Im Dating Club Mesa

Friends of Desire (formerly Paul and Lara)
Club Mesa
July 21
You know how sometimes you break up with someone, but you still hang out with them and even have sex, and before long, it's as if you never broke up because, really, you never did? You just went through the emotional hell of a breakup? Well, that's how it's beginning to feel with Club Mesa. I think I got sad for nothing. I thought the place was closing, which was supposed to be the end of an era because the owners of Memphis bought it and were going to change it into an upscale jazz/lounge club (or something like that) called Detroit. And yet I keep going there, and it's still Club Mesa. It's a little cleaner, and the carpet that was alive with things normally found on the bottom of your shoe is gone, but other than that, nothing's changed. By God, I think I'm still going out with Club Mesa!

At least I was on Saturday, when Blue Whale (who I missed but heard were great) and Paul and Lara played.

I have this friend who used to get all twitchy whenever he talked about Paul and Lara. It offended him that the brother/sister duo would record and perform their beautifully quirky pop songs with a drum machine. “They need a live drummer,” he'd say in this creepy way that was so frighteningly intense it was more like this: “They! . . . Need! . . . A! . . . Live! . . . DRUMMER!!!!!!!!!!” If only Passionate About Live Drummers had been at Club Mesa. Paul and Lara now have a live drummer! And a bass player! And a guy who sits there and plays congas and other percussive things! And Paul, who plays keyboards and guitar and sings! And Lara, who plays keyboards, dances and sings! Actually, I think they've had this live band for a while, but this might have been the first show for which they displayed a new name: Friends of Desire.

Paul and Lara have run the gamut of names, you see. At one point, they were Antenna Force, but that incarnation broke up. Then they were Paullara, but Paul felt they sounded too much like a clothing company and Lara didn't get a capital letter in her name. Then they were Paul and Lara, which they liked because it announced, quite clearly, who they were and also made it clear to any musicians joining the band that they would be joining Paul and Lara's band because Paul and Lara are the rulers of their own musical universe and have been writing songs together forever and have their own system that works quite well for them, and that's why they're called Paul and Lara, not Paul and Lara and the Live Drummer and That Other Guy and His Friend We Met at a Party. Whether Friends of Desire signifies a new kind of band democracy, I'm not sure. The stage setup is still reminiscent of Paul and Lara's Paul and Lara days, with Paul and Lara front and center and the bass player, drummer and percussion player in the back.

A word or two about Paul and Lara's amazing, model-perfect good looks: they have them! They are chiseled, hot, stylish and sun-blessed. Usually you don't get that. Usually you get the Carpenters, who had enough good looks for, like, one good-looking person, but split up, you got just two okay-looking people. Or you get Donny and Marie, both of whom look like gophers. Or you get Pee-wee Herman and Chairry, one of whom is a zany goofball with a delightfully off-the-wall sense of humor, and the other is a large easy chair.

For a while, we called Paul “Cute Paul” behind his back, but after meeting his sister and discovering it was a family phenomenon, we began calling him “Genetically Correct Paul.” I don't think he knows about this. But I bet he does now!

Friends of Desire opened with “1000 Genevieves,” a great song that Lara apparently wrote after meeting a bunch of sorority girls at a USC party. When Lara sings, she dances across the stage in this jerky-yet-fetching way, kind of reminiscent of a go-go dancer, or someone imitating a go-go dancer. Sometimes she dances over to Paul and then kind of dances in his vicinity, at which point he looks at her in this ever-so-slightly irritated way before he goes back to singing or playing keyboard or guitar. In between the songs, while Paul was tuning or adjusting something, the rhythm section would go into these really cool, slow jammy things. I don't know if these are parts of songs or just rhythms or what, but I was almost sad when they invariably got cut short so the band could go into the next song.

Paul's got a rare pop sensibility: he never writes or plays crap. Never! And the line between pop and crap is a fine one. But Paul is firmly on the side of pop, not crap.

Which is how I truly feel, although I didn't drive, and my friends dragged me out of Club Mesa before Friends of Desire were finished, and I think Paul saw me leave in the middle of his poppy-not-crappy set, which made me feel kind of like a turd since I was enjoying them.

But I'm sure I'll get to see them again, since apparently nothing goes away. My prediction for Next Place to Not Go Away: Linda's Doll Hut.

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