Harvey Danger and Friends

"Old Hat"
from Where Have All the Merrymakers Gone?

Live at
Der Rathskeller
Madison, WI
September 29, 2006


Apologetically, they ended their set about three-quarters of the way through, jumping forward to "Private Helicopter" as a closer. The song made it clear that they couldn't go on -- it features a climax that Nelson just couldn't go without tearing his throat out -- despite how much they and the audience wanted to continue. After the song ended, the last chord continued to ring out and they huddled up for a quick band meeting. When they emerged, they had decided the show would go on as Harvey Danger karaoke.

I don't know if they've ever done this before, but they and we dove into it without hesitation. Hands shot up and a girl named Chelsea was picked to sing a ballad from Little By Little..., which got a huge response from the crowd, which by now appeared to fill the Rathskeller. While she sang I found myself trying to remember how a couple of older songs started, and to figure out if I could call up all the words. When she finished, hands went back up and Nelson asked me and another guy what we wanted to sing. I said "Terminal Annex," he said something I couldn't hear, and "Terminal Annex" was the winner.

The rush of it was incredible, even on a stage just six inches off the floor. It's one of my favorite songs to sing, and doing so with that loud, crazed audience in front of me was amazing, even though I did forget a couple of lines. A couple songs later, these two guys -- I think named Tom and Max, but I'm not sure -- got up to sing "Old Hat," the other one I'd thought about doing. They get a little help from Nelson and from the audience, and then from -- no kidding -- the girl from the We Are Scientists show that cajoled everybody into climbing up on the stage.

They ended with the song they love to hate -- their one hit, "Flagpole Sitta" -- which Nelson began, before yielding the mic to about a dozen people. The vibe of the whole show was astounding and encapsulated in that community songcraft at the end. I hope they come back soon with Nelson at full strength, but even if they do I can't imagine how they could put on a better show.

Posted by Aaron S. Veenstra ::: 2006:10:05:08:00