By John Hanley
Lagniappe Records is moving out. Tucked away on a tight corner in a semi-residential, downtown neighborhood, the vintage-style record shop has been pushing vinyl and hosting shows for years. Recently having started up an indie record label as well, the proprietary couple is uprooting their pride and joy to shift one step over to Lafayette. The big move warranted a big “final” show, so this past Sunday, three musicians came together to make it happen.
Opening the show was one of Lagniappe’s owners, Tess Brunet. Normally backed by a fellow band, Brunet went solo this time, with only herself and a guitar. Backed by grungy indie-rock guitar chords, she sang through subjects like a hopeless artist who flings herself from atop the famous Hollywood sign. But despite any despair in her set, there is little despair involved in the hopefulness of moving to a new location, and Brunet was more or less cheery throughout the show (save for a heartfelt and teary-eyed “farewell and thank you” at the end).
Sandwiched between Brunet and the final act, Wreckless Eric, was Toby Hartleroad of Columbus, Mississippi band, Hartle Road. Going along with Brunet’s theme, Hartleroad played a solo set, although his other band members were there as support. He noted beforehand that his set would work in one sequence, without pauses between songs. Only two or three simple, soft, drum machine beats kept the whole thing grounded in reality as Hartleroad played sweeping blends of droning electronic sounds. Flicking switches and turning knobs, he distorted and shifted the massively reverbed and sustained booms of noise, his voice only just audible over the music. It was like a New Age, electro-heavy version of Tibetan chanting, only much louder. His set ended as quickly as it started, and everyone came down from their music-induced body highs to settle in for the final act.
That final act was Eric “Wreckless Eric” Goulden, a soft-spoken, grey-haired British man with a sharp wit and a vulgar mouth. Best known for his hit, “Whole Wide World,” which was featured in the Will Ferrell movie, Stranger Than Fiction, Goulden has been touring and releasing music since the ‘70s. On his way down from his home in New York State to a few shows in Texas and through the South, he agreed to stop by Lagniappe for their final show.
“[Langiappe] is a great place,” he said after the show. “I don’t mind what the place is like. I don’t mind whether there’s a stage and a beautiful PA system and the best lighting and all that. I only care about if people are facing in the same direction, that it will work, and [that] they’re doing it for good reasons. But they are, and I like that.”
“I’m a huge fan [of Goulden],” added Brunet. “I think the first time I heard of Wreckless Eric might have been in elementary school…It was sort of a no-brainer [to have him for the show]. It all fell into place very easily.”
Goulden accompanied his set of oldies punk rock with biting anecdotes and cynical humor, detailing misadventures with bad audiences and “off-slinkers” – people that leave the show in the middle of the set – but said that the Lagniappe audience was a good crowd and that he was ultimately “thrilled” to have come for the record shop’s final Baton Rouge show.