Another February Friday night and another night out to see good music. I hadn’t been to the Bell House (in Gowanus) in a while and I was very surprised by how much the block has changed. It used to be a very dark and desolate block until you got to the club. The Museum of Anatomy has been on the corner for a bit but there’s a new art gallery and a seafood restaurant called Bahche that looks lovely. There’s a big patio that’s used when the weather is nicer and one side of it looks like an old building with old wooden shutters and doors.
I made sure to get to the club early because the website said the show was going to start at 7pm (which is also when the doors were supposed to open – the show actually started at about 7:15pm). Originally the show’s start time was 7:30pm but there was now a DJ scheduled for 10pm so I knew the show would have a hard stop. And it did – Rhett said he had to end at 9pm.
Because I was so early, I got a table in the back and saved seats for Mrs. Devereaux, mollyT, and rtb. I was alone at the table when Rhett came out with Salim Nourallah to introduce him. There were about 12 people in the room and Rhett said he hoped that more would be showing up. Rhett also pointed out Nourallah’s boombox, which was sitting on a stool. For all the songs, Nourallah played to a cassette along with his acoustic guitar. There was a song about going through photos that had a lovely Beatlesque melody. All the songs started with Nourallah using one mic, which produced an old-timey sound and then he would move to the regular mic. Mrs. Devereaux and mollyT showed up while Nourallah was on stage and I could tell they weren’t very impressed. I said that I want to like Nourallah because he’s a friend of Rhett’s and he has produced some of Rhett’s solo albums but, unfortunately, Nourallah is just not that good. He said he brought the boombox because the last time he played in NYC the audience talked through his entire set and he wanted to be louder than the audience. There was one woman yelling and cheering Nourallah on but most of the audience (the room did start filling up but there was never more than 20 people) were not paying attention. Two women were standing in front of me and talking very loudly. I did ask them to stop and they did. I though it was rude to do that in front of the performer, especially when the room was so empty.
There were more people when Rhett Miller took the stage but the room was far from full. I was very disappointed for Rhett. Many people came in while he was singing with most of them surprised that he was already on stage. rtb got there late and stood near the stage, which in retrospect I wish I had done. I didn’t want to be close to the stage for Nourallah but I could have moved for Rhett. Since he only had an hour to perform he said he was gong to play fast songs and talk like a middle school debater. For “Barrier Reef,” Rhett said he played the song in Cuba and he had introduced the song in Spanish saying his real name was Stewart Ransom Miller and since he is a junior, the Stewart in the song was his father. The review the next day said that Rhett had spoken Spanish “con dificultad.” Rhett also talked about the Emo DJ who was coming on at 10pm and Rhett felt that he was the godfather of emo. I could hear mollyT laughing during some of the songs and that delighted me. I’ve heard these songs so many times that I sometimes forget how funny some of them are.
During the show there were two couples in front of me talking. Then the two men started talking with each other and they were very loud. I asked them if they could stop talking and one of them smirked and told me, “No.” I was surprised but recovered immediately and asked if they could move to the bar and he said no again. But the other guy stopped talking so I got what I wanted.
Since he didn’t have a lot of time, Rhett did a fake encore where he didn’t actually leave the stage. Rhett didn’t disappoint but I wish there were more people there and more energy from the crowd.
What We Talk About
This is the Ballad
Out of Love
World Inside the World
Five Years (David Bowie cover)
Big Brown Eyes
Longer Than You’ve Been Alive
Buick City Complex
Let’s Get Drunk and Get It On
Won’t Be Home
Most in the Summertime
By Carene Lydia Lopez