Eric Villa and the Name Games – Detroit – The Magic Stick, MI – 2002-05-03

Eric Villa and the Name Games
Where: Detroit – The Magic Stick, MI.

When: 2002-05-03

After a long, long, LONG week at work (and an especially long Friday, to boot, thanks to some unexpected mandatory overtime), I was really looking forward to this show. See, I’ve carried this terrible torch for Elizabeth Elmore since the first time I heard Sarge’s The Glass Intact back in 1999, and after a horrible week, there was nothing that could make me happier than seeing Ms. Elmore live and in person. Well, nothing, that is, except beer, so Dad and I made a quick stop at a local saloon, where Drinking Buddy and Dad got into a rather entertaining and childish fight that involved throwing things into each other’s drinks. Thankfully, Drinking Buddy decided not to go to the show with us, which meant the petty bickering about projectiles and beer was thankfully over for the night. Thus, Dad and I headed out to the Magic Stick to have us some beers and hear us some music.

We got to the Stick a little early, which was actually cool because it gave us a chance to grab a drink down at the Garden Bowl bar. I love that place – we were able to crash out on a couch and watch the original Batman marathon that was showing on the bar TV sets. How cool is that?

Anyways, the doors to the Stick finally opened, so Dad and I headed upstairs for some rock goodness. We grab a table up by the stage, and when I wander over to pick up another round of drinks, I caught sight of Ms. Elmore herself up at the bar. Like my usual socially inept self, I wrangled up to the bar and made a sad, sad, SAD attempt to talk to her. It failed. MISERABLY. Thus, I grabbed my drinks and headed back to the table to catch a set from Leland. I haven’t been able to find out much about this band, but I really liked the set they put on that night. Leland came off with a sort of Incubus-meets-PlanesMistakenForStars-meets-Cursive vibe. The guitars ruled the set, though the drummer was a pretty talented guy, and the singer/guitarist jumped, thrashed, twisted and contorted himself around the stage like a circus show freak. He was a pretty energetic frontman, and the band themselves put on a nice set.

Of course, from there I got all giddy like a kid in a candy store, as The Reputation took the stage next. Despite a lack of vocals in the mix during the band’s first song (a problem that was quickly amended), the Reputation put on a very good live show. Elmore’s vocals came off wonderfully during “The Stars of Amateur Hour,” and Dad spazzed off mid-set over a slower, spacey number that put more of a focus on Elmore and guitarist Sean Hulet’s vocals. The band seemed to be having a good time, as well, as every song saw some band member smiling, laughing, or mouthing some sort of joke or comment to someone else on stage. Personally, the set highlight was the wicked set closing performance of “Misery By Design” … Well, that and watching Elmore cooing her vocals into the mic with her eyes clenched shut, twisting and wagging her body while strumming away at her guitar …

Anyways, the Reputation put on a nice little set, and after they played, I had the pleasure of chatting up Ms. Elmore for a few moments before she took an exhausted hike to the backstage area to relax. To be honest, Eric Villa and the Name Games didn’t really impress me – they were a dress-shirt-and-tie wearing indie-pop three-piece that reminded Dad of the Presidents of the United States and me of Joe Jackson. Musically, they were solid enough, I suppose, but after about two songs, I found myself spending the majority of Eric Villa’s set chatting with Joel Root, the Reputation’s bassist. Damn nice guy, that Joel.

By that point, Dad and I were both exhausted after a long week, so we skipped out on the Clone Defects set and went home (seeing as I’m not a big Clone Defects fan anyways, this wasn’t a big deal). This was very much the Reputation’s show, and honestly, I’d spent all of my energies on freaking out over Ms. Elmore and her happy crew. Anyone that gets a chance to see the Reputation live should most definitely seek out Joel and say hi to him, though – he’s a good conversationalist.