What Good Luck! What Bad Luck!

Saskia Lane: Portrait with Double Bass

The main quality of last night was three simple hard-to-forget letters: hot. That’s hot, H-O-T, hold the L Baltimore, not hottie or hott or HOTS, just hot. H. O. T. Goddam it was hot. This was hot like all of a sudden you realize you’ve been in the steam room longer than you thought and your eyes are starting to melt. Drippy, sodden, slicky, squicky, sticky. Hot. It was downright caloric.

Because I was screwing around too much at the office I stayed late to finish up stuff I should have finished earlier (Bad Linus! Bad, Naughty Linus! Wrist => Slap), which left me late to Michal the Girl‘s CD release show at Rockwood Music Hall. Michal the Girl hints: girl, named Michal, pronounced Mike’ll, and a delightful creature. Don’t worry about the rest, it’s one of those sins-of-the-parents deals. “Hey! I know! Let’s give her a boy’s name, but spell it differently! What a cool idea! And turn on that lava lamp while you’re up.”

Michal has always been clever, spiky, and tuneful. Her new music embraces space instead of trying to fill it, and draws you in like a hazy murmuring day by the ocean — full of motion, forward and back. She’s got a big strong voice and not long ago she largely kept it leashed and heeling. Now she’s found her pride of stride, and my half of the set feels like the business end, with not a step out of place.

I love the Lascivious Biddies, and if you’ve seen them then you do too. In MusicDish this past spring I described them this way: “Poised somewhere between Rockapella and the cast of 42nd Street, plus keys and strings, Lee Ann and Amanda and Deidre and Saskia mix urban grit, urbane wit and girl’s-gotta-do cocktail dress style into a show that leaves us grinning wide with incendiary sophisticated glee.”

It’s all as true as ever, even crammed in close on the small Rockwood stage. That’s Saskia pictured above with her double bass in a moment from last night; click through and explore around for a few more Biddy shots on my Flickr stream. Everything the Biddies do is charm-packed and pulled off with cheeky style, except for the bits that are flat-out breathtaking. When their set is over, a giddy air of camaraderie hangs gently in the summer bloom.

At d.b.a. The Contingent holds court, and the Beer Grab-Bag (well, grab-bottle would be more like it) cooler is set up on the back bar: you get to fish around in there among the odds and sods from their basement bins for $3.00 a go with no peeking, or, well, no scrutiny but if you’re picky, and I am, they sometimes let a fellow take the occasional glance. I spy with my little eye a Dogfish Head label of some sort. Dogfish Head, out of Rehoboth Beach, DE, is one of the finest small breweries in America, and since I’ve basically never met a Dogfish beer I didn’t like I hook it out and squint it up to the light.

It’s not just a beer — it’s a Dogfish WorldWide Stout, a limited-edition dark roasty beer brewed, as the label says, “with a ridiculous amount of barley.” It’s hard to find, it’s glorious, it’s the strongest beer in the world (ranging from 18% to 23% alcohol, year to year), and it’s not the cheapest 12-ounce bottle on the block. But it is tonight.

Sean, who knows my beer habits from years on both sides of the bar, laughs. “That’s like drinking four pints, that is,” he says, as I set to on my prize. Later he’ll dare me to finish a half of Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Barleywine, which is fortuitously on tap (Christmas in July, you know), to wash down the WorldWide Stout. It’s an outrageously bad idea.

So what do I win?

About Linus

The man behind the curtain. But couldn't we get a nicer curtain?
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