At some point I will give up trying to explain why the scene here is so amazing, so valuable to me; at some point, I promise I will. But then there are shows like last night, where I end up laughing my head off and wailing “But I don’t understand what’s going ooooooooon” and enveloped in hugs from people I love better than best. (“Neal, you smell fantastic.”) There are shows like last night, where Bob Boilen has been raving about Lost in the Trees on NPR for the better part of the year, but we’re the ones who got to see Ari Picker sing “You’re A Mean One, Mr. Grinch” while one of his occasional bandmates, painted green, menaced the small daughter of one of Ari’s other bandmates.
Christy Smith tearing up “Blue Christmas” and then doing “Merry Christmas From The Family”, both of which she absolutely killed. And the connection to the outside world: most John Darnielle fans are familiar with his live cover of “Merry Christmas From The Family”, but most people probably don’t know that it was performed at the original first ever Christmas at the Cradle. In the Year of the Pig is probably the only band who will bring two drummers to play grungy, noisy, mostly instrumental Christmas music. Cassis Orange had a keytar. This is the third year I’ve gone and nobody’s done “River” or “Fairytale of New York” before this, but Filthybird and the Old Ceremony, of course, were the bands who should have been doing them, and since Will and Martin never repeat a local band on the Christmas at the Cradle lineup, I just had to wait until the right bands came along to hear those songs. (“I just had the weirdest conversation with Django.” “What about?” “I don’t even know.”)
I cut business deals on the patio, standing in the misting rain, drinking PBR in cans. The dBs covered the Chipmunks’ Christmas song and the audience, all of a particular generation, sang it right back at them. All Jonny wants for Christmas is me and t. “Mike Mills will drink you under the table if he’s ordering scotch.” Seamus singing about how he won’t be home for Christmas and he doesn’t want to make out with you. It’s my friends who have become family in the last two years, it’s warm and funny and a complete trainwreck half the time, and it’s always perfect.
More photos — a lot more photos — behind the jump.