Live Review

My City Paper review by Brian Howard

Dead Moon/ Mecca Normal

Nov. 19, 1997 Upstairs at Nick’s

Sometimes it’s frustrating to be a music fan in Philadelphia, like when small crowds turn out for underground legends and revered art-rockers are disrespected by club personnel. Wednesday, Nov. 19 was one of those times.

For some reason the biggest name on this bill opened the show. Vancouver duo Mecca Normal started its set at the relatively early hour of 10, serenading a handful of largely disinterested drinkers. To say Mecca Normal’s live show is sparse—with guitarist David Lester’s herky-jerky guitar strumming gymnastics beneath vocalist Jean Smith’s piercing, siren-esque contralto and cryptic, poetic lyrics—is profound understatement. But when indie-legend Smith was informed that she had just played her last song and requested one more, she was flatly denied by the sound man. “We came all the way from Vancouver,” sniped Smith. “At least you didn’t fall asleep at the sound board, which was my only other experience at Nick’s. And this will be my last.” (Editor’s Note: In actuality, Mecca Normal wasted time at the beginning of their set and were already well over the set time when they were stopped.)

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