Tim’s band had its first gig last night. Mainly this meant that all yesterday I got to say in my best Aretha Franklin voice, “You ain’t GOIN’ back on the road no more. And you ain’t playing in none of them two-bit sleazy dives…”
A couple months ago, Tim was invited to jam with some guys from various labs at TU Delft, and the jams basically turned into a band, and the band was asked to play for a borrel.
The borrel is a Dutch tradition we learned of shortly after our arrival. When you leave your lab position or complete your program, you throw a party, at your own expense, for your colleagues. Your colleagues will give gifts, perhaps tell embarrassing stories about you, and in some cases sing inappropriate song parodies about your life. Giving a borrel can be a costly affair. The first borrel we attended back in the summer was held at ‘t Klooster, a great pub in the city center. The open bar of Trappist beer, we heard, cost the borrel-ees upwards of 500 Euros. Tim was literally told to start saving for his borrel the week we arrived. (No plan has yet been enacted.)
Last night’s borrel was held in the spacious common room of an apartment building. A Dutch friend remarked that this was a very classy borrel, because at the normal ones in pubs, it is usually too crowded to see or hear any of what’s going on near the guest of honor. Last night’s borrel was also somewhat standout for featuring a live band: the debut performance of The Gary Skinner Social Club (so named for the drummer, who is also the same person leaving the lab, unfortunately. Artistic crisis has already been averted by recruiting a new drummer).
You can say that I’m biased, but the band was really good. They have no charts and learn all their songs by listening to the videos on YouTube. The frontman, an amazing singer and PhD student from outside Shanghai, surprised everyone who hasn’t shared an office with him. The set (no original works yet) opened with Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition” and closed eventually with “Home” by Marc Broussard.
I left the borrel around midnight, but certain members of the band were out past two a.m., leading some to believe that the Blues Brothers’ Aretha speech carries about as much weight in this household as it does in the movie.