Fragments from a Dictators show
Bottom of the Hill, San Francisco
Sept. 23, 2000
By Chris Baker
"It's so great to be here, in the place that brought us the Grateful Dead ..." (pause for the inevitable boos and catcalls) "... What's the matter with you people? Why are you so ANGRY?"
The anger in the new song Avenue A seemed genuine enough, though, with HD biting off the words with exaggerated care and spitting out the lyrics, about the gentrification of the Lower East Side neighborhood where he opened his bar ...
It's not what you do, it's what you say
And it's not who you know, it's who you pay ...
Down on Avenue A
I think HD vocally was strong as I've ever heard him, maybe stronger. He was certainly aided by the mix, which had the vocals dead-center and crystal-clear (although his mike failed for one song and he grabbed Andy's). But primarily I think he's learned to use what he's got for maximum effect. And what he's got now is like a finely-honed bludgeon ... and if that seems like a contradiction in terms, well, it's just another of the Sacred Mysteries of the Dictators.
(To an audience member requesting "I Got You Babe") "Thank you, thank you for remembering ... and I'll remind you all that Cher's part was sung by Andy ..."
"You know, they put us in with the punk bands, but really, what have I got to be angry about? I'm in this beautiful city, I'm up here, everyone's watching me, I'm getting paid, I'm getting laid as much as I want ..."
Andy, doing a double-take: "You're getting paid?"
"I was 16 years old, staying in upstate New York, my grandmother was looking after me ... we were out front of the bungalow, cottage, whatever they called it in the old days ... and we're grilling hamburgers ... and she just cooked the taste out of them, I hated it ..."
HD went into a spiel about grilling hamburgers with Grandma Manitoba, which led to a tug-of-war over the spatula, and thence to grandma going "on her ass" onto the ground ...
"And if I'd been a nice guy, I'd have gone over and helped her up, like they do in football ... but ..."
(someone in the crowd: "ASSHOLE!"
HD: "Yeah, that's right, you guessed it ... you win the contest ...")
"... But I went over to her, and stood over her, and I said Grandma ... learn your lesson ... this isn't just your grandson standing here ... I AM HANDSOME DICK MANITOBA ... and I AM RIGHT!"
"I hate to say it, but I'm turning into one of these old guys who doesn't like any of the new music coming out ... you know what my idea of a good new band is? Nirvana."
The false ending of Faster and Louder wasn't a false ending, this time ... those last four beats were dropped and instead Scott went into the riff for Sonic Reducer. Faked me out; the one time I saw Manitoba's Wild Kingdom, HD had jeered at those who started applauding before those last four beats ... "Now it's over!"
I had heard that the new instrumental from the forthcoming album was a surf instrumental. This didn't really excite me. Then I heard the song last night and it's absolutely beautiful. And it ROCKS.