By Molly Bergen – LAist – March 24th, 2009

      The voice rang out through warm Largo darkness, “FREE BIRD!” Jon Brion sighed like he was stuck on a bad blind date,but he’d asked for it when he began his set by announcing that he’d be taking requests. Opening for the Greg Proops Chat show the multi-talented musician was foolish if he thought his audience was mature enough not to do that. Shaking off the malaise Brion launched into the most beautiful instrumental version of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s hit I had ever heard. Jon Brion managed to make the guitar sing as if it had been possessed by Ronnie Van Zant himself.

      As the song picked up, did Brion launch into a blistering guitar solo that traditionally ends the song? Pshaw, that would have been obvious. Instead Jon Brion sat down at the piano and pounded out the guitar solo with a force that blew everyone’s hair back. When the song ended there was a moment of silence before the audience erupted into applause. With a grin Brion left the stage, leaving us all there to wonder if that was the opening act…we’re in for quite a show.

      The ebullient Greg Proops walked on stage a few minutes later and delighted the audience with tales of his recent tour. Was he off in exotic climes, riding elephants, and hiking the Himalayas? No, instead Proops enthralled us with tales of the hell that was entertaining potash miners in Regina, Saskatchewan, depression that hangs over Peoria, IL, and questioned why Delaware was even a state at all. (Which is something I had been pondering myself. I often wonder why it doesn’t just get absorbed by Maryland.) By the end of fifteen minutes, Proops had his audience gasping for air and wiping tears from their streaming eyes. Showing no mercy, he then brought out the big guns: his guests comedian, David Cross and the legendary drummer, Dave Grohl.

      While we were all drying our eyes, David Cross of Arrested Development and Mr. Show fame strolled out nonchalantly to hang out with Greg Proops. The format of the show is a lot like just hanging out in someone’s kitchen. There were two wooden bar stools in the front of the stage and Proops would have his guests sit, legs dangling, and shoot the shit. Cross talked about growing up in Athens, GA and sneaking into music clubs with his fake ID. And then Proops made the fatal mistake of saying, “I hear you live in New York now.” Perhaps I imagined it, but I swear I could hear the whole audience groan. Maybe that was just me, and the groan was audience-sized.

      Bringing up NYC in Los Angeles is like slapping someone across the face with a riding glove in the old days. The insult will not go unchallenged for the city’s honor must be defended. Christ, so they spent most of the rest of the time debating New York’s virtues compared to Los Angeles. I wish I could tell you more, but I mostly spaced out for this part having no interest in hearing this discussion again. Can we all just agree that both cities are wonderful? Is there not room in this country for both cities to exist equally? Good God. After beating that dead horse, Cross left the stage with the assurance that yes, Arrested Development the movie was on it’s way, drawing an enormous cheer from the crowd.

      Greg Proops’ final guest was Dave Grohl. The audience went bananas when he walked on stage. I nearly had a heart attack. (Full disclosure: Grohl has been on my wall since I was ten years old. He is one of the few men on this planet who make me hyperventilate uncontrollably.) And almost in order to make me feel better, Grohl began to tell stories about heroes of his that he had met. He met Eddie Money dressed as an oompaloompa on a flight once, and had been ignored by Larry Mullen, the drummer for U2 at a bar in Ireland in the early 90s. Apparently Mullen didn’t recognize him and later called to invite Grohl and the rest of Nirvana to hang out backstage at the U2 show. Long story short, Dave Grohl got trashed and ran into Larry carrying a giant wheel of cheese under one arm and his pants around his ankles, giggling maniacally.

      To end the show Dave Grohl bravely stifled giggles while reading Manowar’s masterpieces Gloves of Metal and All Men Play On Ten while Jon Brion accompanied him on the piano. He warned us as before he had even begun, “To be honest, I don’t like their music at all, but their lyrics are fuckin’ awesome.” Afterward Dave took his rightful seat at the drum set and joined Jon Brion in tearing the stage apart with a cover of Eddie Money’s Two Tickets to Paradise. They made that song sound actually…tough. As the curtain went down and the audience erupted, I just sat in my seat savoring the moment with just one thought spinning around my starstruck brain, “You can bet I’ll be back next month.”

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