Good Year for Bad Days

Their record company just dumped them; Fiesta Bowl sponsors think they're dips; but Tempe still love its Refreshments

Naffah looked up from the table and said, "I just want to rock."
Moments later the whole crew assembled in the courtroom--rockers, reporters, lawyers, the judge. Blush had his hat off for the first time in memory; the three musicians sat next to their lawyer, looking like three vandals who had been caught blowing up mailboxes. The lead Snell & Wilmer lawyer seemed pleased by the total victory and then read the proposed settlement agreement aloud to the court, ending by wishing everyone a happy holiday.

The judge thought it over.
"What about this happy holiday stuff? Do I have to have a happy holiday?" he asked. Then he slammed his gavel and the deal was sealed.

"This is what John Lennon would have done," Clyne said.
Then under his breath, he said, "I need a drink," and he retired to Long Wong's.

Exiled from Tempe, the Refreshments played a New Year's Eve show at the Hard Rock Cafe in Newport Beach, California, a free party sponsored by a local radio station.

The stage was jury-rigged from a dining platform behind a railing that led out to an outdoor patio. Blush and Edwards sat at a patio table backstage; Blush had his unplugged guitar in his lap and was strumming along to the music of the opening act, a local trio doing its best Pearl Jam shtick.

Blush turned to Edwards suddenly and asked, "You ever play in this band?"
"No," Edwards replied.
"I did," Blush shot back, and then started singing the next lyric along with the lead singer.

"Next we'll play the Black-eyed Pea circuit," said Naffah, who was leaning against the door to the stage. "This is a paycheck. We should be playing in Tempe."

Clyne passed around shots of tequila in clear plastic beer cups, and the band took the stage.

There were about 200 partyers in the bar, split between Refreshments fans, who hugged the railings up by the stage, and young folks who looked up surprised when one or other of the band's singles played, as if to say, "Oh, you're that band." Others were tourists in town for the Rose Bowl who had wandered in looking for a New Year's party, but spontaneous dancing broke out, nonetheless, in this least interested group.

The band's wives and girlfriends danced backstage. In the front row, a phalanx of young blondes who follows the band to all its California concerts stared lovingly at Roger Clyne. They hung on the rail and sang along to every song. Clyne tried not to look at them because they were a half beat behind, their lips moving like bad dubbing on the soundtrack to a Japanese movie, and he was afraid he'd lose his place in the song.

The stage was level with the crowd, separated by a pair of railings six feet apart. Clyne later commented that he'd rather not have a barrier between him and the audience.

"I like the stage about this high," he said, holding his hand three feet above the floor. "Then the audience's faces are right there, almost in my groin."

He didn't mean it the way it sounds, but the straight line was quickly pounced on.

"That about sums it up, doesn't it?" a wag asked.
"Yup," Clyne parried, "and then they applaud."
For the last chorus of "Banditos," Clyne turned his microphone toward the audience to do a familiarity check. There was a healthy volume:

"Everybody knows that the world is full of stupid people."
Clyne was not displeased. He put his hands together like the Dalai Lama, and nodded with a smile to say thanks.

After midnight, the crowd thinned out by half, leaving only the diehard fans.

The Refreshments then did what any self-respecting rock band would do. They picked up the tempo and turned up the volume and kicked ass.

Contact Michael Kiefer at his online address:

« Previous Page
My Voice Nation Help
Phoenix Concert Tickets