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 Pere Ubu in Austin, pt. 1
Author: Michael Toland 
Date:   05-19-17 10:22

Some of y'all might recall that I interviewed David Thomas a few weeks ago. Despite a shitty Skype connection, I ended up with a lot of interesting material. You can find my print piece here (yes, it's short - we usually have only 300 words for lead Show Recommends) and an expanded, Q&A style online version here (the editor prefers the online interviews to be only 1000 words, so we usually cut the lines of conversation that appear in the print version).

Thomas plays with Rocket From the Tombs tonight and Pere Ubu tomorrow night. (Local bands open each show, while improv jazz follows both Thomas performances.) Last night kicked everything off, however, with an improvised house concert featuring Thomas, Ubu/Rocket drummer Steve Mehlman, Ubu synthesist Robert Wheeler and Rocket/new Ubu guitarist Gary Sisperko (called a Cleveland legend on the Ubu website - I know him from a fairly forrgettable alt.country band called the Whiskey Daredevils). Thomas read stories and "pieces" (like Thomas, I hesitate to call them "poems") from a notebook, giving the musicians vague, often non-musical instructions (like telling Mehlman to play like a river of blood slowly moving forward) and filling any empty space with deadpan quips. I was expecting him to be somewhat taciturn, but instead he smiled and laughed a lot, even with the band didn't give him what he wanted. It was an interesting hour, and I don't mean that as a euphemism.

The performance was in the foyer of the house, with the "audience" (about 25 of us, invitation only) in a sort of spare living room off the kitchen. Afterward, my pal Greg and I went to check out the merch, which was set up in the backyard. I met Thomas' manager, with whom I'd been in contact for the last couple of months to set up the interview, who in turn introduced me to Dave. He was sitting on a bench in his suit and hat, clutching his cane, with his head hanging, like he was sleeping. He lifted his head and shook my hand, but did not encourage conversation, seeming to fall back in on himself like a deflated balloon. He did sign the copies of New Picnic Time, The Art of Walking and Song of the Bailing Man I bought at the merch table, though, drawing a little doodle next to each signature.

One of the items for sale, which I didn't buy last night but might tomorrow, was a double vinyl concert called Live at the Longhorn, recorded in Minneapolis in '78 or so. Any Ubu nerds know anything about this? I'm just wondering if it's a legitimate release of a legendary bootleg or something.

I know house concerts are a thing everywhere now, but with local promoter Austin Jukebox bringing the band(s) down just for these performances, I still thought to myself, "This is one of the reasons I still live in Austin."

Ubu has a new album coming out later this year, by the way. Thomas talks a little bit about it in the interview.

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 Re: Pere Ubu in Austin, pt. 1
Author: Heff 
Date:   05-19-17 12:36

Great article and writeup. Tonight and the next night should be good.

Michael Toland wrote:

> He was sitting on a bench in his suit
> and hat, clutching his cane, with his head hanging, like he was
> sleeping. He lifted his head and shook my hand, but did not
> encourage conversation, seeming to fall back in on himself like
> a deflated balloon.

He looked like that when he came out to sign stuff last year. Actually, he looks so frail coming out to perform that I always think this has got to be the last time he'll be able to do this. Though maybe it's all a plan like fellow Clevelander Jim Brown after being tackled.



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 Re: Pere Ubu in Austin, pt. 1
Author: Michael Toland 
Date:   05-19-17 12:42

It was such an interesting contrast. He didn't seem frail at all during the performance. But afterward, man - it was like a puppet with his strings cut.

I assume he'll be sitting for tonight's show. If the YouTube videos I've seen of performances from a couple of years ago are correct, he sits for Pere Ubu shows, so I'm assuming it'll be the same for Rocket. I'll be curious to see if that affects the energy.

I should also mention for anyone who hasn't seen recent photos or YouTube videos that he's lost a TON of weight. He's not longer a big fat guy. I was surprised to see him walk around with a cane, since he actually looks healthier now that he did the last time I saw him.

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 Re: Pere Ubu in Austin, pt. 1
Author: MrFab 
Date:   05-19-17 20:46

The man actually told you:
Quote:

itís actually kind of a good question.
And to think you were terrified. Well done!



Post Edited (05-19-17 20:47)

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 Re: Pere Ubu in Austin, pt. 1
Author: STEVE 
Date:   05-21-17 20:54

pere ubu should be played in every foyer (there's that word again ) and bathroom in the rock & roll hall of fame.

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