This afternoon, I stumbled upon the new World Party CD. While looking through the Nashville Scene, I saw an ad for their (his?) upcoming show at Mercy Lounge. Excited about that, I typed "World Party" into my digital music service to listen to some of the early stuff. And there at the top of the discography list was Dumbing Up. I am listening to it now and it is pure heaven. As leader Karl Wallinger always does so well, he makes music that sounds like the best Beatle-esque material from the 1960s while never sounding anything but contemporary.
I'm listening to "See The Light" now and am remembering my one great World Party night from the early '90s. My friend Angela and I went to see them open for 10,000 Maniacs at Starwood Amphitheater. The show was good, the lighting was very professional and the sound was crisp, but they were the opening act and didn't play a very long set. However, Karl mentioned that they would play another show later that night at Nashville's famous Exit/In.
Quickly, I found a payphone and called the local sponsoring radio station, WRLT, and asked the d.j. if I could get on the guest list. "No problem," said David Hall. And so, Angela and I watched the Maniacs do their thing and after the concert I dropped her off (not a World Party fan), and picked up my girlfriend (not a World Party fan either, but she wanted to come for some reason).
With one World Party show already under my belt, we headed down to the Exit/In for another. As good as the earlier one was, this later one was the stuff of legend. Where Starwood was spacious, Exit/In was packed and cramped. Where Starwood was outdoors where we all felt the light breeze in the air, Exit/In was a small, closed space with not much ventilation to speak of. We were sweaty and we were smoky and there was no other place we would have rather been.
Karl and gang took the stage and played rock 'n' roll with the passion and energy that no one seems play with anymore after too much success. It's been too long ago for me to remember just how long the set was or what they played. I only remember being among the lucky few hundred. I remember seeing a few of my friends who had not been at the earlier concert but had gotten hot tips and made it out. Elena was one of my coworkers and I saw her moving to the music high above the crowd. I don't know what she was standing on but she looked like a vision of absolute beauty, standing so much higher than the rest of us as she leaned against a column over by the bar.
The night had started at 7:00 and it must have been 2:30 in the morning before we made our way out to our cars on Elliston Place. Nashville had once again proved itself as a haven for musical greatness. You can hear the greatest stuff for nothing here, any given night of the week. And I write this now hoping against hope that I can afford to see World Party when they play my city once again on May 21.
Back then, I had one kid, paid cheap rent to a friend, and a worked a job that didn't pay much but gave me all of the stuff I wanted for free (concerts, CDs, free drinks at listening parties - oh, the swag!). Now I'm all grown up with a wife, three kids, a mortgage, and a job that doesn't pay much and provides no swag. But this upcoming concert is only $12 at the Mercy Lounge, so I should be able to swing that. And you should, too.
World Party website
World Party blog
World Party at Mercy Lounge
Mercy Lounge website