Thursday, February 22, 2007

Ubu Swag Dream

David Thomas of Pere Ubu. He sings for all those guys.

Last night I dreamed I was at a Pere Ubu concert. It was in a sweaty little club, just like the time I saw them for real. I'm not a big concert-goer, but my real Ubu show was one of the great shows I've attended: a rainy night at Bogarts in Cincinnati, probably 1987. The band had just reunited after a layoff of several years, and I couldn't believe I was actually going to get the opportunity to see them play. But it got better than that: when maybe 75 people showed up for the gig, the band waved for everybody to come closer to the stage. So I was able to stand about ten feet away from one of my favorite bands as they plugged in and performed all my favorites. Except for one idiot in the crowd who insisted on exclaiming "Little fishes!" at intervals that baffled crowd and band alike, it was everything I could have hoped for. And I got to see them with Allen Ravenstine too, not long before he left the group.

Anyway, I promised you a dream, so here goes. When the performance ended, I complimented the band as they passed by en route to their dressing room, then I piled into a line that lead to the table where vocalist and spike hammerer David Thomas settled down to sell and sign exclusive Ubu swag. There was a rotating rack filled with CDs, all indie stuff, but I couldn't find any Pere Ubu on it. I could tell by looking over the shoulders of the people in line ahead of me that there was an album, an old fashioned vinyl album, that Thomas was selling for fistfuls of green cash, and I breathed a sigh of relief when I saw a display card confirming that VISA and MasterCard were also being accepted. (Blogger's note: The band's website features an "Ubutique" that sells such swag, but it does not accept credit cards.)

By the time I got to the table, everyone else in the club was gone... except a guy in a Porter Paints cap who looked a lot like a character actor I've seen many times on television but couldn't put a name to. There were two copies of the album left, unshrinkwrapped but in mylar sleeves, and upon learning that the album wasn't being sold anywhere but at live shows, I bought both copies.

Then I said to David, "I sure would like to have these signed by the band."

"No problem," he said, carrying them off... presumably to find the band, whom I figured were having beers in their dressing room.

After awhile, I looked around and saw David Thomas lollygagging on the floor of the club, signing the album covers with a brightly colored Sharpie. He wasn't only signing his name, he was signing everybody else's name too -- switching the Sharpie from his right to his left hand if the member whose name he was signing happened to be a southpaw.

I yelled, "Hey, don't do that! That's dishonest!"

He yelled back, "No, it's not! I sing for all these guys!" *

That's when I woke up, realizing that he had a point.

To make this utterly personal dream somewhat more relevant to the readers of this blog, I should mention that Pere Ubu have been making personal appearances over the past few years in which they've provided a live underscore to the Roger Corman movie X - THE MAN WITH THE X-RAY EYES. You can read a bit about the project's background here, and you can actually hear one of the live performances in its entirety by clicking on the movie title link found here (heck, synch it up at home with your DVD and make a night of it).

If you do this, make a point of going to the Ubutique and buying something from the band for real. I just learned that they've issued a 5.1 mix of their first album THE MODERN DANCE, and I'm going to Amazon right now to grab my copy.

Is this the future of commercials? People speak to you in your dreams, causing you to buy their products when you awake?

* My friend Brian Gordon once met David Thomas in a club. He walked over and said he'd like to shake his hand, and David said, "Sure, just let me put my change away first." God knows how many years later, we both still think of that line with amusement... but what David said to me in my dream seems to me equally amusing, and more profound in the bargain. Dreams are funny.

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