Pigeon poops on Kings of Leon. Band quits after 3 songs. Peter Case still rocking.

Peter Case at Off Broadway

Photo by Annie Zaleski

I have nothing against the Kings of Leon. But then I’m not a pigeon.

The Hitchcockian surrealism of what is surely to become a legendary rock & roll debacle — well-coiffed rock band cancels mega outdoor show after overdose of guano — may be this weekend’s news alert, but 25 miles east, in a club in old St. Louis, a grizzled rocker and a young pickup drummer reminded a room of 50 people why songs, stories and spirit still matter.

Santa Monica, Cal. native Peter Case probably shouldn’t be touring at all, given that he nearly died from a genetically doomed heart last year, and as he has a history as leader of power pop icons the Nerves and the Plimsouls, a catalog of much-covered songs and steady work as a producer. You’d think that would be enough to take it easy at age 56.

But here he was back at Off Broadway, where he first performed in 1988 or ’89, playing a duo set with Joe Meyer, a drummer he met for the first time that afternoon, and delivering classics like “Everyday Things,” “Million Miles Away,” “Two Angels,” and “Entella Hotel,” the latter being the kind of song you can hang a lifetime of songwriting on, save that Case has a couple 40 more where that came from.

Which is where, exactly? Even if he knew he wouldn’t say, though Case is one of those observers on whom nothing is lost, as evidenced by the short and touching and hilarious passage from his rock & roll memoir As Far As You Can Get Without A Passport that he read midway through the set and demonstrated by his initial confession that he “doesn’t have any Chuck Berry stories” (when I requested one), but he told two good ones anyway, before leaping into a flawless cover of “Nadine.” Case’s voice is torn up a bit with the years, and with every song he looked more and more like Dave Van Ronk, but his big postmodern red and black guitar rang out, he riffed on Eddie Hinton and his new songs, primordial rockabilly-and-blues-gut-checks, were cool and dauntless and cagey and real. Rock & roll case closed.


  • Ken

    So what else is a band guano do?