Saturday, September 25, 2010

Rocking chapel: Uz jsme doma at Wesleyan

Just back from the second stop on Uz jsme doma's US tour, their first since 2007, and I've gotta say, man, aren't the Wesleyan University kids just the coolest? And I'm not just saying that because I'm afraid the little bastards will give me another shiner. No, I wear those colors under my right eye as a badge of honor. It's the first time I've gotten a black eye from a college student since, well, since I was a college student all those years ago, before most of them,  probably all of them, were born. And it's certainly the first time I've ever gotten a black eye in church. It's also the first time I've seen Uz jsme doma play in a church — Memorial Chapel, a 19th-century Gothic Revival brownstone, one of the most prominent buildings on the Middletown, Conn., campus: Pews, pipe organ, everything but the preacher. And, just a half-hour before show time completely empty, except for the band and two jocks from WESU-FM, which sponsored the show. You could hear your footsteps echoing through the building. Staked out my position in the front row, er, pew — comfortable, cushioned. A pretty strange experience, though. I've never been "comfortable" watching a punk show. You're not supposed to be. 

The place started filling up, slowly, just as Betty from WESU's "Fists in Pockets with Betty" promised, but, still, I thought, it looked like I'd l be sitting down and clapping politely during an Uz jsme doma concert. Blasphemy! UJD frontman Miroslav Wanek noted the odd circumstances for the show. He called it "a surprise, a nice surprise." And to mark the occasion, the band, in a huddle just moments before the concert began, decided to dust off "Amen," a 20-year-old song from the Uprostred Slov/In the Middle of Words album, something they never play. And that's when the kids stormed the stage/altar. Actually, it looked more like a conga line to begin with, but quickly (d)evolved into a pretty furious mosh pit. Which was as cool as it was odd — a mosh pit in the chapel. The PA blew out almost immediately, all the sound coming from two stage monitors. Yeah, it was raw. And wild. My wife retreated to the relative safety of the pew. Relative being the key word here. There were bodies flying everywhere. I entered the pit, mostly to shield my wife from upturned Wesleyans, flanked by an energetic WU events staffer. Eventually, after breaking the ice by getting knocked on my ass a few of times, I made a couple of forays into the belly of the beast, always retreating to the neutral corner to catch my breath between songs. Hey, these kids are half my age. OK, almost a third.

Everything was fine until the encore, "Jo nebo nebo/Yeah or or," which, on the “Uprostred slov" album is paired with the Wesleyan opener "Amen," making perfect musical bookends for the event. It is also one of the most slamming songs they do, so we steeled ourselves for one last onslaught. The elbow to the eye brought on the white light and all those pretty, sparkly stars, and sent my glasses flying into the third row. No real damage, just this cool black eye that I keep going on and on about. Great show and, like I said, these Wesleyan kids, just totally cool. They completely get it. (That was a joke for the cool kids. In Czech, the phrase "Uz jsme doma" literally means "we're already home," but, as an idiom, it translates as "I get it.") 

For the record, it was a long set, about 90 minutes, mostly focused on Jesskyne and Rybi Tuk, but with gems like Jazz 1960 and Napul. For the record, here is the set list: Amen, Kapka/Droplet, Mlha/Fog, Mariana/Marianne, Kovbojska/Cowboy,  Nevijak/Reel, Propast/Abyss, Tiha/Weight, Strach/Fear, Jassica, Puklinka/Cranny, Jazz 1960, Telefon/Telephone. Napul/Halfway. Encore: Jo nebo nebo/Yeah or or.

The show was recorded by WESU and will be aired sometime in the future on the DJ Cheshire Cat Scroll to the bottom. show.  The tour schedule is on the Cuneiform web. 

For the record, the picture, which really captures the mood of the concert, comes from Zach from Wesleyan. You can see more of them here.


  1. What a show!! We met at the altar after the show. I'm the Deadhead. Here's a link to some pix I took!/photo_search.php?oid=148517185178419&view=all