New York City, NY August 15, 1994 review

by Michael Curry

Hi all,

I took the day off today (because I knew I wouldn't be getting home last night until at least 5AM) so I have time to write this rather long review/story about Milla's show last night at the Mercury Lounge. :) I'm posting it to both rfn and ecto.

I left my house at about 1:15PM, headed to Mystic to pick up my friend Cristina. Everything went as planned, and we made it to the train station in New Haven in plenty of time to catch the 3:54 train to NYC.

I had never taken the Metro North into NYC before, but it did turn out to be better than driving into the city. We arrived at Grand Central on time (5:46) and took a cab downtown to the Mercury Lounge (thereby avoiding any subway adventures). Though our cab driver was a bit of an idiot, we made it downtown in about 20 minutes.

The Mercury Lounge looked like pretty cool place, and we went inside to buy our tickets. Unfortunately the bartender informed us that the show was sold out!!! She suggested that we come back at 8:30 because they might be putting some more tickets on sale then.

Needless to say, we were rather depressed... or at least we were depressed once the shock began to wear off. We trudged uptown a little ways and found a nice little Japanese restaurant for dinner (chosen because there were actually Japanese people eating there), but though the food was good we were getting more and more depressed. I still had hope that we'd be able to get tickets, but Cristina was a bit more pessimistic. After we ate we walked back down to the Mercury Lounge, planning to just hang out until 8:30.

It was when we got back to the Lounge that our luck took a dramatic turn. As we got near I could see a man and and a couple of women (with their backs to me) standing in front of the place. The man looked strangely familiar... hmmm. We walked by them, planning to sit down and wait. As we walked by I heard a familiar voice say, "Hey... don't I know you?" I turned around and it was Milla! "Yeah, I'm Mike..." I started to say. "Mike from Woodstock!" said Chris (the man who I had thought familiar :) ), and Milla said, "Mike the Internet guy!" We exchanged pleasantries, and I introduced them both to Cristina. Milla and Chris were just leaving, and Chris said "I'll see you at the show," to which I replied, "Actually, we don't have tickets." "Oh, just a sec," Chris said and went inside. He came back out a minute or two later (Milla waited impatiently, having hailed a cab) and said, "OK, you're on the guest list... Michael Curry plus one." I thanked him, and then he hopped into the cab and left.

As you can probably imagine, this amazing turn of events had left Cristina and I rather stunned. We went inside the Mercury Lounge to sit down and collect ourselves, and discovered that there were already more tickets for the show on sale. Just to be safe I made sure we really were on the guest list (we were :) ), and then we sat at the bar while we waited for them to open the doors to the music area.

They sold a few more tickets, and at about 9:00 people started to line up to go into the music area. Cristina and I got in line with about 10 people in front of us, and I kept looking back to see if woj and Meredith had arrived. They appeared about 15 minutes later, and I walked back to talk to them. After the exchange of greetings I began my story of meeting Milla with "We got here at about 6:30 and they said the show was sold out...," which was probably a rather bad way to start out if the looks of horror on woj and Meredith's faces were any indication (sorry about that). I quickly explained that there were now more tickets on sale, and then returned to my place in line. At about 9:30 they opened the doors.

This seems like a good place to describe the Mercury Lounge. The front of the place was a long narrow room with a bar along one wall. At the end of this room was a set of glass doors which led to a large square room where the stage was located. The stage was set up along the far wall, tables along the two side walls, and the sound board in back. The center of the room was empty. Most of the tables were reserved (for record company people, Milla's management, and her friends) but we managed to get spots right next to the stage on the right side, and we also saved spots for woj and Meredith.

The opening act went on at about 10:15 (the show was supposed to start at 10). It was a guy with an acoustic guitar (later joined by a friend on a Hammond), and he was pretty good. The crowd was well-behaved, which it seemed was a pleasant surprise for him. During his second or third song the staff made people who had been sitting on the floor get up and move forward so they could fit more people into the room. He looked rather surprised when everyone started to stand up and move toward him. :) Once people were standing it became apparent that the seats we had weren't going to work, so we ended up perching on the backs of our chairs/benches.

Milla came on shortly after 11:00, and played until around 12:30 (I didn't check my watch, so these time are just guesses). While the band members had to shove their way through the crowd both during setup and when they took the stage, Milla came in from outside through the stage door.

The set was the standard one:

The Blue Goat
Ruby Lane
It's Your Life
Strange Behavior (new song)
Gentleman Who Fell
Bang Your Head
Precious Time (new song)
The Alien Song
Falling (new song)
You Did It All Before

Can You Bend Your Back Like This (new song)
In A Glade

When I had seen Milla July 7th in Woodstock she had been rather eccentric, a little nervous, and a little stoned. Last night she was eccentric, not at all nervous, and very stoned. The set was great (though as usual Milla had trouble with some of the high notes), and Milla was *very* talkative. The words woj used to describe her were "frosted flake". :) She talked before every song and danced around the stage. I thought she was wonderful! :)

After the show we waited (me, Cristina, woj, Meredith, and two other people that Meredith introduced me to... but whose names I've since forgotten) while the record company people went "backstage" (outside) and then left. The others got impatient and urged me to just go outside and talk to Milla, and after waiting a while longer that's what I did... I just walked across the stage and out the door. It turns out that it was a good thing they pushed me, because I don't think Milla was planning on doing her usual meet the fans routine.

I went outside and chatted with Chris for a minute, and he gave me an invitation to a private post-concert party. On one side it said had the Paper Magazine logo and a picture of Milla and said "COME PLAY!". The other side read, "PAPER and EMI Records invite you and a guest to join Milla at one of our favorite cribs for drinks and ice cream. Monday August 15th, BABYLAND, 81 Ave A (between E. 4th and E. 5th streets). Playtime begins at 11:30pm." I was more than a little stunned by this (sort of a theme for the evening in case you hadn't noticed).

Milla and her friends were hanging around out back having a few beers, and I walked over to her and said hi. "Hey everybody", she said to her assembled friends, "this is Mike. He's so cool... he does this Internet thing that's so dope." She then launched into a really bad explantion of the 'Net, which included it being just like AOL and me working for it. :) Then she mentioned hearing one of those "child molester on the Internet" stories that the media loves to write, and I had to explain to one of her friends that it was just bad press and that most people on the 'Net were really very nice. Anyway, I handed Milla an envelope containing printouts of all the reviews of her that have appeared on rfn (along with a copy of the welcome file), and she got really excited and seemed amazed that so many people had taken the time to write reviews of her shows. I asked her if she had had a chance to listen to Happy's albums yet, and she said that she hadn't been near a CD player since she got them . I was really hoping to get a good review that I could pass on to Happy.

I said I had to get back to my friends, and Milla glanced at the invitation in my hand and said, "I really hope I'll see you there." I just smiled, said goodbye, and went back inside. You see... I knew almost as soon as I read the invitation that I wasn't going to be going. My friend Cristina had to be at work the next morning, and I had to drive her back home. We could catch the 12:30 or 1:30 train back to New Haven, but I was already really tired (it was a little after midnight when I finished talking to Milla) and I knew that the extra hour could make the difference between getting Cristina (and myself) home safely or ending up wrapped around a light pole. It turned out to be just as well that I hadn't convinced Cristina to drop by the party, as the amount of smoke she inhaled at the lounge had made her rather ill.

Before I go any further I want to give a brief description of Babyland, the club where the party was being held. According to a review of the club that I read in the summer edition of Paper (the one with Milla on the cover), Babyland has sort of a nursery/crib motif. They have accessories at the bar like bath toys (and I assume rattles), and there was mention of water pistols and crazy foam. :)

Cristina and I caught a cab back to Grand Central (woj offered us a ride up, but because I had delayed so long before going to talk to Milla we were pressed for time) and made our train with two or three minutes to spare. It was a looong train ride and a loooooong drive home. I got her home a little after 4:00AM, and got home myself at about 5.

I had a *great* time (and so did Cristina), and it was well worth the time and expense of going into NYC. I want to thank everyone who mentioned the list to Milla!

Oh, Alfred... Milla said she gave you a message for me? As of this writing I haven't seen your review of the Toronto show yet, so I assume you're planning on including it with that.


PS: Still no word on those CTD tour dates.

PPS: There was no merchandise on sale... guess I'll have to wait until the CTD tour to get a t-shirt.