Wednesday night, Storm Large and her band (Not The Balls, Storm Inc, Dirty Mouth or Flower, the one that supported her for Crazy Enough) returned to the Bay Area for a 2 sets per night, 2 night residency at Red Devil Lounge.
We have seen Storm a good number of times in the past eight years. We first saw her at Bottom of the Hill in May 2003, shortly after her big move to Portland away from the Bay Area, but shortly before the founding of The Balls. At that “transition” show, it was Storm & Michael Cavaseno from Dirty Mouth playing songs from Storm’s Bay Area bands.
That first show, hearing such a beautiful but filthy voice and a lot of original songs, made me a fan.
The next time we saw Storm was around a year later. She was fronting the mashup heavy band The Balls, a couple of years before the concept of mashups was popular. The unique take on each cover was a lot of fun and original songs like I Want You To Die showed that Storm’s own lyrics were not lost in the project.
We saw The Balls a few times and then Storm just sort of disappeared. She’d play the occasional show in Portland but we couldn’t justify travelling up there to see her.
Then Storm Large got the biggest exposure of her career thus far as a finalist, ultimately placing fourth on Rock Star Supernova.
The Balls next show in San Francisco was at least a year after Rock Star Supernova, and suddenly Storm was riding a new wave of fans and while the band still did a lot of mashup style covers, the original tracks like Ladylike, Beautiful and Under were much more prominent.
The Balls were apparently working to release their third album, Blue, which would have featured Ladylike as the first single, before Rock Star Supernova. Instead a Storm Large album, Ladylike: Side One came out featuring some of the house band from Rock Star Supernova.
That was the last we heard from The Balls.
Storm next emerged in Portland with a one woman show, titled Crazy Enough. We were lucky enough to see the show in its entirety when we visited for another concert with Tori Amos the same night. The show told the story of Storm’s life set to her own music and several selected cover songs that were incorporated into her life story. It was a great experience.
Until this week.
Storm Large’s return on Wednesday was more a casual run through of songs that the band hadn’t played in months and a normal Storm rock show than anything else. It was wonderful to be there. Eric McFadden guested on two songs and even though we have seen Storm and Eric many times it was the first time we had the chance to see them together. Storm’s performance was full of energy and emotion and it was great to see a good rock show and forget about some of my own stress for a while.
They did a lot of songs from Crazy Enough but none of the story narrative to tie them together, divided over two sets with more covers thrown in.
One standout moment from the show was prior to Where is My Mind when Storm talked about how music got her through tough times and everyone has that one album that they can say got them through a tough time. Storm’s was Doolittle by The Pixies. Mine was Pearl Jam’s Ten.
I left the show exhausted but very happy.
Thursday night we did it all again.
James Deaton announced that the show was going to be very different from the night before. The first set was to be the one hour cabaret version of Crazy Enough. The second was to be a free-for-all with a bunch of special guests.
It started off strong with a good performance of an abridged version of Crazy Enough, but the bar crowd chatter made it not quite as good as the night before.
When they left the stage a good hour and twenty minutes or so after the one hour cabaret performance ended, I expected something pretty special in the second set. I knew both Eric McFadden and Michael Cavaseno were in attendance and who knows what other special guests we might get?
Instead we got Eric McFadden on one song and a quick departure, a long false fan-pandering dialogue where fans would ask for a song Storm didn’t want to play because “she is in the present” and they are obviously living in the past, some short improv “children’s songs” and the same shit we had heard the night before.
She did a duet with current boyfriend Michael Shapiro of Anything Anything by Dramarama and she did a cover of Elliot Smith’s Independence Day which probably would have been great had the obnoxious crowd not kind of ruined both songs for me.
The free-for-all was more a Storm does what she feels like then leaves, which left me slightly disappointed but very happy we went to both shows and didn’t just make the choice to go to Thursday night’s show.
While I was exhausted on Thursday and Friday at work, the shows were well worth losing some sleep over and I am glad we went.