Sunday night marked the first time I stood in a near-empty Basement. Normally, this venue, with its dark, cramped interior, is tough to get to the bar through the mash of concert-goers, let alone get the attention of the bartender once you get there.
All of thirty people -- and I may be exaggerating -- came to the Ben Jelen show. Talking with Steve, the manager of the venue, helped clear up why. 1. It was a late add (only put on their calendar three weeks previous -- no time to really promote it); and 2. It was a Sunday. Two strikes.
Fortunately for the thin audience, the third strike wasn't a bad performance. Jelen came out, knowing there wasn't many people to sing to -- a blow to anyone's ego, especially after playing to sell-out crowds while opening for Pete Yorn for the previous three weeks -- but you wouldn't have known it. Jelen played as though the room was full -- and sounded great doing it. And he had a good sense of humor about the lack of concert-goers. At one point he asked the crowd, "Who's a friend of Dan?"
This was funny because the opener was a local guy named Dan Erb. And, by the whistles and applause that Jelen got as an answer, most really were friends of Dan.