20 Miles with the GINGER MINGE at the Horseshoe, February 13. Tickets: $8.50. Attendance: 35. Rating: NN Rating: NN
Putting up with Carson Daly's inane banter one night and watching mod holdouts the Ginger Minge flub through the motions the next, Judah Bauer is learning that this bandleader stuff ain't as sweet as he imagined.Not only does every review carry the nagging reminder of how cushy he had it as Jon Spencer's dishevelled sidekick, but now he's forced to play shows in the middle of winter -- in the Great White North, no less -- when he could be sleeping off a hangover in some runway model's Lower East Side loft.
The baggy-eyed Bauer looked too beat to be concerned about the embarrassingly poor turnout. In fact, it was probably a relief knowing that only a few forgiving fans would see him blundering through the first 20 Miles show with his newly hired European rhythm section of bassist Brian Lackey and drummer Franz Hausammann.
As for the performance, well, it was really more of a paid rehearsal, with Bauer trying to lead his bored-looking trainees through the shuffling rudiments of the entire 20 Miles and Bauer Brothers blooze rock repertoire. "If you aren't getting quality," he quipped, "you're at least getting quantity!" Yet the night wasn't completely devoid of entertaining moments.
Bauer hasn't seen the inside of a soft-seater in some time, but he's clearly still in the rock-celeb mindset. He felt compelled to switch guitars after every song and then compulsively re-tune by ear the instrument his tech had just tuned seconds earlier.
Even stranger was Bauer's attempt to play an acoustic, which had him tenuously fiddling with the strings like he'd never held one before.
When it finally appeared that he had the thing tweaked to his satisfaction, he said, "Thank you," and put it down.
I was just as surprised as everyone else to learn that he'd been playing a song. Now that's comedy.