fruit bats [2009]

Bottom of the Hill
San Francisco, CA
30 January 2009

When you’re two people up at the counter ordering a pitcher of margaritas and the guy asks “and how many glasses do you need?”, (a) you know it’s gonna be a big pitcher and (b) you know it’s gonna be a long night.

And by long I mean that this all happened at dinner hours before the first opener took the stage. Maybe I’m just getting old, but these Friday night Bottom of the Hill 10:00 show times (read: headliner on at 12:30) are just killing me.

When Fruit Bats, led by Eric Johnson (also of The Shins), did eventually begin their set, they did so with unfortunate flair. 45 seconds into their opening song, no fewer than two monitors and one guitar string had gone down for the count.

But, as is always the sign of a solid act, the band hardly skipped a beat, with Johnson quickly making the call to jump ahead to a solo song (allowing tending to monitors and strings). “You guys okay if I skip to the quiet shit?” were his exact words.

And yes, yes we were. Because, as it turns out, the “quiet shit” was a beautiful rendition of Seaweed. It was pretty much just Johnson, but for the pure, angelic harmonies of the keyboardist. The crowd loved it, and it provided a perfect opportunity for all equipment to be restored in time for the next song.

It was my first time seeing the Fruit Bats play after years of enjoying their recordings and I was not in the least bit disappointed. Old favorites were, at times, performed with significant changes, but when it came time to close things out, the band’s version of When U Love Somebody was the same perfect sing-a-long that was released years ago on Mouthfuls.

It really was a perfect ending to a fantastic show.