Ben Nichols’ (Lucero) Bikeriders solo tour never brings him as far north as NYC, so I was thrilled that we were going to get Ben along with Rick Steff (Lucero) for a show. The performance was in a new venue (just had their grand opening Friday of last week), The Shop, which advertises itself as BBQ, Bikes, Beer, and Bands. As soon as I got up onto the street from the subway I saw the sign with the pig and all the motorcycles out front. Since I was early I decided to walk around a bit and look at the street art. The Shop is in a previously industrial area of Bushwick that now has a lot of nice bars and restaurants.
There were murals;
another Ben hanging out;
and other things.
Once inside, I ordered a Stoli, since they don’t have Ketel One, and a hawg sandwich. The place is warehouse size so it’s very noisy. You have to order your food at one end of the bar and then pick it up at the other end. When the food is ready it sits on a shelf until someone brings it to the end of the bar. Since I was sitting across from the kitchen door I could see a lot of the food sitting for a while until one of the bar backs picked it up. I was thinking that they need a runner just for the food. The man sitting next to me was drinking beer after beer and I noticed that the staff kept asking him questions, so I asked him if he was the owner. He said he was trying to keep a low profile and that he is one of four owners of The Shop. And he is heart-stoppingly gorgeous. He must have been a model. It was difficult to look at him because he was so handsome. I’d heard one of the bartenders congratulate him – he’s getting married next week. To the head bartender, who is also model pretty. The owner said that his owning the place had nothing to do with her getting the head bartender job and then we both laughed.
We talked about The Shop – that they’d been working on it for a long time and that it was supposed to open last year. They had a soft opening and then the official opening was just on 5 June. We also talked about his fiancée and how quickly they fell in love and that it was going to be a courthouse wedding. He told me the best time to get there to eat and that I should try the ribs next time I come in. He had never heard of Ben or Lucero so I told him that the crowd would be a hard-drinking crowd and that should make him happy. He smiled.
He bought me a drink, which any bar owner should do for a first time customer, so I appreciated that. I told him about the food sitting out too long and he said they usually have a runner for that and they should have one tonight and he called over one of the bar backs and told him to just run the food. Then he ran off to get home before the place got super crowded and the music started.
The show was advertised for 7:30pm but the opening act did not go on until 8:30pm. I didn’t catch the name – it was a solo guy on guitar. From what I could hear from my bar stool he sounded pretty good. By the time the sound gets to the bar it’s muddy and it is difficult to hear above the noisy bar crowd.
For Ben and Rick, I got off the bar stool and stood near the back of the crowd. I had a good spot until the tallest guy in the place stood in front of me. I managed to maneuver myself so I could see either Ben or Rick but not both at the same time.
Ben was in a good mood and played a couple of songs from the new album coming out in the fall. He did forget the lyrics to a few songs. During “The Kid” he had to count off where the Kid had been so that he could figure out where the Kid was going in the forgotten verse. We heard “Davy Brown,” which I don’t think I’ve ever heard live. He forgot the lyrics to “Kiss the Bottle” and had to abort, which was the funniest thing ever. Then he started the beginning guitar riff for “Noon as Dark as Midnight” but never got past that. During “Tonight Ain’t Gonna Be Good” Ben added lyrics while he and Rick played off each other.
Ben solo is wonderful but with Rick it becomes magical. Rick fills in some of the missing guitar parts but then he also plays stuff that even Ben hasn’t heard before and you watch Ben just stand back admiring Rick’s playing. Ben’s guitar was acting up so he gave it a rest for a few songs and it was just Ben singing with Rick playing on the piano.
The crowd sang along and it was great. What wasn’t great was how noisy the crowd could be during some of the quieter songs. Ben loves the quiet sad songs and so do I.
After the show I told Ben that I’d seen John Moreland the night before and told Ben that Moreland would be playing Rockwood the next night. You could see Ben trying to figure out if he could make the show and, realizing that he couldn’t, he said if I went again to tell John that Ben said hi. I also told Ben that I thought Rick could just elevate a song and Ben rhapsodized on how much he loves Rick’s playing.
When You Decided to Leave
The Last Pale Light in the West
Hold Me Close
The Man I Was (new song)
Texas & Tennessee
Women & Work
Sixes & Sevens
Young Outlaws (new song)
Last Night in Town
That Much Further West
Tonight Ain’t Gonna Be Good
Kiss the Bottle (aborted)
Nights Like These
Fistful of Tears
Chain Link Fence (abbreviated version)
I Can’t Stand to Leave You
By Carene Lydia Lopez