The Duke Spirit is a rock and roll band from
After voiding my Duke Spirit virginity that fateful Thursday evening, I put the word out about them. Most ignored my preaching, but one man turned an interested lobe in my direction. I asked him, “Is that an interested lobe you are directing at me?” And he said, “Indeed, it is an interested lobe.” Then I asked, “What does your interested lobe want us to do about it?” And he said, “The interested lobe wants us to attend a The Duke Spirit event at our next earliest convenience.” That convenience coordinated with our space-time path about a month later at The Empty Bottle in
Prior to the show that evening, I met the man with the interested lobe at a small barstauraunt aptly named The Small Bar on
We arrived at The Empty Bottle just in time to catch the last two songs of the first band. I was sweaty and irritable after a lengthy walk from The Small Bar to the intersection of
The Empty Bottle presents itself with unabashed dinginess posing as avante-garde. The facility is a blown apart brick building with painted car doors hanging on the walls serving as enigmatic viewing ruptures. There were also some multi-media paintings created by someone with no artistic ability trying to be artistic by blatantly revealing xe’s non-artistic ability. I know bad art when I see it - I've made enough of it myself to know.
Before I became too critical of The Empty Bottle’s décor, the second band took the stage. I don’t remember their name, but I referred to them as the Hurky Jerky Funtime Band. The singer/guitar player and the guitar/keyboardist took each song they performed as an opportunity to get in some flail aerobics, while the bass player rocked back and forth at the hips like souped-up dippy bird. I think the drummer was sitting on a pogo stick. I’m not sure what they were doing musically, but it had ingredients of the Beatles, Pink Floyd, Yes, The Brady 6, The Wiggles, Madness, Cyndi Lauper and that band from the bar in Star Wars. To their credit, I must admit there was about a three minute span during their show that sounded pretty cool, until they interrupted it with a palmed-keyboard solo and gobble chant. It’s career suicide to either have “Funtime Band” in your band’s name or in your band’s personality. Most people don’t know this, but Black Sabbath was originally called The Black Sabbath Funtime Band until they realized they could not get a recording contract. They lopped off the end of their name and the rest is history. Luckily for us, the H-J Funtime Band did the same thing with their set, before long.
While we waited for The Duke Spirit to begin, I conducted some people watching. Here are my thoughts: Darn, I forgot to wear a giant red bow in my hair. Why is that guy wearing a heavy leather jacket indoors on a hot summer night? On a hot summer night, Meatloaf. I gotta know right now. Do you love me? Will you love me forever? Speaking of forever, when is the show going to start? Look at that old guy. I’m glad he’s here. That means we’re not the oldest ones here. Golly, that bartender is pale. I wish these girls would stop rubbing on me. Oh, wait. It’s the other way around. That’s OK, then. I need another beer. Maybe I should pee before they go on. People are starting to move towards the stage. I’ll just hold it.
The Duke Spirit came at me like a charger of nitrous oxide filling up a punching balloon. I was thrown backward and my bones started to melt. Their sound was argumentative yet soothing, with a consistent adherence to the doctrine of fluctuating compliance. Yeah, that’s about right.
I was unfamiliar with most of their songs, so I had to learn as we went along. Liela’s voice was that of an angel who chose to be in a rock band rather than benefit from the acoustics of an empyrean sound system. The gits in the band were solid and stayed out of Liela’s way as she attacked the microphone stand with fury only to hold it gently, but with strength, as if she were holding an insecure lover. For the first half of the show, I didn’t know what was happening to me. In retrospect, I realize I was drawn to their music while it slowly enveloped me. It wasn’t until they performed Wooden Heart that I discovered that I was engulfed. Liela had engulfed me. That song made me feel like I was in an embrace with a lover after the lovin’, Engelbert Humperdinck, or maybe with an arbitrary drunken skank who had just puked on herself after the lovin’. Either way, I awoke from my daze lying on the floor of The Empty Bottle spooning with the drunk chick who had been standing in front of me, who had just puked on herself. I would understand your heart, if I could feel it, indeed. And if you didn’t smell and feel like puke.
I knew then that I dug this band. And if I hadn’t by then, I certainly would have later when Liela instructed us to all show her our arm pits, in an attempt to get us to clap with our hands in the air. She told us that if she couldn’t smell our armpits it just wouldn’t be good. I've been asked to do weirder things - I'm in. It was at that point she understood what it felt like to know that every straight member of her opposite sex wanted to make love to her that night. I felt close to her knowing that she and I were the only ones in the room to know what that felt like at that moment. They finished us off with an obligatory encore and sent us on our way.
On my way out I strangled the merchandise table girl because she was out of The Duke Spirit CD, Neptune. If you are reading this now, merch girl, I apologize. I was in the midst of an engulfment rage. Don’t worry, I bought the CD a few days later.
The man with the interested lobe and I walked back to our cars, both appreciating our surprised enjoyment of the show. He wiggled his lobe at me and I drove away. All the way home I relived The Duke Spirit show in my head, while I blissfully burped up tater tots.