TWILIGHT SERIES: PATTI SMITH JAMS OUT AT PIER
The Twilight Dance Series ended its 25th summer last thursday with a great performance by Patti Smith, a popular punk musician of the '80s. This was Smith's second time appearing at the Santa Monica Pier, attracting a record number of people to the free concert.
The series originated in 1983 when severe weather nearly destroyed the city landmark, and talk of tearing it down floated around the city, according to the Santa Monica Pier website. "Save the Pier Week" was created to bring more attention to the pier during the reconstruction. The event was so successful they repeated it the next summer, transforming it into the Twilight Dance Series in 1984.
Smith clambered up onstage and wasted no time with pleasantries as she jumped into her first song. The diverse and enthusiastic crowd screamed, many of them having been there as early as five o'clock to ensure their spot.
Some brought chairs to set up in front of the stage, as no seating was provided for the event. Speakers were pointed towards the beach on the south side of the pier. Here people sat on blankets and shared food while listening to Smith and her band.
After the first song, Smith addressedthe audience with a tentative "um... Hi." She then introduced her band and guest bass guitarist Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
The spectators were comprised of loyal Patti Smith fans, regulars who attended the event every thursday, and the lucky tourists who just happened to pick the right night.
An endearing, but slightly awkward, Smith stopped to tell the crowd that the moon would be full at midnight, and that she's glad she wouldn't be there to listen to them howl. The crowd broke out in a series of cries, to which Smith said, "That was the sorriest bunch of howls I've ever heard."
Laughing, she grabbed her guitar and recited a beat poem about her visit to Los Angeles.
With the crowd roaring, Smith spoke of her journey from the airport to her hotel, the second-degree burns she received from her spilled coffee, and her fascination with "Law and Order". The poem ended with a heart-lifting verse, "'Cause how do you know you're up if you're never fuckin' down?"
Scattered bubbles from a machine entertaining the children gave the scene a surreal quality, and the moon rose from behind the stage with an orange cast from all the smoke hanging in the air. A member of the crowd screamed out "The moon has risen for you Patti!" and the audience erupted in cheers.
Midway through the set, Smith apologized for not being able to be in Santa Monica for the pier's centennial. "I will sing inside myself...in Italian," she said, and then commenced to sing "Happy Birthday" in English. The bewildered and amused crowd also joined in.
As a tribute to the late songwriter Ellie Greenwich, Smith sang a cover of "Be My Baby." She asked for the crowd to accompany her since she "couldn't do the song justice anyways."
Many tone-deaf voices rang out as members of the audience, young and old, recited the famous lyrics.
Backstage friends of the band and those working the event, cheered Smith on as she sang "Because the Night," her Billboard hit from the late seventies. Anthony Kiedis, lead singer of the Red Hot Chili Peppers was also in attendance.
An L.A. local Nathan Gossimer said, "I come here every Thursday, Patti is an icon and a great way to end the summer!"
Rene Engel, producer of the series, commented that the final concert was bittersweet, and that he couldn't believe the summer was already over.
With an encore, Smith wrapped up the night with an upbeat song but apologetically said she would only be able to sign a few autographs since she had just performed for two and a half hours and was really hungry.