The Bootleg Theatre—a self-described “speakeasy”—reeks of inauthenticity. Actually it doesn’t reek, it breathes: artificially cold air exhales out of beautiful state-of-the-art vent systems while life-punishing CFCs pour into our poor planet’s atmosphere. Which makes refreshing the $6 Stella you just bought and makes bearable the awkward, jittery house music we could have all lived without. Not that authenticity was to be expected—this is a Fold show after all—no matter how much you want to stick to principles, Bootleg’s creature comforts prove to you we’re just animals: give us cold beer and a cool room and we’ll happily oblige.
Low expectations both shield you from disappointment and make way for pleasant surprises, the first one being openers and beloved B52 worshippers WEAVE! A friend of mine once incorrectly observed that our generation—through fashion, music and art—is reliving the ’70s. Not true, we’re reliving the pre-Reagan ’80s, if anything, and WEAVE! are a fine band to help us plod our way through Carter’s malaise.
Next up was James Pants, who also surprised because A) he’s from Spokane (my family’s desolate eastern Washington hometown) and B) he was totally content channeling Gary Wilson’s spirit as he performed songs designed to—as he said—make you feel alternately good and creepy about yourself.
By far the night’s biggest surprise, though, was seeing James Pants and co transform into the backing band for Gary Wilson himself! Gary didn’t seem to mind—he was decked in red and green capes, packing tape, baby powder and blow-up dolls as usual—but the magic wasn’t there. Even Mary—frequent collaborator and friend of Gary—seemed incapable of making the night shine no matter how many times she recited spoken word and sprinkled baby powder over Gary. Something was missing. Perhaps it was the real Blind Dates from Endicott who are normally a fixture for Gary but tonight were nowhere to be seen—or even Gary himself. Maybe he saw through our air-conditioned bodies and into our souls and realized that we’d just paid $12 to get into a venue nowhere near as purifying as the roof where his last Los Angeles show took place. Maybe we betrayed ourselves, and Gary was in no mood to forgive us. We’re animals, after all.