Beck Jam: Live in Dallas
Beck brought his impromptu "Beck Jam" to Dallas last night, and I have to trust he meant it when he said that it had been the best show of the tour. It was too spontaneous, too loose not to be. The band's gear was still in New York, so they were forced to make do with borrowed percussion and some Korg superbox sampler apparatus. When Beck and his crew busted out on stage, you got the sense that he and the boys wanted to boil some socks a few last times before settling for the cold winter. Beck rolls with perhaps the most entertaining hypeman/pop & locker of all time, and the band was perfectly silly throughout--giddy most notably during the extemporaneous flows and three minute verses woven through classics like "Debra" and "Where It's At." Brian on keys/laptop wore illicitly shrunken track shorts and managed to provide gorgeous harmonies and textures, and then you had Giovanni Ribisi donning couture space cowboy garb and noodling away, weaving distorted textures into his brother-in-law's compositions:
It was all very shambolic and gratuitous, but completely succinct, with the lock tight rhythm section oozing a ridiculously thick groove. Beck seemed to be in rare form, even busting out "Loser" before anyone could drunkenly request it. The band did end up taking a few requests, and I think the highlight for me was the extended, half-improved version of "Debra" that included something about R. Kelly going into the hot-air balloon business. And, I have to admit that part of the appeal was how surreal it seemed to watch an iconic figure like Beck perform from about 3 feet away.
You can't exactly pinpoint one singularly cool thing about this show. It was a tossed off affair, and was cool well before a note was struck. Let's not forget that Beck proposed the soiree to his agents at the Creative Artists Agency Monday morning, somewhere in between Philly and D.C., en route to that Black Cat slot. After a solid day of crackshot event planning, and much chatter about placing Beck in a 300 capacity room, they settled on the ballroom at Gypsy. You never expect things like that to happen, but such is the great fortune that is wont to befall our town from time to time.
Approximate Setlist (from memory, not in any particular order):
Guess I'm Doing Fine
Nicotine & Gravy
I Think I'm In Love
Where It's At
Cell Phone's Dead
We Dance Alone
Taking photos was a covert operation, as the friendly Gypsy staff promised to confiscate any rogue cameras that made their way into the venue. Still, we got a few decent ones; view more photos from the Beck Jam after the jump...
...and as always, click for larger image: