Fandom Lenses

Life as viewed through silliness, Fandom as seen through Reality

We Made Him Laugh! (The Monkees in Tulsa –AGAIN!!!—June 30, 2016)

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2016-06-30 19.58.23

My pink Party Hat. Which will become relevant to the story.

I didn’t expect to take Melanie to the neighborhood grocery store, but there we were, grabbing sodas and snacks to take back to her hotel room after the show, and then… I remembered. We were in the spot where I was when I found out Anissa, the Frodis Femme who made me laugh, had died. Well, not exactly in the same spot. I got Cin’s message standing over by the eggs. But close enough. And I wouldn’t know Melanie if Anissa hadn’t died. Because Anissa died, and then PTFB (maybe even PT himself, though the logical part of my brain doubts it) posted a sympathy message and then I dove back down into the Monkee hole to process my grief and I met a cool lady who was writing a book about a TV show about a band and then I offered to help fact-check said book and we became good friends in the process and I brought her on to Zilch shortly after I joined the team and Cin and Mich and I named her a Frodis Femme and then she came down to see the Monkees play IN MY TOWN.

All because of what happened over by the eggs.

I shared all this with Melanie. There was a long, weird pause as we stood near the chips, dips, and root beer, pondering the connection between the loss of an old friend and the gaining of a new one. And because that was way too many feels to comprehend while buying a case of diet soda and some cookies, we promptly changed the subject, checked out, and hightailed it down the block to the Hard Rock to be there for the rest of the Zilchers who were coming to the meetup.

~~~~~

The official events of the evening started with a Zilch Nation Meetup, at a casino restaurant next door to the box office of the venue. Melanie and I hung out with a dozen local members of the podcast community, chatting away about Monkees and everything else. It shouldn’t surprise me anymore that there are so many Monkees fans, even in Oklahoma, but it does. I thought of the lonely, confused girl I used to be, and hoped with all my might that she knew what was occurring this evening.

The Zilch buttons Ken made were a hit, and we handed them out throughout dinner and to fans waiting in the line at the door. Thanks to the casino presale, I was able to get some awesome seats in the third row, just off the left aisle (this will become relevant shortly), and we were pretty much in the sweet spot as far as distance from the stage. In addition to Melanie, Jen, and I, my friend Tamara and her husband Dustin just happened to get the seats right next to ours and right on the aisle. As always, the pre-show playlist was lovely, including Love’s what I want from the Good Times! Bonus tracks, and what we were pretty sure was Neil Diamond singing Love to Love. Unfortunately the pre-show goodies also included the video normally played at intermission, which was a strong clue that we would be getting the shorter casino-friendly setlist, which indeed we did. Fie, FIE upon the Tulsa Hard Rock! I’ll think twice before seeing another show there, although the venue itself is quite nice with a good sound system and nice big TV screens.

No matter, even a compact 90 minute set provides plenty of time for good tunes AND good times. But I’ll get to that in due course. Here’s my recap of the show:

Listen to the Band: Nez still does it better. But not by as much as you might think. 😉

Last Train to Clarksville: Cleveland comments from earlier this month still pertain, but I was glad to see my hometown crowd getting into the groove. 😀

That Was Then, This Is Now: SOO…MANY….80s…FAN….FEELS… (Oh, and Wayne played an incredible solo, as is his habit 🙂 )

Saturday’s Child: The first song of the night featuring Micky on drums, I was struck by Rich and Micky’s skills in a way I hadn’t been before. Being closer and at a different angle than I’d been in a while, I had an excellent view of how Micky and Rich drummed in unison, with the former handling the basic beat and vocals and Rich handling the fancy stuff. This kind of performance should by all rights be a flam-ridden mess, but the two of them stay locked in unison song after song, night after night. It’s the sort of minor technical detail that we don’t think about in these shows, but yet more proof of just how much skill is up there on stage.

Your Auntie Grizelda: And then Peter did Grizelda, magnificently as always. If you were not persuaded by my #teamgrizelda soapbox speech in my last review, then you will never be. Onward. (side note—watching Peter sing Grizelda next to Melanie is almost as much fun as watching Peter sing Grizelda next to my husband. If only Kevin had come too… *sigh*

She: If it’s wrong that most of my attention was on Micky subtly testing the mic stand’s center of gravity for his traditional leaning trick, then I don’t want to be right. (at least he got some use out of those physics courses he took back in the day?)

She Makes Me Laugh: Now I’ve “met” all 3 living Monkees, all in official, stage-managed grip-grin-and-autograph circumstances. I have also had moments with each that I will treasure forever—from Peter Tork walking into our hotel breakfast buffet as I happened to glance at the doorway (nearly making me choke on my omelet in the process), to making Michael Nesmith crack multiple apparently genuine smiles at my conversation reception to dancing with my husband as Micky sang our song, As We Go Along.

But this…thank God Roseanne Cardoza got video evidence from the other side of the stage. Because not only would you not believe this without it, I’m not sure WE would believe it. the weirdness starts around 1:15.

Now, Micky’s obviously been working hard on the new songs, as this was even more solid than in Cleveland a few weeks ago. For whatever reason, he was over on our side of the stage, singing the first few verses. And for some reason he was looking in our general direction. And for some reason around the 1:15 mark, Melanie and I simultaneously reached up and doffed our pink Party hats (she was in the cowboy hat, I was in the fedora), just as Micky was singing about, well, Pink Party Hats.

And Micky cracked up mid-line and then POINTED RIGHT AT US.

You read that right.

Melanie and I (and probably Tamara too) made Micky Dolenz Laugh.

DURING “SHE MAKES ME LAUGH”.

ACHIEVEMENT UNLOCKED.

I’m sure the rest of the song was quite lovely, but frankly I was dumbstruck in my seat, feeling rather like I did back in 2012 in Bay City when I looked up from my omelet at the exact right moment and saw a bedheaded Peter Tork amble in for a bowl of Granola. Because apparently I live a life now where stuff like that happens every so often.

A Little Bit Me, a Little Bit You: I recovered from THAT just in time to hear Peter unveil a new-to-me joke! (“If you don’t recognize this song, you’re probably in the wrong venue.”). And so it was.

The Girl I Knew Somewhere: Don’t tell Nez, but Micky sings this better. Sorry, have heard them both do it multiple times, it’s incontrovertible truth. Jen and I sang along all the counterpoint lines, and not for the first time, I wish we’d known each other as kids. We were both lonely, awkward Monkee nerds who thought we were along in the wasteland of 1980s middle America, but we were actually much closer to each other than we knew. We’ve been making up for lost time in the several years since Tumblr brought us together, but if only… *sigh*

Also, I think I’ve mentioned, but Monkees Get Out More Dirt looks AMAZING restored. That blu-ray can get here any old time…

You Bring the Summer: Y’all are familiar with the new video, right? If not, this is required viewing.

Because the band did this song to the video, almost exactly in unison. They were maybe a second or so off at the end, but I can’t believe they even got this close. I don’t know if they use a click track or what, but truly magnificent for a song they played live for the first time like 3 weeks prior.

Shades of Gray:

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Courtesy Paul Undersinger–actually from the Town Hall NYC show but so poignant I had to use it…

Thank the lord I got the near miss with the PTSD meltdown out of my system in Cleveland—this time I was able to enjoy this song for the wonderful poignant classic it is. Every time I’ve returned to the Monkees (and Shades of Grey) over the years, the song seems to have accrued another layer of meaning. I was terrified of what life would hold (or not hold) for me the first times I heard it, when I was on the brink of puberty. In those years, the song gave me a way to grieve the loss of innocence every kid that age has to grapple with in one way or another. I feel a gentler, less paralyzing version of the same uncertainty now, on the brink of my forties, enhanced by more losses and an increasing awareness of my own mortality. The latest verse in my “movie of the mind” for this song seems to relate to a growing tension between Monkees Fan Me and PhD Librarian Me. Now, if I learned nothing else in The Year of Our WTF, I learned that I need both the fangirl and the striver in my life. However, with the anniversary festivities inevitably ending soon, the balance point will probably shift—I feel it shifting already in some ways toward a new and different shade of grey.  Now don’t panic, fair listeners, I’m not quitting Zilch or leaving the fandom or any of the things people assume I mean when I get in a pensive mood and start saying stuff like this. I’ve just always felt an obligation to squeeze as much joy into my life (and the lives of others) as possible on as many levels as possible for as long as possible. I didn’t fully understand what that meant till after Anissa died, but now I do. I have to put my energies where I can find (and make) the most joy and the most positive impact. 5 years from now I may well be spending much more of my time on things that are utterly unrelated to the fandom, but the Monkees will still put a smile on my face, even if it is, as times, the bitter sweet smile Micky and Peter exchanged at the end of Shades of Gray.

And that’s enough of my maudlin self-indulgence—but hey, at least I kept it way shorter than the first time I heard this damn song live. Yikes.

Back to the concert!

Papa Gene’s Blues: Still fun, still love the acoustic touches on this duet, still doesn’t compete with hearing Nez do it live. Three Different Times.

Look Out (Here Comes Tomorrow): My memory is fuzzy enough that I don’t totally trust it, but Monkees Live Almanac seems to verify that I DID hear Davy do this one back in 2001. Whether or not I did, I haven’t heard it since. However, Peter took this one to a hilarious place, almost making us feel a little bad for the plight of the song’s protagonist.

Almost. 😉

Randy Scouse Git: the Usual, hold the “Royal Family” anecdote, with a side of “The Colors! The COLORS!!!”

For Pete’s Sake: The usual wonderfulness done in the usual manner. A little more apology for renting their instruments, though. 😉

Let’s Dance On: I liked it in Cleveland and adored it in Tulsa. Performed at full-blast like the rough garage rocker it is, Tamara and some other folks who were right on the aisle actually got up and started rocking out in the aisle. 🙂 The only sad thing was they immediately went into the next song, verifying (as we had already guessed) that this would be the shortened intermission-free set.

Mary, Mary: excellent as always, and I love seeing Micky on Drums on this one!

Circle Sky: more solid than in Cleveland (which was still pretty damn good), I still don’t know how Micky drums and sings this one. Yet another revolution of their—and my– fabuloofy wheel of karma.

Porpoise Song: I suppose hearing this song done live may get old one day, but I seriously doubt it. One of the best things Goffin and King ever did, and Micky’s vocal highlight of the evening. If I know in advance that I’m going to my last Monkees concert, I will cry at this one. It belongs right next to Shades of Grey as one of my personal anthems. Many, MANY years from now (seriously, no rush here), I want this played at my funeral.

Oh—and Micky kept his hat on while drumming the outro this time. 😉  Also, kudos to (we think) Peter, who manages to do those porpoise noises in his guitar, and to Melanie for pointing it out. 🙂

Long Title: Do I Have to Do This All Over Again? One of the luxuries of seeing these guys so many times in the last few years is getting to notice how capably this band handles more technically challenging stuff like the signature changes in this song. Peter and company make it look easy. And then they slid almost seamlessly into the songbook’s other unabashed hard rocker

(I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone: Peter gave Micky some Kiss-esque tonge waggling during this one, making him remark “So gross!”. After he recovered from Peter’s scene stealing, he proceeded to attack the song in the usual proto-punk manner.

Words: Everyone’s still solid on the lyrics, and still a great duet from the two of them. My favorite version of this is still from the last time they played Tulsa, but this was excellent too.

Goin’ Down: No victims were plucked from the audience, a pity as I now make sure I remember the second verse before every concert after that near miss in Nashville. As in Cleveland, they picked this song to introduce the band, which made me sad to know the end was in sight.

D.W. Washburn: so glad this has become a setlist standard. It did not work at ALL for the 20-something Monkees, but the 70-something Monkees NAIL this “ode to the power of Alcohol”, as 35-years-sober Peter quipped.

What Am I Doin’ Hangin’ ’round?: After hearing him do it twice, I can definitively say Peter owns this song in the same way Micky owns Girl I knew somewhere. If Nez comes back after he finishes the book, I think he’s gonna have to arm wrestle Peter for it (and I think I’d put my money on Peter).

Daydream Believer: About halfway through this song, right after turning on my flashlight at Coco’s prompting, I turned around to see a sea of phone flashlights and screens glowing and swaying, a sea of stars in all our eyes, an effect captured so well in this video taken from the far side of the stage.


The power of the Monkees is no more or less than the power of friendship and community, a power that makes such trifles as fear and death look as insignificant as they truly are. This power wasn’t anything anyone planned, but there it is. And when it’s done right, as it has been over and over in these later years of the group, it’s one of the most beautiful forces in the world. High on that power, we all cheered and clapped enthusiastically as the band left and then swiftly returned for the encore.

Pleasant Valley Sunday: Not that I’ll ever forget Nez playing on this one (twice!), but Wayne takes it to some incredible places, as does the rest of the band.

I’m a Believer: No Shrek for the second time in a row—good Lord, maybe Micky DID hear we found the guy! But then that would imply he listens to Zilch or reads this blog, and both of those possibilities are too frightening a prospect to seriously consider.

And that was it. The end of my probable second to last Monkees show this tour. Maybe my second to last show ever, but every time I said that the last few years something else pops up. Jen had to head back to OKC, but Melanie and I didn’t feel like leaving. We lingered in the lobby for a while as Tamara’s husband Dustin bought some last-minute souvenirs, and Melanie and I even met some more fans of the show (including this tall guy who seemed REALLY familiar—oh well, I’m sure his name will come to me later). Every solo or group Monkees show I’ve attended since Zilch started, I’ve run into a few more fans. It’s exciting to know what I do touches so many people, but humbling to realize that this podcast has become so much bigger than us.

Maybe that’s a little bit like what it feels like to be part of the Monkees?

Anyway, neither Melanie, Tamara, Dustin nor I felt like heading home immediately, so we scoped out a quiet bar in a secluded corner of the non-smoking second floor of the casino, and spent the better part of an hour sipping drinks, decompressing from the show, and getting to know each other. Each show beings a different set of faces, a different town, and/or a slightly different vibe, but the connecting theme always seems to be good songs, good friends and, yes, good times. Just like the album. 🙂

~~~~~~~

The next day Melanie and I just hung out, the two of us. She’s a sucker for road trips (being the type of person who would drive from Dallas to Tulsa via Wichita Falls), so we drove in a big leisurely circle through some of my favorite bits of northeast Oklahoma, touring through the Osage nation to Pawhuska, cutting across to Bartlesville (with a brief stop at Frank Lloyd Wright’s only skyscraper), and then headed back home to record a few bits for Zilch (possibly the first time two Zilchers have recorded at the same microphone). Next was a dinner with my husband and mother and Law (as I suspected they would, JoAnn and Melanie got along immediately). Then, sadly, I had to drive Melanie back to the hotel since she was leaving early in the morning. Rush hour traffic was still pretty heavy the other direction, so I used that as an excuse to dawdle a half hour at the hotel before going home by the way of the grocery store. Kevin asked me to pick up some eggs.

The full implications of that didn’t hit me till I was most of the way to the grocery store.

Now I’m a grownup. I’ve got a PhD for heaven’s sakes! People who don’t pay much attention likely think I’m a normal human being. But if you saw someone take an extra moment by the eggs to glance upward, tip an imaginary pink party hat, and wink at the ceiling, now you know why. Because Melanie and I may have bought those lovely pink hats and decided to tip them at the appropriate moment, but I have no doubt in my mind that my smart aleck sister (perhaps assisted by a vertically challenged partner in crime) prodded Micky to look our way at that moment, helping us to make him laugh with out pink party hats.

As of now I have one more concert to go in the year(s) of the Monkees, November in St. Louis. Due to factors I’ll wait till later to share, I think this one will either be the hardest or easiest show of all to write about. But between now and then, I’ll talk to you on Zilch. 🙂

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