Halloween is a time when the spirits of the past come and dance on this physical plane. At Bell’s Brewery on Halloween weekend 2011, Strange Arrangement played like it was 1976. Sounds and strings were Strange and solid gold. The Route opener of the Strange set was the opposite of the perfectly clear sky drive under the crescent moon and through the autumn leaves of Kalamazoo, Michigan. All in all it was a picturesque evening for the seen and unseen.
Glean Infusion opened the show and rocked the Boston Celtics 1976 championship gear. They wore the warm ups and the wide open bar room got warm as it filled with people. ‘Tis the season for indoor shows where the huddle heat of the herd gets us through it. Brushing shoulders and holding each other up, we emerged from the sweltering room in a fog of clamminess. It was just before the witching hour at 1 am when Bell’s kicked us out into the hallows’ eve night.
In the early summer time of this past June, I caught Blue Oyster Cult at town fest Prairie Days in Oswego, IL. The end-all-be-all of the show was obviously their big hit, Don’t Fear the Reaper. After feeding the kids tons of sugar and letting em loose, waiting in a line for an hour just to get hot buttered corn, riding the $15 rides, BOC made it all worth it with a little More Cow Bell. I had a fever, and the only prescription was More Cow Bell.
Memories have a funny way of getting better or worse with time too. Of course my evening with Blue Oyster Cult was not the greatest show of all time, but I like the catchy pop culture references and spending time with my family while sharing a good laugh is always priceless. When I talk about that illustrious summer night, it was the greatest show of all time. Then Saturday, October 29th 2011 came around. The foundation for a good time is having many good times before, they tend to build upon one another and gain steam as you go.
Because oh yes, on Oct 29th not only did Strange rock the Halloween theme of 1976, my favorite disco hits of all time, but then proceeded to give us more fucking cow bell you could ever dream of. Who was that afro wigged man?! It was a gut busting “oh no they did not play that! “kind of evening. From the time they walked out on stage in polyester plaid to the first costume change into Animal from The Muppets on drums to the addition of the strings section that completed the most jammed out funkdified version of Beethoven’s 5th that I have ever heard, I was getting my boogie on and bustin’ a gut. They would do an original tune in-between hilarious 1976 hits until the crescendo encore.
Jim Conry, guitarist said it was a real treat learning the actual lyrics to some of the songs. “You think you know them but then when you actually sit down to learn and practice these songs, it’s actually pretty funny.”
Evil Woman, You Sexy Thing, Rich Girl, Do You Feel Like I Do were intertwined beautifully with The Route, Bed Bugs, Highway, and a Polygraph and Freedom of 76 cover of Ween encore. I was wondering when Joe Hettinga, the keys man, was gonna rock that falsetto again. I saw a Strange show once when they covered MGMT’s Electric Feel and that high pitch young Michael Jackson voice needs to be showcased more often, in my humble opinion. No better choice than the song that inspired me to name my dog, Sasha. “My girl Sasha, looking good on the street…freedom…of seventy…six”
The arrangement of these crazy funky strange folks just resonates with me. Freedom of the body, Freedom of the mind… Strange Arrangement is a band comprised of four pillars to a house of funk that has a great back porch where the light is always on to come on by and have a song, have a hug, have a laugh. If building memories on a foundation of amped up enlightenment is human nature, 10 years from now I will remember this Halloween show as the greatest show, ever.