Tonight’s Agenda: Patti Smith at the Schnitz; Swine for cocktails & dinner
Patti Smith is proof you can still be cool at 69 years of age. Her concert at the Schnitz reminds one of how much we need Patti Smiths’ in this world. Not only because she makes my generation look cool, but she proves “People Have the Power” to take an inspiring political stance without doning weapons, threatening violence, or making proclamations of being a messenger of some god. Rather, she is able to express her ideas and beliefs from pure resolute determination using her personal powers of music and poetry. As I watch the events unfolding this week in Burns, OR or the terrorist activities around the world, I think Patti’s message continues to resonate. While not one to tout religion, by the the end of the evening, she had a lot of followers.
Her followers were blessed with Smith’s performance of her classic 1975 album “Horses” followed by the rendering of other favorites including, “Gloria,” Because the Night,” “Dancing Barefoot,” and “People Have the Power.” Smith continues to perform with her same wild eyed commitment. She continues inspire by responding to life with unique interpretations and then expressing those ideas in imaginative and provocative ways that have justifiably lifted her to the status of an American icon. Her power is always seemingly founded in a reverence and respect for life. Patti Smith continues to rock on with artistic approach that instructs us to never give up.
After the show we were off the “Swine” for cocktails and a bite to eat. We got lucky by arriving during happy hour. We forget, sometimes, that happy hour hopping is a great way of navigating the Portland bar scene which can be cost prohibitive for some. “Swine” is a whiskey bar and a sibling to the next door’s restaurant ,“Swank,” both located in the “Paramount Hotel.” The interior of this bar is rustic and comfortable with lots of wood and leather surfaces. Any level of wardrobe from casual to dressy works here.
The waitress warned us that the food menu can be a bit misleading as “Swine” has original interpretations of common dishes. For example, the Pigs in a Blanket I ordered was more like a smoky pork egg roll; it was really tasty. I also had Tators which were fingerling potatoes with a aioli sauce which were earthy good. There menu had other intriguing items such as Bacon Cheesecake, Deviled Eggs with Bacon, Mussels with a Burnt Tomato Sauce and Calamari, that left my stomach growling for more. I thought the prices were reasonable for a downtown hotel establishment at about $6-12 during happy hour.
While whiskey may be the focus of “Swine,” there are other non-whisky cocktails offered here that are equally satisfying if, like me, you are not a whiskey enthusiast. I ordered the “Vesper.” Later, I learned the “Vesper” was a martini created by Ian Fleming in his 1953 James Bond novel, Casino Royale. It contains both gin and vodka along with some other ingredients that I had never heard of before. According to Wikipedia, Bond describes this drink as “…very strong and very cold and very well made. ”Swine” carries on the Bond’s original prescription honorably. By the time I finished this luscious libation, my husband was looking more and more like James Bond.
Am I being unreasonable to expect people at a venue with seating, such as the Schnitz, to refrain from standing throughout the concert, blocking other patron’s views? There were a wide range of generations attending Patti Smith’s concert. Some patrons may want or need to remain seated because they are unable to stand for long periods of time, but this audience seemed totally oblivious to the potential needs of others.
I’m not complaining about standing ovations at the end of an outstanding performance. Many great performers such as Patti Smith deserve standing ovations. The problem at Smith’s concert tonight was the majority of this audience remained standing throughout the entire performance seemingly clueless and inconsiderate to patrons who did not have the physical capabilities to stand through an entire concert. There was one patron that I saw who required assistance walking to her seat, unable to ambulate independently. Her view of the concert was blocked the entire time by rows of people standing in front of her. There were other audience members with obvious knee problems who struggled rising from their seats in order to see Smith perform.
I have been at other Schnitz concerts where those who wanted to stand or dance during performances simply excused themselves and stood only in the aisles so as not to ruin the views of the other patrons who needed or wanted to remain seated. I cannot imagine standing up in a “sit down” venue without first making certain I was not blocking someone’s view. I thought Portland was about being nice. I was really disappointed in Portlanders tonight. I thought we were better than that.
My music over the years has gone from vinyl to tape to CD to digital. It is a mark of excellent music that I have purchased some performers in each of the media. Perhaps an even better criteria of the excellence for some music is the vinyl I wore out and I had to repurchase the album. Not a trivial thing 40 years ago when a $5.99 album in 1976 would cost $25.27 today.
There are very few albums that meet that criteria. Born to Run, Who’s Next, Sgt Peppers and Horses. Patti Smith is one of the great rockers of all time and Horses was her greatest album. She is touring, performing Horses and more. This is the second time we have been able to see her in concert.
There is nothing like seeing a goddess perform. At 69. David Bowie died today at 69, only 11 years older than me. It is hard to believe I was 18 when Horses was released. So much of the music of the last 40 years is no longer interesting to me. Albums purchased and no longer heard. Not Horses and not Patti Smith. Great music is timeless.
Her energy and enthusiasm is tremendous, almost as good as Candy Slice who I understand was Patti’s inspiration.
And she knows how to get the crowd going, almost one enormous sing along by the faithful. I often say Gloria starts with the greatest opening line in rock. My kids think I am pretentious, but the only shows I have been close to as a religious experience are Patti Smith and the Born to Run tour. I do find these mass rallies slightly unsettling, and I am always reminded of more sinister examples. Group think, even great group think, makes me uneasy
But the woman can spit. Jesus she can let fly with the saliva.
She finished the set with the Who’s My Generation, the lyrics slightly changed to ‘I hope I die after I get old’. Agreed. As a geezer it is good to see one of us old only in age. We see the Who in May. I look forward to hearing My Generation again.
Afterwords, since I had a night off, was food and drink, again at Swine. It has become our go to bar after the Schnitz. First time ever we closed a bar, the last patrons to leave shortly after midnight.
The next day? Groggy and tired. Maybe I am too old for this stuff. But I am not quitting. Too much fun and I can always rest in the grave. Thank goodness for coffee in the am.