BY BRENDAN KELLY
When Scully was playing the Playwright (RIP) on Sunday nights, the song that I always kept coming back to was “Cheap Guitars.” It was (and is) a good song, to be sure, but it wasn’t so much better than his other songs to explain why that was the song that stuck with me. I think it was the hope in it. The impossible aspiration. The ridiculous audacity.
It’s not hard, twelve years later and with MGM, two shows at the Pavilion, and countless stages around the country in the rearview to expect Scully to play HOB. But it’s hard to describe how impossible it seemed at the time I was watching him at Playwright (and that was after he and Kate wrote the song!). It was an impossible dream. And the first time he played HOB, it was, like, let’s savor every moment of this because it might never happen again. Scull even had me take a picture of him walking into the side door of HOB (I think it’s still his Venmo picture) almost to document that it was actually happening.
He/they have played there a bunch of times now. Dalton now has a residency there, which is wild. But I don’t think I’ve ever lost the sense that playing there is surreal. It was an impossible dream that came true and still feels, somehow, impossible.
The danger of a residency is that it can start to feel routine for everybody: the band and the audience alike. I don’t think that’s going to be the case with this one. It still feels like it could all be over tomorrow. There’s an urgency to that that’s scary, but also what makes it special. I’ve seen hundreds of shows now, and it’s fair to ask why keep coming? Why go to yet another show at HOB? It’s because of the chance of a moment of magic. There’s something about live music, in general, and Dalton shows, in particular, where that possibility exists. And when you experience that moment, when you look around and think to yourself “something special is happening and I’m a part of it,” that makes you never want to miss a show, no matter how many times it’s the same band at the same venue. I don’t know there are many chances in life to get to be a part of something special. Every show at HOB feels like one of those chances, and that’s why I won’t stop showing up: it’s a chance to be a part of something both magical and impossible.