Based on past experience, there was a strong chance we’d lose a day in the fog of jet lag. I had a plan to defeat it.
Late one night, my friend Robert Kelsey sent me links to some great bands that I hadn’t heard of. Several took me to Postmodern Jukebox videos on YouTube. They post a new video every Thursday and most of them have over a million views with a few over 10 million.
They take current popular songs and twist them into, mostly, a 1930’s torch singer and band thing. There are a lot of changes to the lineup because it seems like the main guy uses whoever is in New York that week to play and sing with him.
I ended up on the band’s website and they had a banner telling people to see them on their Europe tour. So I checked it out. Of course, they were booked at Palac Lucerna on the night we were scheduled to fly into Prague. So I bought tickets. Geni thought I was crazy because we’d be so tired from 24 hours of travel, but I convinced her that going out late and staying out late would get us caught up to local time faster. It worked.
Entertaining Mistake #1
We walked across one of the many bridges in plenty of time to get a good spot to watch the show. We saw the neon lights of Lucerna and joined the long line. It moved fast, a kid looked at our tickets that I’d printed at home from a PDF file, and he waved us in. We skipped the long line for coat check and went into the club.
It was not what I expected. It was really small and wasn’t at all like the layout map I’d seen when I bought tickets. I bought a beer and a wine ($4 total!) and Geni held down a spot while I walked around checking to see if it was the type of place with multiple rooms and we’d ended up in the wrong one.
The first few staffers I talked to didn’t speak English. One of the bartenders did and she assured me I was in the right place. Huh. Didn’t seem right.
By then Geni had already made new friends. After a few minutes of chatting they expressed surprise (and admiration) that we were coming out on our first night in Prague to see a modern Czech band that mixed theater into their modern rock/jazz music. Uh-oh. But we came to see Postmodern Jukebox.
“Oh, you are in Lucerna Music Bar. On the other side of the block is Palac Lucerna!”
They seemed disappointed that we were leaving, but off we went and found the big room that I’d been expecting: big floor area with two levels of balconies wrapped on three sides. The place was packed. The band was already 45 minutes into their show and we ended up having to peer between heads and over shoulders to see anything. Especially hard for Geni at 5’2″. After a bit, though, Geni made new friends (how does she do that?) and found a spot on some steps where we could see the entire band.
They were awesome. Hot. 5 singers that took turns singing lead and backup, 2 horns, drummer, stand-up bass, piano, and tap dancer. Yep, tap dancer. She was amazing and she was included in quite a few songs. She provided one of the best moments of the show.
Drum and Tap Battle
The tapper danced on a raised rectangle of wooden floor that was mic’ed and had one side that sounded like she was tapping on a bass drum. She and the drummer had a battle during a long section that gave the singers and the rest of the band a break.
During the battle, the drummer used special sticks on the tapper’s floor. They traded back and forth and she was clearly kicking his ass. So he went and got a snare and a tambourine and mixed them into his bit. She still kicked his ass. She even took one of his sticks and leaned over and drummed on the floor while still tapping.
Proud to Be (an American) From the Land of When the Saints Come Marching In
The singers were incredible. They took turns singing solo songs, and the rest of the time they sang as duos, triples, and all together. The band was great and the audience was loving it. Unlike me and Geni, they knew most of the songs (Gaga, Gwen Stefani, Selena Gomez, Drake, Justin Timberlake) and were loving the 1930’s twist on it. (Many in the audience were dressed for the style.)
The moment that sent shivers down my spine was during the section toward the end where they told us the names of the band members and each one did a long solo. The trombone player came center stage and the band shifted straight into a semi-traditional arrangement of When The Saints Come Marching In. They absolutely rocked it, but what gave me the shivers was that everybody in the audience went wild and began singing. I was in Prague, not New Orleans. These were Czechs, Austrians, Italians, Swiss, and Germans, not Americans.
That room suddenly came together as one big united family. I couldn’t have found a more perfect moment to see an example of the kind of beauty America has brought to the world.
(I have to confess that the moment was colored by the fact that I was on my 5th beer and Geni was drinking her 5th wine. $20 total!)
After the final encore, a few members of the band circulated for photos with the fans and I got a pic of Geni with the bass player. He was surprised to hear we’d come all the way from Oregon to see their Prague show.
We hung out in the hall for a while to let the crowd dwindle down. (Quick side note: people lined up to get into the show, then they went directly to the line for coat check. This happened at both places we went. We were the only ones, and I looked, that kept our coats with us.) Then we walked in Wenceslas Square for a while and took an Uber ride home.
We stayed up till 1am listening to War (What Is It Good For) five or six times. It was a version of the song that Geni and Mary Seereiter and Stacy Rathbun and Felicia Sanders and Cara Haakanson had co-choreographed a long dance piece to for the first Dance for a Reason at the Hult Center.
Now, sitting here at the kitchen table at 8am, I can say that going out to dance and listen to great music, and staying up that late worked on beating jet lag. I highly recommend it.