The Elected: Bow Before Blake Sennett, Diffuser Of Smart Asses
By the time the opening title track from “Sun, Sun, Sun,” was over, we had forgotten it was storming outside. We had forgotten that we were in a small club in the heartland. The Elected had not come to Des Moines, but rather, taken the crowd to So Cal. It was the kind of cozy comfort that makes you forget that you would actually have to return to your normal, busy life. Guitarist Mike Bloom came out with a toothpick dangling from his mouth and placed a martini next to his slide guitar on one of the many southwestern tablecloths littered around the tight stage. We were in their hometown now, perhaps a quaint cabin somewhere outside the grid and electric lights of the coastal cities. Lead singer Blake Sennett asked for the lights to be turned down to a level that made it as if the band was now being illuminated by a couple rusty lanterns or a flickering fire’s flame instead of a couple flashy, pastel-colored bulbs. Simplicity and comfort fueled the set. The full band wasn’t always present, but Sennett and Bloom were constants. They ran through both their new album and debut “Me First.” The men stood and swayed, the women swooned and imagined the songs were written about them. A slow and soft version of “Did Me Good” preceded other emotively drenched acoustically pining songs, “Would you Come With Me” and “Not Going Home.” The flow was smooth, the playing crisp, and all was going to plan until Sennett decided to take requests from the audience. Not that it was a bad idea, and we all had our favorites, but one inebriated “fan” decided to disrupt the entire show. While requests were being shouted out, she got the bright idea of shouting, “Play the camp Anawanna song.” She threw down a gauntlet that was both unnecessary and completely bullshit at the same time. Sennett stared out over the astonished and anticipating audience. He then picked up the gauntlet and smashed in her face with it. “I?ll tell you what,” Sennett reasoned, then he preceded to tell the girl that he would play the song if she agreed to come up to the stage and show everyone in the audience her most intimate part. She went silent and the crowd burst into laughter and applause. After that, she exclaimed how it was her birthday, and Sennett echoed what everyone in the crowd was itching to say: “Who the fuck cares?” Finally a fan desired “Don’t Blow It” and that ignominy was over. Sennett now towered over the drunken girl’s bruised ego. This isn’t Macauley Culkin. It isn’t Corey Feldman. It isn’t the kid from “Boy Meets World” or “Salute your Shorts.” No, this is Blake Sennett, musician and master of hegemonies, master of your misspoken ass. About a half dozen audience favorites like “British Columbia” and “Response to Greed” graced us until the full band came out for the inevitable crowd favorite and closer, “The Biggest Star.” Bloom had, by this time, lost the toothpick, and the martini wasn’t as full. The night lit up with dueling electric guitars fiercely battling, and as the song built up, then fell, the band said their goodbyes. We faced reality. There was no firewood left and we blew out our lantern. We weren’t in the comfortable cabin. We were back in the Midwest with rain splashing in the street-side puddles.
April 11 | Vaudeville Mews