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August 16, 2001: Barenaked in the back of beyond

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Last night we went to see BareNaked Ladies in concert - and what an amazing show! They seemed to be having a wonderful time (and if they weren't they were doing a pretty darn good job of faking it). They sang a wide range of songs from all of their albums, and even tossed in a few new ones, just to give us all something to look forward to for the next album. Between sets, they'd break into stand-up comedy, and even the occasional ad-libbed song, including a rather hysterical number about bugs in California. We sang along, we danced, we laughed, and we had fun.

The show was well worth the money, the drive to get there, and the nearly two hours of pre-show bands we had to sit through. Their opening act was The Proclaimers, a band known for exactly one song in this country (that would be "I Would Walk 500 Miles", featured in 'Benny and Joon'). Apparently they're bigger in the UK than they are here (which would suggest that perhaps they were a two-hit wonder over there? Who knows). They were preceded by a woman in a rather unattractive jean skirt decorated with huge pink applique flowers who had a beautiful voice, but seemed capable of singing only one tune. Oh, she tried to pretend they were different songs by announcing different titles before she started it again. It was a lovely tune the first time around, but not quite so lovely after half a dozen renditions of it.

The amphitheater where they played is located in the middle of nowhere (or the middle of Yuba County - take your pick). It took over an hour to drive there. We'd left early, intending to find someplace nearby to eat dinner. We even passed by a little hamburger grill on the way (and what a place! Hamburgers, shakes, fries, and to top it all off, they were selling weaner pigs! As in real live baby pigs. We're talking right smack dab in the middle of farm country, folks). Turns out we had to keep on driving even further after we reached the amphitheater before we finally wound up in one of the tiny little towns in that area and chose a small local restaurant, purely at random, at which to dine.

It was about what one might expect from a small-town diner. Canned green beans, instant mashed potatoes, salad composed entirely of iceberg lettuce, and everything on the menu either deep fried, or swimming in some sort of sauce. When I asked how the fish of the day was cooked, the waitress gave me an odd look. "Grilled," she replied, with the 'how else would it be cooked?' implied but not spoken.

Despite the fact that the food was mediocre, it was still a good dinner. It's always fun to eat in places like this, with avocado-green covered chairs from the 70's, flowered vinyl on the tables, and faded wallpaper on the walls of what appeared to a converted mobile home. You just can't find an atmosphere like that in any town with a population over a few thousand.

We drove home with Maroon playing on the CD player, still singing along. Next time they come to town, we'll definitely be back.

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