Darren Hanlon @ the Southgate House (4/7/11)

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.]

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44 Responses to Darren Hanlon @ the Southgate House (4/7/11)

  1. hotrod says:

    Nice job. This is your best concert review yet.

  2. madtante says:

    As an American who says “cheers” at a Taco Bell drive-thru, I’d no idea I’ve been looking like a douchebag for it these decades. It would take effort to stop, so I guess I’ll keep saying that, along with all the swearing mum couldn’t knock out of me.

    • M-----l says:

      It took me a couple minutes to figure out what you were talking about in your seemingly random comment. Then I reread my original Darren Hanlon write-up and it all fell into place.

      Although my experience with Americans who say “cheers” hasn’t been overwhelmingly positive, I am willing to admit that there might be some very cool people out there who can pull it off. I’ve thought about trying it out myself because I like how the word can be used as a goodbye, a thank you, and in situations involving drunkenness. I don’t think it would work for me, though. I think I’d end up sounding like a poser.

      • madtante says:

        Sorry, I thought since you linked it, you’d reread it, so you’d know what I was talking about…

        I’m not cool. I’m just me — but I’m eccentric, so maybe that’s why I’ve always gotten away with it?

  3. Laurie says:

    My money’s on you standing scowling in the corner, wishing you could give Darren Hanlon a hug.

    • M-----l says:

      Scowling and wishing…that’s how I spent much of high school, college, and my 20s. My intended hug recipients were rarely Australian men, though.

  4. crankypants says:

    Give him a hug give him a hug give him a hug!
    don’t tell him it’s from me!

    I only say ‘Cheers’ when I am clinking glasses, and usually it’s “Cheers, Big Ears!”

    You won’t stand scowling in the corner because the music and banter will make you smile. Also you will be drawing court-like sketches in red ink.

    Request Electric Skeleton for me!

    • M-----l says:

      I think the only way I’d end up giving Darren Hanlon a hug would be if the Southgate House burned down during the show and he happened to save me from the flames. Even then, we’d probably just shake hands.

  5. Maybe it’s just me, but Darren Hanlon looks like the young Russell Crowe. I’d give him a hug if I saw him. So I guess I’d better check to see if he’s making an appearance in the Bay Area. I might even get my younger daughter and Lurkertype to come with me. We’re all female so we don’t have a problem with hugs.

    • crankypants says:


      Thursday 5th
      DAVIS, CA
      Sophia’s Thai Kitchen

      Friday 6th
      Off The Air

      I don;t know if those are anywhere near you!
      and yes, he does look a bit like Russell! That was my very first thought when I first saw him in the “All These Things” video!

      • He’s playing at a Thai restaurant? LOL! But I love it! I went to college in Davis, which is just half an hour from my house. (20 minutes with my lead foot.) Modesto is a little farther but the venue might be more like a club—dunno, because it’s been years since I’ve been down there. But I like his music: I’ll see if I can get tickets in advance for this, unless the Thai Kitchen is one of those collect-at-the-door kind of places. Or two-drink-minimum. Do they even do that anymore? Just wondering.

        • M-----l says:

          Dang, I want to see him in a Thai restaurant. Thai food and Darren Hanlon are two of my favorite things.

          (I doubt you’ll run into a two-drink-minimum unless you go to a jazz club.)

          • All of the Thai places I’ve been to out here have been mediocre. Maybe it’s just bad luck, but can there really be three bad Thai restaurants in San Francisco? Sophie’s Thai Kitchen has fairly high marks on Yelp, but most of the reviews were left by college students from what I can tell. College students are always starved for anything that’s not pizza, hamburgers, or donuts, so I tend to take their food reviews with a grain of salt. Or sometimes a whole salt shaker. Oh heck, I’ll just pencil it in on my calendar and go.

          • M-----l says:

            Maybe you should use a pen. I just checked the Thai Kitchen’s website and learned that tickets for the Darren Hanlon show are only $3!

          • crankypants says:

            THREE DOLLARS? No wonder he can’t afford places to stay or transportation to the next town. I hope they at least get all the Thai food and drinks they can stuff themselves with after the show.
            Three dollars. Why bother charging at all.

          • I saw that on the restaurant’s website. Gee, I feel so bad for Darren Hanlon, I think I should also buy a couple of CDs and give him a hug. (I’ll tell him it’s from cranky in Philly.)

  6. Pingback: In which I muck up yesterday’s post by finishing it… | Outgoing Signals

  7. crankypants says:

    I think you only paid $6 or $8 for the first show. I eagerly await more details, but maybe you are driving to Bloomington.

    • M-----l says:

      Dollar amounts have been adjusted for inflation.

      And no, I’m not driving to Bloomington. Contrary to what I thought I read on Darren’s site, they actually have a car. It’s a Ford Fiesta…although he calls it a Festiva or something like that.

  8. crankypants says:

    Oh and he played Pinball Millionaire!! That’s one of my favorites. It gets stuck in my head and I end up singing (part of) it all day long.

    • M-----l says:

      He was only a couple songs in when he opened things up for requests. I have never in my entire concert-going career shouted at a musician to do anything, so I wasn’t going to change my policy and request a song. I mostly wanted to hear him sing “Lee Remick” or “Right Here” and I think it’s probably insulting to request a cover. It’s like, “You’re songs aren’t good enough, so play some Go-Betweens.” Still, his version of “Right Here” is just about the best thing ever.

      “Pinball Millionaire” was pretty great, though. So was “He Might Actually Fail”. He threw in some of the Choirboys’ Run to Paradise at the end there. Not quite the Go-Betweens, but still Australian 80s rock (and a Jenny song, too).

  9. crankypants says:

    So you didn’t remember to scold him about not coming here?
    Maybe next time he’ll skip the Southgate house if you scared him away too. Then we will all have to bombard him in Seattle.

    • M-----l says:

      Sorry, I forgot to scold him about skipping Philly. Why would he want to go to such a small market anyway when he’s got shows scheduled for heavyweights like Newport, Bloomington, Billings, and (the possibly imaginary) Nampa?

  10. crankypants says:

    I guess not many bands go to Nampa, so maybe the entire town of 54 people will show up.

  11. Lurkertype says:

    Apparently I have been drafted to travel a couple hours away and show up at a Thai restaurant to hug an Australian?

    I have GOT to start getting up earlier.

    • Well, it’s optional, but I thought it would be fun since we know cranky and M—–l and we could compare notes with them. I think however I should reserve a hotel room or a bunk at the hostel just in case we end up not being able to pass a breathalyzer test.

      • Lurkertype says:

        I’ll have to check the train schedule; no matter how talented he is, I don’t feel like driving to Davis, even though it would be cheaper. And I don’t do hostels — not even at the appropriate age.

        I wonder if the college kids have already snapped up the tickets?

        • I called twice today to see if they sell tickets in advance, and all I get is a recorded message. They say they don’t take reservations, it’s strictly first-come, first-served, so maybe that applies to the shows as well.

          I just found out the probate hearing for my aunt’s estate is May 5, in the Yolo County Courthouse in Woodland. That’s just 20 minutes away from Davis, but if the day goes badly, I might not be able to go anyway. But then I might be in the mood for an ice-cold beer and a plate of pad thai after a day in court. I’ll probably look hilarious to the college students there, all dressed up in a suit. 😦

          • M-----l says:

            I didn’t see many (or maybe any) college students at the show I went to last week. I think Darren Hanlon attracts a more mature audience.

          • “Mature audience?” Now I really feel old. But I suspect you’re right. Davis however is a college town, so I don’t know who else would go see him. Faculty? University staff? Oldies like me, who wear band t-shirts and applaud wildly at the end of a set?

          • M-----l says:

            I think your show will mostly be filled up with people who like Thai food.

          • homebody says:

            I hope you get to see him. Last night’s show in Seattle was truly delightful. I really liked Shelley Short, too.

            (His audience in Seattle last night including quite a few people who I would guess were older than you by a good 5-10 years. )

          • I’ve got it written down, but a lot is going to depend on how the probate hearing goes. It might be over in 15 minutes, or it might drag on all afternoon before it gets thrown out (again—this will be our fourth time petitioning the court for a settlement).

            But like I said, I might need afterwards a date with a cute Australian over some Thai food and a cold beer.

    • M-----l says:

      Even if you end up disliking Darren Hanlon, you’d still get to hang out with HG and eat Thai food. Two out of three ain’t bad.

      (I think I just quoted Meatloaf. I’m sorry.)

  12. crankypants says:

    The more people I can get to go see him (and they told two friends, and so on and so on and so on) the more I can hold it over his head to play in Philly or be my friend. Of course he’d have to play in Philly for me to hold it over his head that I got him 6 new fans in the US. But spread out all over the nation!!
    I’m just going to get a cheerleader outfit made with his name across my chest for the next time I can go see him.
    Not really.
    But it’s a humorous image, me as a cheerleader in a crowd of 35 people at a folky concert, cheering him on and going nuts.

  13. crankypants says:

    Tonight he’s playing at a garden center in Montana.
    But he skipped Philadelphia.

  14. crankypants says:

    San Francisco and LA dates added to his tour. Head east young man!

  15. Pingback: There’s a venue-shaped hole in my heart. | Outgoing Signals

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