By Adam Lovinus
By Lilledeshan Bose
By Gabriel San Roman
By Rachel Mattice
By Stephanie Zacharek
By Daniel Kohn
By Nate Jackson
By Mike Seeley
All That and a Side of Rock
Will your favorite fast-food joint or furniture store be the next target for the Will Crum Guerrilla Garage-Rock Implosion? (Hmm . . . Target . . .)
Wendy’s is known for a few things: square patties, Frostys and the dipping of French fries into said Frostys, a practice I’ve always considered abhorrent but seems to be popular.
Live music, though, is pretty far outside the chain’s comfort zone—which made Orange County rocker Will Crum’s performance last month at a Costa Mesa Wendy’s all the more special and, quite possibly, the most exciting thing to hit the restaurants since the advent of the Baconator.
Crum and his entourage slipped into the joint mid-afternoon on Jan. 25, without any employees knowing what they were planning; soon, he and drummer Levi Prarie were delivering a short set of Crum’s tunes—full drum kit, amp, mics, the works—to a crowd pleased to have musical accompaniment to their baked potatoes and chili. Rather than kicking them out, the staff enjoyed the show, both for the spectacle and for the fact that customers dug the performance.
The Wendy’s gig was the first of many such “surprise” shows in the works for the singer, thanks in large part to the efforts of his manager, Geoff Shivley.
“We were sitting in a fast-food restaurant up in LA,” Shivley says of the sneak-attack concerts. “Will and I said, ‘Dude, this would be an awesome place to play a show. We figured out the logistics over the meal.”
As well as the Wendy’s show went, it was just a prelude to another renegade show. Not wanting Crum to be typecast as a fast-food troubadour, Shivley had a much bigger target in mind: the massive theme park of inexpensively priced Swedish furniture known as IKEA.
“I was obsessed with IKEA at one point,” confesses Shivley. “My whole room was IKEA. It just seemed like such a fun place for music. IKEA has a lot of people at all times and really cool faux-settings.”
While the Wendy’s was small and uncrowded, a Sunday afternoon at IKEA in Costa Mesa involves droves of shoppers and oodles of employees unlikely to be hip to Crum and Shivley’s escapades. After the Wendy’s show went off surprisingly smoothly (Shivley calls it “extremely peaceful”), breaching the IKEA would not be nearly as easy. So the gang designed an elaborate scheme they dubbed “The Swedish Job”—complete with code names—in order to make it happen, including drums and amps covered in yellow IKEA bags and transported in carts, a spilled-coffee distraction and placing balloons over security cameras.
“It was just kind of like building a fort when you were a kid,” Shivley says.
Crum and company managed to set up on Feb. 15 in one of the store’s fake rooms (a kitchen) and, bewilderingly, play three numbers before finally being asked to leave and having the cops called on them.
“An employee came up to us and asked us what we were doing,” Shivley recalls. “‘Do you have permission?’ I said, ‘Sure! Have your manager come talk to me.’ It took the manager three songs to come find me.”
Having won over bewildered bystanders—who chanted, “One more song!” as the band made their getaway—Shivley considers the day an unmitigated success despite the near-brush with the law.
“Publicity is nice, but this is fun to do, too,” he says. “We’re keeping it really fun and not so serious. Did we really need to use code names? Come on.”
The possibility does exist that it could, ultimately, be the wrong kind of publicity, distinguishing Crum not for his music, but as “that guy who plays at wacky places.” Shivley’s not sweating it.
“I would be worried if the music wasn’t so good,” he says. “We’ll just keep changing and keep it going. Will’s got soul. He’s one of the best musicians I’ve met in a long time.”
Shivley also sees these unsanctioned shows as valuable community-builders, citing shoppers helping his team evade security at IKEA and the management at Wendy’s wanting a picture with the band after their stunt.
“It’s more about the community than it is just us,” he says. “Something cool is going on in Costa Mesa and Orange County. It’s been going on a long time. It’s not like we’re starting it.”
But they are planning on continuing it, with Shivley making clear they have “some more stuff in the works for sure.” Nail salons? Laundromats? Adult bookstores? No one’s safe.
Visit Will Crum online at www.myspace.com/willcrum—before he visits you!