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The Feelies play a rare gig on Long Island

Sunday 4/27/14 19:29

Mike Sweeney a friend from work has told me for years how he loved The Feelies.  Have you ever heard of them?  Of course, but I couldn’t tell you a Feelies song since none of their albums or singles sold very well.  This was a band which influenced other artists, like REM and Sonic Youth.  Mike asked, so many years ago, ever seen them?  No.  And it was a shame since they broke up for move than fifteen years.  But back in 2009, I saw them play an REM cover (Carnival of Sorts) at the Carnegie Hall show which consisted of various bands and artists covering REM songs.  To this date it was the last time REM played together.  It was also one of the first reunion shows for The Feelies.  The band has the reputation of playing infrequently.  The last time I heard they were in the area was last summer when they played the final sold out shows at the now defunct Hoboken landmark; Maxwells.   A few weeks ago, I found out The Feelies were playing at the WestHampton theater.  Cool, they are on Long Island.  I have to go.  My friend Jeff and I drove east.  It was the first time for me at this quaint venue which promotes and eclectic diversity of acts.  I’ve been intimated by the costs for the tickets.  For instance Natalie Merchant is playing there in a few months.  The cost per a ticket for her show is in the range of $130.00.  I’d love to take Ali, but we can’t afford it. Last night Jeff and I sat in the second row which accounts for the clear pictures for a respectful $35.00 each.   It was not close to sell out.  There were empty seats on the sides and even in the front row.  I would assume there were about a hundred of us in the cozy and warm theater which had carpeted steps and wooden banisters; as if we slipped to somewhere in the distant past.  It is immaculate inside. Not a seat was corrupted or abused by hostile punks or intoxicated seniors who are looking to recreate a delusional magic they erupted decades before.  I was a little disappointed by the lack of an audience.  It was so quiet before the band took to the darkened stage, everyone could overhead some fella a few rows behind us proclaim in a fake accent - in that classic SNL skit -I mean early eighties skit - Joe Piscabo, “You’re from Jersey?”  Between songs as the band tuned their instruments or powdered their hands, it became silent in the dark room except for the same character who made comments such as, “It’s so quiet in here, like we’re in a church.” Others called out so they could be heard by the band, “You guys sound great…really.”  Alright, enough, let’s enjoy the moment of silence before the open chords of the guitar break through.  Brenda Sauter, bassist would say thanks after each song.  But there was little banter or even gestures between the members of the band.   They seem cold towards one another, as if they were just going through the motions of playing. There was no introduction or sharing or stories of their illustrious past, there was no need to discuss the past.  The band played the past and present from a scarce catalog of more than thirty years, but only recorded five critically acclaimed albums together.  Glenn Mercer and Bill Million were perfect together even with broken strings - they did not need the glances towards each other, they were spot on.  As they played, they warmed up, danced about the stage.  There was not an opening band.  There was no need for one.  The band captivated us for close to three hours, played an REM cover, Shaking Through. Covers by the Velvet Underground and The Beatles (Me and My Monkey) I just hope they discovered a venue last night and will consider returning to it since it appears they have played in the same venues for the past few years.  Brenda said between a song; “You have a beautiful town.”  But maybe next time we can bring a few more of our arses into a Saturday night in Westhampton and fill up the plush maroon seats and share the joy of this band.  Then you too can hear our beloved wise ass from the rows behind us; plead to the sweaty performers who slowly came out for a third set, “Stop it already, I need to take a piss!”

Thank you for reading this.


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