American Beauty is three story bar and venue with foosball, pool table, and free pizza made in an oven on the second floor. The last show I saw there was Hayley Jane and the Primates opening for American Babies. On that occasion, walking through the large glass doors into the expansive bar/ seating area I was greeted by what should have been a talkative bunch of locals drinking on a weeknight in midtown. Everyone was distracted by the TVs. Not sports, not news, not an award show; what could distract everyone? Bob Ross. Halfway through a lovely winter scene, he was painting a happy little tree and the crowd was captivated. To my delight, it was one with an oval mask, my favorite. I would have loved to stay for the big reveal but Hayley Jane was waiting. Then came the next distraction.
On the way to the show I was telling my friend Acer about a club I used to visit in the area. We tried to find it but couldn’t. I suspected that American Beauty was in fact that venue but with a new name and some modifications. In the mid-1990s, it was known as Downtime and on Saturdays, the top floor was a goth club called The Batcave. One particularly exciting event there was a night after a Phish show at MSG just two blocks away. My friend Meridian and I each ate close to an ounce of mushroom each and thoroughly enjoyed the Phish show. Afterward, my parents met us and still had energy so they suggested we go to Downtime. No joke. The issue for Meridian was that he missed the transition from the Phish show to the goth club. To him, the leather clad, pale, and intimidating dancers on the fog-filled dance floor, were a clear indication that the world had ended and this was life in the city. Further evidence for this was my parents drinking at the bar. Later in the evening, I found Meridian passed out on a couch next to someone holding a bottle of amyl nitrate under his nose. Overall I miss that scene. The intimidating crew was really quite nice and most nights culminated in a gaggle of us in the bathroom discussing Dune lore and favorite movies.
Anyhoo, I didn’t realize it was the same venue till the end of the Hayley Jane show. American Beauty is now more of a jamband venue and that’s what brought me in tonight. The dead cover band Reckoning was opening for the Phish cover band Multibeast. I only caught the last song by Reckoning (Shakedown Street) as I was at an earlier event hosted by 2020OrBust.org (well worth a look). The Shakedown was a good version and I wish I had caught more of them. They snuck in a Bathtub Gin tease and that got me excited for Multibeast even though I’ve never seen them before either.
Multibeast is a supergroup made of Wiley Griffin from Teddy Midnight, Chris DeAngelis of Kung Fu, Jeff Mann from Consider the Source, and Shoeen Owhady from Uncle Ebenezer. Their non-stop set comprised a stack of high energy hits including some more challenging songs few other cover bands attempt. The midweek crowd danced in their office clothes; No wooks for miles. Hot as hell but compared to the Portland Phish show 2016 is was mild.
Overall, the show was perhaps the best Phish cover set I’ve heard. While the performance was not a meticulous recreation, the jams were solid and the energy was wonderous especially knowing this was only their third show. Keep a lookout for their next gig and in the meantime, try to avoid shrooms at a goth club.0 likes