I arrived at the House of Blues at 6:20 pm. I was meeting a couple friends of mine for happy hour, and I thought if there was an issue with my ticket and photo pass, that would allow for time to fix the problem before the show. Fortunately everything was there, including an extra ticket. Beautiful. I looked for my friends who had yet to arrive and sat at the bar, ordered a vodka tonic and put in my order for their tasty catfish nuggets. I've always loved the House of Blues' happy hour. $3 wells, $2 drafts, and half price appetizers...and those nuggets are a sufficient meal for two. I was in a really, really good mood. Sometimes timing is everything and mine was just working out. I didn't even mention the princess parking spot I got.
I sucked down my drink and ordered another before my friends arrived and we moved to a table. We caught up and enjoyed hanging out. At 6:58, I ordered a double that would last me the next hour with my friends before the show. Eventually I said my goodbyes and made my way to the venue entrance which was precisely when my new found love of House of Blues shot out the window.
"There's no re-entry tonight, so once you're in, you're in," the security guard yelled to the crowd. WTF? The last few times I'd been there, they allowed ins and outs. I inquired and someone told me that there's a new manager who wanted to keep the alcohol business inside the venue. Understandable to a point but they hadn't really planned out a smoking area and why is the venue competing with itself? If anyone asked, the guards were to tell people the reason for no re-entry was noise complaints by neighbors. A total fabrication.
My second disappointment was that I had a photo pass but there was no photo pit. Aargh. Ferraby Lionheart took the stage and I asked if I could use the one foot section between the rail and the stage and the guard was cool enough to let me squeeze in.
I was quickly getting over my little annoyances because once Ferraby Lionheart started it was hard to not get lost in his music. The band sounded great and it was nice seeing them again after only a couple weeks and recognizing songs enough to pick favorites and the ones that don't work as well live. Not because they're bad songs but because they're beautiful and quiet and people at shows are just dicks and talk fucking loud and don't deserve such beauty, quite frankly. Last time I saw them I thought people were being rude for the Casbah, but House of Blues people certainly outshined that volume issue. Still, up front, as long as you were within 6 feet of the stage, you could hear them and know that they sounded fantastic.
I later found out that the drummer for Ferraby Lionheart was only 17, and this being a 21 and up show, they wouldn't even allow him backstage. He stayed outside all night. Seems like an unfortunate way to treat a touring band, but thems the rules, I guess.
The National took the stage and I was completely lost in the music. Again we squeezed into the little gap between the railing and the stage. From where I was, the band sounded perfect. There were some additional band members and the horns and violin really sounded beautiful. We lost track of the song count and nobody ushered us out, so Natalie and I took a gazillion pics. Eventually I left into the crowd, partially because some guy was kind enough to point out that our three songs were up and partially because I had abandoned my friend Sarah, so I found her and we watched from the crowd.
The National Setlist, 5.28.08
I kinda snuck to an area I wasn't supposed to be for the encores but can't really go into it so I guess I'll just have to keep that for myself for now. After the show I bolted pretty quick to catch the end of Neva Dinova's set at the Casbah and for my first time, used all the memory on my camera in a matter of 4 hours, so I uploaded pics to my laptop and by the time I made it in, only caught the last 3 songs. By the time it was over, I was beat and made my way home and read some of Troy Johnson's book before my eyes finally shut down for the night.