Forget what I just said, I guess. There have been far too many Tom Waits related hits of late to not keep on truckin'.
So, Andrew was my travel companion this time around (no rental car was needed), and we made it to the road by about 2:30. After a short detour to the Czech Stop in West for real kolaches, we rolled into Dallas with about an hour and a half to spare. We found street parking near the Palladium--our spot happening to be right in front of a bar where we drank until about 15 till show time. When that time came, we mobilized, made it to the door, grabbed two beers a piece at one of the side bars, cut in front of a good chunk of the crowd masquerading as friend-searchers, handed a beer to each of the guys we'd be standing in front of, and prepared ourselves.
The wait for Waits was about 30 seconds, and we immediately found ourselves in the middle of the "Lucinda"/"Way Down in the Hole" two-song kick start I'd grown accustomed to over the past few days. After taking "Anywhere I Lay My Head" out for a walk and following it up with a little "November" and megaphone enhanced "Chocolate Jesus" action, he busted out the first shocker: "Frank's Wild Years", which at one point was my ring-tone until I realized that I was missing just about every received call. It was so fucking unexpected I nearly shat myself from glee. Obviously, it was great.
Maintaining the oldie-but-goodie momentum, the crowd was taken to a small island of the Malay Peninsula that some like to call "Singapore", and while no one was actually caned, Tom Waits did kick all of our asses just a little bit. After the tour standards "Hoist that Rag" (which was performed the best in Dallas of the three Texas shows) and Mississippi Delta hole-in-the-wall vibed "Get Behind the Mule", he played the pair of Eyeball Kid related songs, "Such a Scream" and "Eyeball Kid", which was probably the high point of the entire Texas leg of the tour for my money.
Following that, he made his way to the piano for piano set standard "Lucky Day" with special treat "Invitation to the Blues" coming right on its heels. Then he swung around to the reed organ for "Lost in the Harbor" after which I assumed he'd make his way back to center stage--as he had in El Paso--only to be surprised with "Innocent When You Dream". I suppose here would be the time to point out that of the crowds I saw Tom Waits with (my personal company excluded), the Dallas crowd was the best. Maybe it was the communal heat stroke that was going on in the Palladium, as it was hot as fuck in there, but the crowd was much more into participating in the show, not just sitting there. I guess that's probably caused by the assigned seating versus general admission nature of the shows, but unlike in Houston, Tom Waits didn't have to ask the crowd to sing louder on "Innocent When You Dream" in Dallas.
Hopping back onto his circle of sawdust, he broke into "16 Shells from a Thirty-Ought Six", which I kind of hope he didn't play in Houston just to spite the retard who kept yelling, "16 Shells!" after every song had already started. It was pretty fucking primal, honestly. He then built on that energy with "Lie to Me", which has quickly made its way to the top of my favorite Waits songs after seeing it on this tour. Then, again hopefully to spurn Houston, he dropped in "Fannin Street". He kicked it back up a notch with an new version of "Black Market Baby", which plays just as well as it does on the album, if not better, and then closed the regular set with "Misery is the River of the World".
As he came out (quickly again) for the encore, I was sure that he'd crank out "Goin' Out West". No dice. First, he made it rain, which was tight once again, then he treated us to the blues jam "Jesus Gonna Be Here" (which the more I think about sounds kind of like what Sam Beam has done with a lot of the reworked Iron & Wine material when they're playing live). Expecting him to be done after that, he shocked me by going into "9th and Hennepin", which was fucking stellar and was exactly what I wanted to hear (as I kind of doubted he'd be busting out "Christmas Card from a Hooker in Minneapolis" again on the tour, and I like to get my Minneapolis fix anyway I can), and then he sent us home with the classic "Time".
Honestly, without any hesitation whatsoever, this was the best of the three shows I saw. I thought the set list was the best. The crowd was the best. The sound was the best. The band was the best. It was a great fucking show, and it made me wish I was going along on the rest of the tour.
As Andrew and I made our way back to Austin, we stopped at Jack in the Box in Hillsboro and then again in Waco. Bad move. Andrew didn't shit for a day. I, on the other hand, did. More than I'd have liked. That's saying something. I also decided that I was just going to need to make myself throw up at about 7:30 am if I was going to get any kind of decent sleep.
Maybe it's time for me to swear off fast food altogether. I've done it before. I can do it again.