Saturday, Jan. 29
When it comes to famous rock-and-roll kids, few intrigue the public>"/>
When it comes to famous rock-and-roll kids, few intrigue the public as much as Sean Lennon, who performed Saturday at the Crocodile with his band The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger. Watching the man set up gear and tweak his drum kit before the show captivated the crowd--a mixed bunch of old hippies and 30-something music geeks--with a curious respect. It was like being in the presence of some kind of bohemian rock royalty.
It's hard not to reference Lennon's mom and dad when talking about his work: The 35-year old is a perfect picture of John Lennon and Yoko Ono combined, with the rounded features of his mother's face and the masculine austerity of his dad's. And, let's be honest, the Crocodile scene isn't New York high society--it's just not in the nature of the typical Seattle music scenester to hobnob with such serious music bloodlines. So it was refreshing that no one called out any absurd Beatles requests, but also that Lennon has learned to downplay his high profile with a humble graciousness. When his girlfriend and bassist Charlotte Kemp Muhl recalled a Crocodile staffer who asked if he could buy Lennon a "shot of whiskey or a beer or something," she jokingly added his answer: "Could I get, like, a big cup of Bailey's?"
The evening progressed along those lines, with Lennon and Kemp Muhl trading good-natured jabs with the wit of a seasoned lounge act. Kemp Muhl played a variety of instruments (accordion, glockenspiel, melodica, acoustic bass) while Lennon sat at a pieced-together drum kit and simultaneously picked and pounded a tattered acoustic guitar. The tunes were a mix of vaudevillian jazz and indie folk, with whimsical lyrics bordering the psychedelic. Kemp Muhl, in a white sundress and fringed leather jacket, and Lennon, in a Sgt. Pepper-looking brass-buttoned peacoat, were the picture of the East Village, and the further they worked into the set, the more you were drawn into their strange, artsy world.
Haters be damned, it was hard to find something wrong with the act. Their horn player, CJ Camerieri, was a phenomenon, and added further to their quirky brand of camp--one that all could see carried a tune on its own talent. If anything, their stage presence was downright dorky. Between songs, while Lennon tuned both his temperamental guitar and drum set, Kemp Muhl explained that Lennon wanted to start his own (drum) pedal company called "Pedal File." For someone growing up with all the privilege and access Lennon had, his band--commonly known as GOASTT--has less to do with that upbringing than with honest-to-goodness charisma.