There was an opening act, a charismatic, howling young Colombian lass named Isa. She played a good set of latin-influenced rock - her sound was plaintive and angry all at once. She's also as pretty as paint. That doesn't hurt.
But finally, Manic Automatic took the stage. The club was about half-full when Isa went on, but it was packed to the rafters for MA. They started out strong with a sonic assault that carpet-bombed the club from front to back. The band has tremendous presence - the individual members are all stellar performers. But this is crapdaddy's baby, and it shows. He's a big guy with an even bigger voice, and he knows how to put on a show. Sometimes he was twisted up like an escaped lunatic getting sucked off by a toothless thai ladyboy - sometimes he threw his anger out at the world like... an escaped lunatic NOT getting sucked off by a toothless thai ladyboy. But that escaped lunatic edge was definitely there.
More than anything I was happy to see crapdaddy on stage, performing music he believed in with musicians as dedicated as he is. He's poured his heart and soul into this band, and it shows. There's a tremendous amount of passion. I've known Sheldon almost since I moved here to LA, and I've seen him get knocked around by the Fates like an Homeric hero; I've seen him laid pretty low by it, I've seen him get up off his ass and deal with it. I've never seen him give up - and all that passion, indefatigable will, and the pure drive to DO something broke out on stage last night. The audience could feel it, they were out of their minds. Little valley girls who clearly had not come to see MA were jumping up and down, people were waving lighters, the crowd roared like a lion. The band smoked the monkey's ASS UP. (Obligatory Wesley Willis reference.) I've seen Sheldon's Really Very Bad Quite Awful Day - it's his story to tell so I won't do it myself. But involved a palm tree falling on his car, the demolition of his home, loss of a job, the police and a few other awful odds-and-ends. It takes a heck of a fellow to take a beating like that and just use it do something awesome.
So when he broke out into "Fortune and Fame" and sings:
All these doubts keep me wondering
If I have enough courage to choose
Got no more fear of what the future brings
I’m much stronger having lived through the pain
Now I’m willing to risk everything
For one last chance at fortune and fame
I was really happy for my friend. It's right there in the song - whatever was slowing him down or holding him back just didn't matter anymore. It's the first time I've seen him happy in an uncomplicated, pure, unadulerated way. I've seen him in shows, performed with him in one, seen his other band in concert - but what he brought to stage in those cases were starlight vs. a supernova compared to this. I'm glad because I got to see a killer band do a really polished, professional set. I'm even more happy to see a friend who's really struggled, find his wings and take flight.