Saturday, July 2, 2011

Rob Delaney Live At The Cat's Cradle

Terry and I took a trip to Chapel Hill, NC, the epicenter of what has been one of the most fruitful independent music scenes (think James Taylor, Ben Folds, Superchunk, Archers of Loaf, et al), to see the hilarious and unnaturally tall Rob Delaney unleash a flurry of his trademark off-color humor. What we got instead was a Cavalcade of Stars-esque evening that speaks volumes about the collaborative artistic atmosphere surrounding the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill Triangle.

Delaney came out first, unleashing a barrage of his A-grade material. At points, I was actually crying from laughter. After this initial series of jokes, he called Mac McCaughan of the legendary Superchunk to the stage. McCaughan, armed with an acoustic guitar, ran through an even mix of old and new Superchunk with surprising results. While it was, obviously, in no way a Superchunk set, the solo-acoustic arrangements added a sort of earthy and rugged element to the familiar songs and provided for an interesting introduction to their new material. The big surprise, however, was what happened next.

John Darnielle of the Mountain Goats, a resident and rabid supporter of Durham, was called on stage and the two performed together. While I’m not as well-versed on the Mountain Goats as I’d like to be, Terry makes up for whatever I lack, and neither of us could identify the song. Darnielle mentioned that he’d wanted to do the song for awhile, but could never record it correctly. It was disarming to see Darnielle in such an intimate setting (a seated show with maybe 40-50 people). I had managed to say “Hey, man,” to him earlier without squealing like a girl, but seeing him onstage was a different feeling entirely. After Darnielle bowed and left the stage, Delaney returned.

He made a few jokes about how he’d love to write songs like McCaughan and Darnielle. He brought a thinly-disguised Jon Wurster (drummer of Superchunk, the Mountain Goats and half of the Scharpling-Wurster comedy duo) onstage, dressed as Gene Simmons, to help him on his song writing quest. This was the only part of the show that lacked, as the “Gene Simmons writes crappy music and has a lot of sex” joke wore thin, but it was redeemed by some truly hilarious fake KISS marketing gimmicks (including A-KISS-ted Living for those in their golden years).

After Wurster left the stage, Delaney finished strong with new material, including some epic tales of child creation and, naturally, consuming a child. At the end of the night, despite the crowds persistent clapping, there was no encore to be had (to be honest, I’m not sure if stand up comedians do the whole “walk off stage, wait, return” encore thing).

After the show, we hung around the entrance for a bit, making plans for the rest of our evening, when Delaney came outside. I managed to talk to him for a second (and of course, snap a photograph). It was only when we noticed his Mountain Goats shirt that he mentioned there was only about an hour’s notice of Darnielle’s intentions to perform and that he was just as floored about it as we were.

PS: Thanks to Mike & George for that incredible Fat Tire Circus poster and those magnets, you guys rock.

PPS: The evening’s plans were to drink fancy beers we couldn’t get at home (Terry chose Red Oak and I snatched up some Smuttynose IPA and some RJ Rocker’s) and tell Rob Delaney jokes to each other and, frankly, we succeeded in the biggest way possible. Big thanks to Samantha, Annie, Brooke and Josh for putting us up for the night.

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