey, watch this! If you have a short attention span and just want to hear the music, skip forward to the 1:49 mark.
[NOTE: The text in bold was written prior to the show as a sort of How-to-write-a-Darren-Hanlon-concert-review template. The regular text was written after the show.]