So nice I saw him twice. Joe Pug was headlining at the Knitting Factory in Williamsburg. The show was sold out, which made me very happy for him. My usual spot against the back wall next to the sound booth is now taken up by occupied high tables so I had to stand up against the sound booth. This was okay some of the time but there was one and then big-headed tall guys in front of me who blocked my view.
This is a head, not a bowling ball on a pedestal.
I ordered a Stoli on the rocks, which was listed as $8 on the board. The bartender asked for $10. When I asked why she said it was because of the ice – on the rocks is a longer pour. I have never heard of such a thing.
David Ramirez is opening for Pug on the current East Coast tour. He is from Austin and his songs are personal – about love and Jesus. The religious songs could also be heard as love songs and are not proselytizing at all. As soon as Ramirez said hello the entire room hushed and stayed that way throughout his set. He played a set of quiet songs on acoustic guitar and harmonica. At one point he jokingly said he had exhausted all the up-tempo songs and now he was going to play the soft shit. Standouts were “Shoeboxes” and “The Forgiven.” His last song “Find the Light” was upbeat.
Since he was headlining there was more Joe Pug. First thing I noticed was that his hair was not quite so curly – it was probably a little dirty and had had time to settle down.
During the intro of one of the songs a woman yelled out and Pug introduced us to “his 12-year-old cousin Denise,” and he said she could take this song back with her to Binghamton. Later when a man called out, Pug introduced him as “his cousin Donald, Denise’s brother, who has had a rough year – including his current job at Quiznos.” Pug said his act was sincere songs with asshole commentary.
Since this was his audience there was singing along with the familiar songs. He did not do the intro about his father driving down from DC for “I Do My Father’s Drugs” but later when someone asked him how his father was we got the story again but longer and even funnier and ending with not being able to find the car that night and his father having to spend the night with members of David Wax Museum in Charlottesville and declaring the evening awesome.
In addition to Matt Schuster (upright bass) and Greg Tuohey (electric and acoustic guitar), Ron Ritenour (I think that’s the name) joined them on pedal steel for a few songs. For one song Ritenour and Tuohey battled guitars.
“The Great Despiser” “Nation of Heat” “Hymn #101” “Hymn #35” “Silver Harps and Violins” were all wonderful as was the new song he played for us. His catalog isn’t that deep so we heard almost all his songs. Even a song he doesn’t usually play – “O’ My Chesapeake.”
For the encore Pug introduced Ramirez, who played one song solo and then Pug and band came out for two more songs – “Call It What You Will” and “Speak Plainly, Diana” with the audience singing loudly along with the chorus.
By Carene Lydia Lopez