Let Me Entertain You: The Baseball Project @ World Cafe Live 9.15.09

The promotional billing for this show was a little misleading. Posters proclaimed The Minus 5 with the Steve Wynn IV, performing songs of The Baseball Project. To the unfamiliar, that might seem like an awfully large amount of people to be cycling through the stage, but in reality it was what I believe to be the future of concert performance. When showtime came, four people ambled out onto the stage. Four. That’s it. However, with those four people came the songs of no less than five individual bands (not to mention a few solo ventures). Scott McCaughey (indeed of The Minus 5, but also of Young Fresh Fellows and R.E.M.) may have been hiding behind his Wayfarers the whole night, but the band’s joy was easy to see. On the opposite side of the stage stood Steve Wynn, who has operated mostly as a solo artist since his days in the Dream Syndicate. Also representing Wynn’s band was drummer/wife Linda Pitmon who, though stuck behind her kit for the two sets, added a delightful character (not to mention some great harmonies) to the group dynamic. Rounding out the band was the stoic Peter Buck, best known as R.E.M.’s guitarist, who is one of the few permanent members of The Minus 5.

The only actual group that these four are in together is The Baseball Project, whose debut album, Frozen Ropes And Dying Quails, did for the American past time what Sufjan‘s Illinoise! did for the Land of Lincoln. That is, McCaughey and Wynn plumbed the depths of baseball’s unusual and often dark history to spin tales of forgotten pitchers, arrogant outfielders and the very first free agent. Almost all of the songs from Frozen Ropes were represented during the night’s sets, with the list of perfect game-hurlers in “Harvey Haddix” updated to include Mark Buehrle. Most of the baseball tunes were preceded by remarks about people selling their Phillies tickets to come see the show.

Aside from the baseball songs, the group performed some Steve Wynn classics (namely the Dream Syndicate’s signature “Tell Me When It’s Over,” complete with Peter Buck on 12-string Rickenbacker), several songs from the two most recent Minus 5 albums, my favorite song from the new Young Fresh Fellows record, and an attempt at Badfinger‘s “No Matter What.” As you might guess, that last one didn’t work out so well.

Goofy covers aside, it was an unusual and unique experience to see this band perform. Sure, artists often perform songs by their own old bands at concerts, but having four people who have played in so many bands (including each other’s) increases the unpredictability and freewheeling nature of the performance. If more artists try this out, then maybe our economy would pick back up as audience members get at least five times as much entertainment for their admission.

Click the picture at the top of this post to see more of The Baseball Project in concert!

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~ by E. on September 16, 2009.

One Response to “Let Me Entertain You: The Baseball Project @ World Cafe Live 9.15.09”

  1. HERE are some live clips of the Baseball Project from that show.

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