I had never heard of Big Head Todd and the Monsters and I’m an extreme eclectic music junky! I was invited by a friend to attend their show at the Crystal Ballroom and stay the night at the new Crystal Hotel. Both are Mcmenamins establishments. Sounded like a lot of fun to me even though I was not a fan or follower of the band.
The Hotel states on their web site that if you stay at their establishment you will have early access into the ballroom. This is great news! So my friend and I make sure we get over to Ringlers, the McMenamins pub that’s attached to the Crystal Ballroom, in plenty of time for the early access line up and to our surprise, there is already a line of about 30 people snaking through the restaurant where people are trying to enjoy their meals. Rather odd and a bit rude. Not rude for us but for the poor diners! Now, come to find out, the reason the line was already so long was if you eat at Ringlers or have a drink there and show your receipt at the early access door you gain early access as well. So, the hotel guests are in the exact same line as the Ringlers diners! I find this to be rather false advertising on the hotels end. Maybe people book a room at the hotel just for the early access perk and now they find out all they had to do was buy a 5 dollar beer for the same privilege! So, we wait in line and mind you, the general public gets into the ballroom at 8. Now it’s about 7:57 and finally they start letting all of us in through the special door. It turned out fine in the end and we were able to be first up front and center for Big Head Todd and Roger Clyne.
I had never heard of Roger Clyne and he blew me away! Great musician, lots of fun and the people all around us were huge fans apparently for they knew every word to all his songs which was helpful because I could barely make out any of the words he sang, myself, but, that didn’t distract from his performance. This one man show had big energy. His band is Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers but he left the Peacemakers at home and put on an amazing show all by himself with his old beat up, obviously well loved, guitar and a harmonica which he wore for a few songs. I can now recommend catching a Clyne show if you ever get the chance. It’s like taking a giant step back in time, somewhere in a quaint bar on a beach in Mexico. He dressed the part.
By now the ballroom is packed and my friend and I are thankful we’re front row and center. The set up begins for BHT. The excitement is brewing! I have no idea what to expect. By the looks of things I’m guessing there are at least 6 different guitars for Todd. I lost count. Finally the band comes out and they look just like regular guys. Well, except for Todd. He’s wearing a big cool hat. To hide his big head? No, he did take it off to put on his harmonica contraption and got raves from the audience for revealing his head and a few jokes about it as well, all said with much affection! Everybody there loved BHT!! At the beginning of the show Todd announced he would be performing their full length LP Midnight Radio which was released in 1990 in its entirety. So, the show begins and they are great! I’m very impressed by Todd’s guitar playing abilities. He played a great solo during each song. Todd is an exceptional guitarist, switching out his many guitars throughout the show. Of course his roadie is doing the guitar hand off for Todd. He was a busy guy. Todd also has a great voice! As the fourth song began and to my delight, I knew it! The title, Bittersweet. However, even before Bittersweet I recognized Todd’s voice. It’s unusual in a good way. A voice that you hear and you will always recognize it in the future even if you can’t remember who it belongs to! Todd is fun to watch. The rest of the band becomes nearly invisible for they just play their instruments in the background. Not to say they are not contributing in a big way. They too are great musicians. The band: Drums, percussion, vocals, Brian Nevin. Bass guitar, and vocals, Rob Squires. Keyboards, pedal steel guitar, and vocals, Jeremy Lawton. Vocals, guitar keyboards, saxophone, and harmonica, Todd Park Mohr.
It was a great time and I enjoyed the bands very much and would recommend both Big Head Todd and the Monsters and Roger Clyne. As far as the Crystal Hotel goes, and that little glitch with the early entry, I now know what to do when I go to the upcoming Goyte Concert. Plus, it was really handy to be staying at the hotel because it was just a block away. No parking worries or long drives home after a great evening at the Crystal Ballroom. The hotel is very nice. The rooms are clean and the staff is very friendly and accommodating.
Sweet dreams Glenda.
Brian also saw BHT in the Bing Lounge. His review is here.
Words by Glenda, pictures by Brian
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