Two First Impressions of One Band
The Flying Luttenbachers

By Andrew Lyman

I have now seen the Flying Luttenbachers twice. They were the first band I went out to see in San Francisco and they are now the first band I have been out to see in Chicago. I am a newcomer here. Forgive me, but I quite enjoy your city. I do not mean to impose, but I hope it’s all right if I live in your neighborhoods, work on your streets, eat at your restaurants, and go to your shows. Eventually, I will start putting back into your community, but for now I’m taking it all in.

So I saw the Flying Luttenbachers the other night at the Subterranean, which is a great venue, but you already knew that; I didn’t. Now I do. I also saw the Flying Luttenbachers a year ago at the Hemlock Tavern in San Francisco. This is of particular interest because the Luttenbachers are originally from Chicago, but transplanted to San Francisco around the time that I did. Now that I’ve come to their old town, I get the pleasure of seeing them in their primordial soup as it were.

Both Chicago and San Francisco have long proud histories of off-beat vibrant music scenes. Chicago, so far, seems much more proud of theirs. San Franciscans all dismissed their scene with a roll of the eyes and a “yeah, I guess.” The few kids I have talked to in Chicago so far have enthusiastically affirmed the quality of their scene. Mostly commonly in the form of “Yeah man, Chicago is awesome.” I am beginning to understand the sentiment.

Back to the Luttenbachers, there was no apparent preference on behalf of the crowd. Both towns met the Luttenbachers with a cocktail of intrigue, boredom, confusion, and irritation. Weasel Walter was much more antagonistic with the Chicago audience, shouting a great deal and eventually playing through a mild heckling. Heckling was nowhere to be found in San Francisco, despite an hour-and-a-half-long set and a long slow jazz/ classical composition read off of sheet music. The San Francisco show was just the Luttenbachers with their then guitar player opening up with an extended wail set to a walkman cassette player hung from his belt. It was a paralyzing fifteen minutes of musical speed and technicality. The beat on the tape player served to verify that it wasn’t being made up on the spot. The band was relaxed (for them) and played a long, friendly set.

Weasel’s irritation with the crowd in Chicago was apparent, repeatedly telling “douche bags” to “fuck off” and “shut the fuck up.” The display did little to allay my perception of Weasel as a snot-nosed teenager with a knack for drums and complex compositions. But watching the Luttenbachers play, it becomes immediately apparent that Weasel can’t just be a wank. He laughs and jokes with the band. He improvises and throws in new parts. He smiles, and plays, and they all play off of each other as only the best and tightest of bands can do. They really are something of a spectacle to behold; more of a musical feat than anything else. You quickly understand that you are an inconsequential part of the performance.


All opinions expressed by Andrew Lyman are solely his own and do not reflect the opinions of Stay Thirsty Media, Inc.

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