The Knitting Factory, Spokane, Wash.
Friday, April 22
Last week, I posted a list of reasons why readers should drive>"/>
Last week, I posted a list of reasons why readers should drive to Spokane to see G. Love and Special Sauce play the Knitting Factory. It contained some clearly hyperbolic statements about the region that were added for effect and style and not based on any truths other than some long-held cliches and worn-out jokes. Within minutes of posting, the entire town of Spokane rallied to drive me out of the blogosphere like a monstrous, list-making Frankenstein. To those readers (from the comment thread, it appears a good portion of Reverb's readership resides in Spokane): I am sorry if I rattled your tender sensibilities, but in case you've never read satire before, we were just having fun. Zombies? Baby-killing truck drivers? SIMMA DOWN NA!
In light of the shitstorm I stirred up, I feel a bit of my own commentary is in order. No matter where you live, people--Spokane, Capitol Hill, Detroit, New Jersey--someone sometime is going to make fun of it. No place is exempt from this, and it's certainly not unique to Spokane. Americans get verbally shat on by Europeans, Tacoma gets shat on by everyone, and, yes, Spokane gets shat on by Seattle. But the shit flies our way too: The visceral comment thread that unraveled in response to my post revealed a gang of cyber-sentinels poised to counterattack with "Seattle sucks!" the moment "Spokane" and "meth" appeared in the same sentence.
Sure, it sucks when someone dogs your town, but being able to shake it off is the first line of defense that eventually kills the jokes once and for all. Some advice, Spokanites: Suffer the jabs like everybody else and don't take yourself too seriously. It's no secret the best laugh is often at someone else's expense, but we've all played that role at one time or another. (Though if you really want to hate on a place, have a field day with Newark, N.Y., the one-horse town where I grew up. It's pretty much where carnies go to die, and as far back as I can remember has had as many meth labs and rednecks as Spokane is famous for. So get on that, commenters!)
With the thread of angry comments multiplying by the minute, my boyfriend and I headed out early Friday, stoked for the show but downright apprehensive about entering the lion's den. I formed an alias (lest someone discover my identity and stab me with a dirty needle at the show), and paid with cash all weekend. Our hotel was thoroughly charming and also conveniently across the street from the venue (again, should an angry mob descend on us in a flash). After a drink with some friends (we know people who live in Spokane too) at the hotel bar, we let our guard down and headed out to dinner.
After an exceptional meal at Mizuna, a local organic restaurant, we arrived at the Knitting Factory to a beaming all-ages crowd milling around the floor. Self-professed to be "stuck in the '90s," I found myself in good company as the vibe was definitely not hipster-chic Seattle: a hacky-sack appeared; someone smelled like a campfire. But while Seattle clearly exceeds in fashion, our live shows can be cold, danceless events, and this was simply not the case at the Knit Saturday. By the time G. Love and his four-piece Special Sauce took stage around 10 p.m., the crowd was chomping at the bit to bump and groove.
This was my first time seeing G., and for someone who was 15 in 1993, "Cold Beverages" was the anthem of my generation. When he busted out this defining jam halfway through the show, my hand found itself into the air, waving and pointing along in a sea of other hands. His 2+-hour set was filled with such gems--"Who's Got the Weed?" made an appearance--along with a good dose of covers including Peter Tosh's "Legalize It," Paul Simon's "50 Ways to Leave Your Lover," "Fire on the Mountain" by the Grateful Dead, and even Gangstarr's "Ex Girl to Next Girl" that morphed into a freestyle rap about Spokane.
Like Spokane, G. himself has been the brunt of jokes over the years, and his worst critics have called him a washed-up, past-his prime, hit-or-miss white-boy rapper. Watching his laid-back playing style, it occurred to me that he might not be as world-dominating as Jack White or as hipster cool, but that's not to say the man can't play guitar as soulfully, or connect with his audience, or even crank out a catalog of hits. G. Love simply rolls at a different speed, with different ambitions, and, judging from the unhurried pace of his show Friday, seems mighty comfortable with how things are going--with an adoring following to boot.
It's a fitting analogy for Spokane. Try as you might, "there's no comparing the two cities," said the friendly bartender at Brooklyn Deli. "Hardly anyone showed up the last time the Moondoggies played here, but Insane Clown Posse sells out every time they come through." Differences aside, I had a great time, Spokane. Next time I'm in town I'm staying at the Davenport (Amazing! Makes the Fairmont look like a Ho-Jo's!), and I'll definitely hit up Brooklyn Deli and Mizuna again. You have a right to be proud of your city, Spokane. Just give the wailing a rest and let it speak for itself.
Number of passed-out girls witnessed: 1.
The scene: All-ages, friendly, organized chaos, harmless drunks yelling at each other.
Party Foul: No TP by 10 p.m.!
Overheard at the show: "Y'all feelin' it tonight?" --G. Love during his encore that included "Baby's Got Sauce" and "Fixin' to Die."