The Radiators played this week’s Harvest the Music at Lafayette Square benefitting Second Harvest Food Bank.
I started my day with a short walk to La Divina’s for a wonderful gelato. It was hard to narrow down from the great choices but I decided to let the Autumn spirit overtake me and selected sweet potato pie to pair with my standard chocolate Azteca.
The air was perfect for my first long walk since I injured my knee last month. We’ve had about 3 weeks of perfect weather now, sunny and warm with a breeze. But this day was even better because the short dry spell we’ve had ended with a light rain that morning and we finally had a little bit of humidity, just enough to keep skin soft but not enough to frizz curly hair.
The concert was already underway when I arrived at Lafayette Square. Formed in 1978, The Radiators have had the same 5 members since and still play songs they wrote when they met. Jonathan, a local in his late 20’s, said he’d gone to his first Radiators concert when he was 10. It was at the zoo on Earth Day and it was also his first rock concert so it all left a deep impression. The Radiators have been playing Tipitina’s for as many years as Jonathan’s been alive. Even I’ve seen The Radiators once before, at least 10 years ago, at Tipitina’s. They’ve even recorded 2 albums there, Work Done on Premises in 1980 and Earth vs. The Radiators in 2004. I love the sense of continuity here. Newer is not inherently better here. Neither is younger.
So, yeah, the crowd was older and a bit less diverse, reflecting the members of the band, but young and old were wearing the most tie-dye I’d seen since Jazz Fest. Like the Grateful Dead with their deadheads or Jimmy Buffett with his parrotheads, the fans of The Radiators are known as fish-heads. Many have shirts emblazoned with band logos and sayings and most know the words to the songs. That said, with over 300 original songs and at least 3 times as many covers, The Radiators never play the same show twice.
Like a 5 person married clan, the men know each other’s moves by heart. Though they run like a well oiled machine, they come alive with the pleasure of playing for a crowd. Dave Malone, on guitar and raspy vocals, was pure rock and roll, his wavy hair sometimes blown back by a well-placed fan. On keyboards, Ed Volker provided the bands other voice and writes many of the songs. Though the band shares the spotlight fairly equally, Volker seems to serve as an anchor of some sort.
During the break, I made my way through the sea of foldout chairs to watch the Hornet’s Honeybees toss t-shirts into the crowd. I ran into DancingMan504, my neighbors and a bunch of friends.
Though I’d seen the band once before, I didn’t know ANY of the songs they played. Even so, a hit’s a hit and some songs stood out. My favorite was actually the evening’s pre-encore capper, Like Dreamers Do. There was a spacey and Caribbean keyboard solo as well as all three guitarists wailing together. The young and old long-haired men in the crowd bopped their heads surrounded by hip-swaying women and girls. There were pawpaws with toddlers on their shoulders and kids in school uniforms, all letting the music come through them. I wish there were more than 2 concerts left in the series.
I didn’t eat much but I still managed to feed some families through Second Harvest before I left just by enjoying the Abita beer.
See The Radiators at Rock n Bowl this weekend.
Or at their Tipitina’s gig on November 26.
And come to the Square at 5pm next Wednesday for Good Enough for Good Times and Ivan Neville’s Dumpstaphunk!