Who: Dick Dale w/The Makeout Room
Where: The Orange Peel
When: Sunday, Nov. 24
Opening act The Makeout Room performed their super-tight neo-British Invasion set around 9:20 p.m., prompting enthusiastic dancing and head-bobbing. The local five-piece did their stylistic ancestors proud, creating the atmosphere of an early-'60s concert-hall rock show inside the cavernous Orange Peel.
As surf-guitar master Dick Dale played a quick warm-up run backstage, the crowd -- composed of fans old enough to have heard Dale the first time around, and some too young to have known him pre-Pulp Fiction -- moved rapidly to the front of the room. When he did emerge, Dale provoked a startling, unwavering outpouring of adoration: Fans held out their arms, desperate to touch his hand -- or even a shin -- while pleading for one of his liberally distributed guitar picks as he plowed through a set of familiar medleys.
Throughout the show, Dale, as expected, double-picked with extraordinary speed on his gold Stratocaster, and executed guitar acrobatics, prompting a good chunk of the audience to join him on phantom instruments of their own. The self-important, guitar-grandstanding Yngwie Malmsteens of this world would have made similar stunts unbearable, but something in Dale's stage presence (he seems good-humored even when showing off), combined with the genuine, energetic affection of his fans, kept it all fun.
And that's even counting his series of novelty stunts -- a sort of "Dick Dale Talent Show." There was the four-armed drum solo (with Dale providing two of the arms), his trumpet performance, his walk outside while playing his guitar, and his Johnny Cash impersonation -- acts that, from less-compelling performers, could have been really, really painful to watch. -- by guest reviewer Nicholas Holt
"I like glass," muses George Glass, miming taking a long, deep gulp from an invisible vessel, then throwing the same phantom object to the ground in a strangely violent gesture. "You can break it and mess things up. It's fragile -- you can break it -- but it also has shards."
He pantomimes a quick slice with an imaginary fragment. "It's strong," he adds.
Under the name George R. Martin, the performer currently known as George Glass has independently released a half-dozen solo albums, most recently the heartbreaking, full-length i'm okay.
By whatever name you call him, though, he's been a staple performer on the local open-mic circuit for the past few years, slowly working his way up to the occasional status of headlining performer.
And yet experiencing Glass live is an incredibly uncomfortable experience -- sort of like watching an amalgam of Tom Waits, Malcolm Holcombe and a broken-down wino being channeled through both a solo acoustic guitar and a body barely old enough to drink.
His songs are disturbingly gritty, filled with long, mournful howls that somehow go beyond the typical realm of worldly disappointment and lovesick angst. His almost-innocent everyday demeanor drops away when Glass performs; beneath that veil is what appears to many people as a kind of violently self-destructive madness.
This isn't just hyperbole. Just a few months ago, it wasn't uncommon for the rail-thin 22-year-old to show up at performances with black eyes, multiple bruises, barely scabbed-over cuts and various other fresh wounds.
The subsequent rumors, remarkably consistent and too often repeated to be entirely false, centered on late-night drunken fights, obsessive love and constant battles with alcohol. Glass won't talk about that part of his life -- not on record, at least -- but he doesn't deny the truth in most of these tales.
His life experience, he admits, is the primary inspiration for his music.
"I kind of write how I feel, I suppose," he offers. "I don't really like the world, and I don't like most people. Everything that I write is something that's true; I don't really have much of an imagination.
"I used to lock myself in my room when I used to share a place with my old girlfriend," he continues. "She [would] get real upset because I was in there all day, and not paying attention to her. I would walk around all day with headphones on and not talk to anyone. But the music ... it was kind of like people, but not really."
As much as people are a mystery to Glass, his music's downbeat appeal is perfectly clear to him.
"Basically, I think that people really love an element of misery and a feeling of stalemate," he observes. "I think that people put themselves in those positions. I think that they love to be happy, and that they love to be miserable, but there is a certain happiness in being miserable, and vice versa."
"I hope," he adds with an inward-kind of laugh, "to make everybody as miserable as I am."
OK, but why?
Glass answers with a genuine smile. "Solidarity," he declares.
For more information on George Glass (formerly known as George R. Martin), visit www.goodluckcricket.com