Tales of a Viper Virgin:
My Night in LA With KANE

Let Me Hear Some Yee Haws Out There 

Perhaps the best way to start is to say that I am not a fan of country music. When Swoop first asked me to cover Kane at the Viper Room, I was more than a little taken aback. In my mind, the only good things about country that I could think of were "The Devil Went Down to Georgia" by the Charlie Daniels band, a song called "Life Sucks Then You Die" done back in my college days by a Boston band called The Fools, and the Daisy Duke short shorts the girls on "Hee Haw" used to sport. So when I was asked about the possibility of covering a country band, even one in which the lead singer was associated with Angel, I was more than a bit wary. But Swoop's got that whole power of persuasion working for her, and so I was off to Los Angeles for the evening. After a call to the always enchanting Nikka insured that I was not in this alone, I left the safety of the Orange Curtain and headed for my evening of entertainment, by the end of which I had decided, maybe a little bit of country ain't such a bad thi[&R

Welcome To The Hellmouth 

Welcome to the Viper Room

Once again, I'll begin with a clarification. I am not what you would call a regular club attendee. You put me in a sports bar or a dive and I'm pretty much in my element, but nightclubs and the oh so trendy LA scene are not exactly my usual fare. As such, my first thoughts on entering the Viper Room were that it was not unlike approaching the gates of Hell itself. I've been to a number of shows at both The Key Club and The Gig, and as far as the club itself, the Viper Room was no different. It's a small venue, with people packed in like sardines, a bar on one side and cozy, audience friendly stage on the other. But where most of the other shows I've attended have been Buffy/Angel related crowds, this was definitely not. It was a normal Saturday night crowd, a mixture of celebrities (I noticed both club owner Johnny Depp and the actress who played Topanga on Boy Meets World in attendance), Hollywood wannabes dressed to the nines, and club regulars (most of whom were of the "you name it, I'll pierce it" variety). Also, there was a fairly zealous following for the first live band of the evening, St. Dickshift. We came in midway through their set, and smoke was pouring off the stage while the lead singer screamed out a variety of obscene lyrics and rolled about on the stage. Their style was a cross between hard rock, metal, and punk and definitely set the tone for what was to be a very interesting night. Since there's nothing like a little alcohol to take you from somewhat apprehensive and put you in your comfort zone, I sidled up to the bar as soon as possible. A couple of beers later, the second band of the night, Stickball, took the stage. They were a very fun, rocking band, and I enjoyed their set immensely. Like St. Dickshift before them, they had a small but loyal following cheering them on, and they certainly delivered. Even though they weren't the reason I was there, I found myself actually sad when their all too short set was finished. So as not to be without music, a DJ was used to fill time between bands, and I even found myself wanting to dance a bit when they fired off an outstanding medley of old Jackson 5 tunes. Right after this was Guns 'N Roses "Welcome to the Jungle" which I only mention for two reasons: it was unfortunately cut off in the middle to make way for Kane (what can I say, I like that tune), and it will figure into an amusing quote from Christian Kane later. 

(L-R) Steve Carlson, Jerry Angel and Chris Kane

This Ain't Your Mama's Country 

As Kane took the stage, the first thing I noticed was that the club, which was fairly hopping before, had suddenly filled to near maximum capacity. It's a good thing I didn't need any more drinks, because getting to the bar would have been nigh impossible, and even the waitress was having some trouble negotiating the venue. So it's obvious that despite my doubts about a country band playing a place like the Viper Room, there are a number of Kane fans out there. The other immediately noticeable factor is that there are an equal number of men and women (or close to equal), which destroyed my assertion that most of Kane's following would be due to Chris' charismatic drawing power (which isn't to say that the women weren't still overtly impressed, but they definitely knew the music too). I had downloaded a few songs from Kane's website so that I would know what to expect, and to my delight, they opened with my favorite of the bunch "Sweet Carolina Rain". It was a great way to kickstart the set, and the crowd, myself included, responded vigorously.

All night, Chris had a great way with the crowd, and the first of his enjoyable comments came in with the second song. Referring back to "Welcome to the Jungle", Chris thanked us for coming out and said, "It's real tough to follow Axl, but we'll try - Here's some Prince". They then proceeded to cover "I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man", and may I be the first to say, while Prince is not something usually done by a country band, it really worked for them. Throughout the set, Kane continued to thrill the audience, only once losing people as they played one of their slower songs. By the time they closed with "Rattlesnake Smile", they had totally captivated the entire club, prompting not one but two encores amid nothing but frenzied cheers. 

It's Not Easy Being Green 

This ain't your momma's country!

After the show, I convinced Nikka to hang around for a little bit outside the club on the off chance the we might be able to get a few words with Chris Kane for the article. As luck would have it, just as we decided our odds were pretty slim, the band stepped outside for a smoke, and I was able to mingle through the crowd and get a segment I'll call 20 Questions with Christian Kane (give or take 18 questions).

After letting him know that I thought the band had played a great set, I was able to fire a couple quick questions that Chris was good enough to answer. I started with a two-part question: Which do you like better, the singing or the acting? And if you had to give up either, for instance if Kane really took off on a more global scale and you were forced to choose, which would it be? He was very honest in saying, "I love them both, and I don't think I could ever see myself not doing them both. I would find some way to juggle them, because I just like doing both so much." I followed that up with a question about Angel, having heard at the William Paley Festival that an upcoming episode would feature his character Lindsey singing, I asked if that was something he requested or if it was an idea that one of the writers wanted to incorporate. He said that it was David Greenwalt's idea to use his singing talent as part of the show.

At this point, I was preempted by a number of female admirers that were beginning to gather. I in no way want to say that Chris wasn't completely polite and cooperative, because he was great about chatting with me for a few minutes, but once I was faced with that sort of competition, I was fighting a losing battle. But hey, I'm a guy; I understand completely. If the situations were reversed and I was good looking and talented and had my choice of being surrounded by young, attractive women or being asked questions by a robust, just-past-twenty-something guy doing a small piece for an Angel website, I'd have made the same call he did. In a heartbeat. And far less graciously than Chris did it. So I thanked him for his time and headed out for the evening. 

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly 

Since it's the easiest, we'll start with the ugly and then work our way backwards. This was LA, ugly isn't allowed, so there was none of that, with the minor exception of myself attempting to dance a bit. As for the bad, there was very little to criticize on the evening, save for a few small foibles during the set. At the beginning to middle part of the performance, Chris' microphone level was too low, which made it a little hard to hear the lyrics over the music of the band. Both the audience and the band noticed this though, which allowed it to be something that was mostly fixed before the show was too far along. Other slip ups were a couple of missed cues by Chris, once in the beginning of "The Chase" where he missed his start point, and once later in the set when he let out a bit of a laugh before starting a verse (I think a friend of his in the audience caught his attention and threw him off). Both miscues were minor, and totally forgivable within the grand scheme of the performance.

Craig Eastman provides the prerequisite fiddle.

The only other mistake I had issue with was the second encore. They had just performed "Spirit Boy" for the first encore, and had completely brought the house down in a brilliantly orchestrated move of saving their best, most popular song for the finale. In addition, "Spirit Boy" is one of their faster paced and more rocking tunes, perfect as an exit vehicle. But the crowd was so fired up Kane wanted to give them a little more, which can't be considered a bad thing, but they were running low on material and had only "Don't Come Home" remaining (and they had to think a second to come up with that, joking "do we have any songs left?"), and while this isn't a bad song, anything was going to pale in comparison with the unbelievable rendition of "Spirit Boy" moments before. They should have used the old show biz adage, always leave them wanting more. But again, I can't really fault them for being accommodating to their fans. 

We are now left with only the good, of which there was plenty. As you can tell from my commentary, I had a great time at this show. Despite the fact that they are a country group, Kane is a charismatic band that delivers their music with a rock and roll style of showmanship. Chris Kane shows his enthusiasm with his delivery of the lyrics, and he seems at some times charming in a naïve manner and at other times the rogue/maverick. In his introductions to the songs he is also quite witty, as evidenced by his Axl quote, and also by another of his lead-ins, this one for "Crazy In Love", "I'm usually drunk by this point in the show, so I hope I get the words right". The band was visibly grateful for all the crowd support, and Chris thanked everyone for this appreciation numerous times.

I haven't meant to gloss over the rest of the band, but as Chris is the front man and the reason I was at the show, I've used him for most of the focus (and this is an Angel site). For their parts, Steve Carlson and Mike Eaton were excellent on the guitars and Jerry Angel was equally good with the drums. However, the member of the band, Chris notwithstanding, I was most impressed with was Craig Eastman, the fiddle player. A woman I work with who happens to be from Texas, and a big country music fan, said that there's a saying where she's from, "You better not play in Texas if you don't have a fiddle in the band". Well Kane can play in Texas anytime they like. Craig was fantastic throughout the set and really is the difference in Kane being great as opposed to merely good. As an overall review for the performance, I have to borrow from the immortal Homer Simpson and give it nine thumbs up!

Written by, West Coast Correspondent Darren Danforth
Los Angeles CoA Contributing Writer

CityofAngel.com would like to thank Chris Kane for taking the time to give us a few quotes. Special thanks also goes out to Nikka for not letting Seeker get arrested this time! ;)

If you're interested in finding out more about Kane, where they're playing, or hearing some of their music, you can go online to their official website at kanemusic.com. If you really like the clips you hear, they will be releasing a 13 song CD on April 22nd, which will be available through the website or at future appearances of the band.

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