The Henry Clay People @ The Echoplex 08-17-13

Live Show Reviews, Mouse's Musings, Music

This past weekend at Echo Park Rising was the (For Real This Time!) “Last Henry Clay People Show”. Andy got into AFI, Joey got into Harvard grad school (!), the remaining HCP alumni have families or other bands… you know how it goes.

(Photo lovingly stolen from the Ashley Jex instagram)

I remain convinced there will be other shows — what’s this, the third or fourth “Last HCP Show” blog post on CGT? There will be a one-off in a few years, or maybe Joey will come home from Christmas and they won’t be able to resist. I doubt we’ve heard all those songs played live for the last time.

(Goddamn, all those songs.)

Putting that aside, there was a certain kind of finality to the show. My friend Travis Woods, and others I talked to, kept referring to it as “the end of an era”. Cliche as that may sound, it’s probably true. There are precious few bands left from the HCP’s 2007-2010 cohort; the cycle has run its course and there’s a new crop of acts playing out to a new crop of 20-somethings with lost souls. This isn’t a bad thing. Bands can and should burn to the ground. You need some California wildfires to keep the ecosystem healthy.

The Henry Clays — the classic lineup of Joey, Andy, Noah, and Eric — sounded great. It was one of their best, a pro-quality show, both raw and adept. I’m trying to remember, I think it was the fanciest light / fog show I’ve seen the HCP play with. Actually, I don’t think I’ve ever seen them play with fog before. The set had a weird dream-like quality, a future-that-never-was where The Henry Clay People were actual rock stars in a world where rock music still actually mattered. (I’ve started to believe it doesn’t, really.)

They did not play a career retrospective. There were no songs from Blacklist the Kid With the Red Moustache. All those great songs rejected from the Somewhere on the Golden Coast recording era remained buried. They played the songs from For Cheap or For Free that earned them local acclaim, plus the loudest stuff from the next three releases. All in all the set was how I’d like to remember them.

(May I take a moment to admire the evolution of the Henry Clay People? They started as a weird Pavement-y slacker band, then simultaneously went through an Arena Rock Bruce Springsteen / Countrified Rock Bar Band phase [as a seven-piece!], and then they played glam rock [ugh], before finally settling into being a kind of punkish-indierock band that really knew how to play its songs to their strengths — and they did all of that without ever really losing their identity. This is no small thing.)

I watched from about eight rows back. (The Henry Clay People played my wedding, how much more can I possibly take from them? Let someone else stand up front.) The vantage gave me more perspective on the attending crowd, and I thought a lot about the people there. In all the drunken slobberknocker HCP shows I’ve attended, I wish I’d spent more time thinking about the crowd. We all came from different places and backgrounds. Often times, our musical tastes only intersected at the HCP. Maybe those hundreds bar companions, sharing in spirits and music, many of whom I could never recall their names, weren’t friends… but they were kin.

If I were to do the CGT heyday years over again, I’d spend less time critiquing the music and more time interviewing and blogging about the people who go see the shows. (There’s a free idea to the 23 year-old aspiring screenwriter who just moved to Echo Park from the midwest and is reading this post.)

Bands come and go. So do friends. So do memories. (I’ve drunken into oblivion at least five HCP shows alone.) But I think the kindred spirit of those Henry Clay People shows will live as long as our bodies. I’m left with warm fuzzy feelings, and a sense of admiration for all the things they accomplished.

So let us set the Henry Clay People ablaze, push their burning bodies out to sea, and enter their spirit into the Hallowed Halls of Local Legends. It was such a joy to catalog their exploits in the annals of this site.

The Henry Clay People @ The Echoplex 08-17-13 setlist

  • Something in the Water
  • Slow Burn
  • Switch Kids
  • Keep Our Weekends Free
  • Two By Two
  • The Honey Love He Sells
  • Anymore/Any Less
  • Backseat of a Cab
  • Rock and Roll Has Lost Its Teeth
  • California Wildfire
  • Every Band We Ever Loved
  • This Ain’t A Scene
  • You Can Be Timeless
  • Andy Sings!
  • Working Part Time
  • Born to Run