The Baseball Project/The Minus 5/Steve Wynn IV; September 11, 2009; Martyr’s
It really wasn’t fair to anyone on stage at Martyr’s tonight. We had just come from Schubas where Joe Pernice had just put on an inspiring show of covers and originals, his remarkable voice like that of an angel. In comparison anyone would sound laboriously mortal, but honestly, I can’t imagine Steve Wynn ever sounding good. Yep, I said it. I know the man is revered by old record store employees and former paisley undergrounders across the country, but the man can’t sing, and it was painfully obvious tonight.
Scott McCaughey pulled his weight, being both the comic and musical relief. Linda Pitmon was awesome, a force behind the drum kit and on vocals. And honestly, where else could you be five feet from REM’s Peter Buck and not get arrested for trespassing? Despite the inclusion of many songs from the fascinating and entertaining Baseball Project, the set seemed to drag on forever, and we’d had enough by the third song of the “just one more” encore.
Still, the night did have its perks. For one it was the most celebrity filled show I have ever been at. Poi Dog Pondering’s Dag Juhlin stopped me as I walked by with a surprised “Kiki?!” Wilco’s John Stirratt tried to look unassuming and blend into the crowd, and mostly succeeded. The king of Chicago country punk Jon Langford made no such effort, holding court in the back of the room. McCaughey’s ridiculous fur hat, which believe it or not was sillier than his hair, was another. And there was “Harvey Haddix,” which is easily the best song from the group’s record about baseball and may have been worth the $20 cover right there.
Still, I should have gone home after Joe Pernice and not let anything ruin my bliss.