For a short time in a year I can't remember at the end of the 20th century, I became a huge fan of Spacehog. This happened directly because of Arlene Grocery. Don't ask me how because I cannot recall. Word reached me that Spacehog would be playing a special set at Arlene Grocery under the name 'Resident Alien' or 'Alien Pig Farmers' or 'Resident Farmers of Alien Pigs'.
I went. In the little empty space at the center of my brain I went solo but I am pretty sure that I had company. Liam? Quasi Uncle Andy? As I said, there is a blank up in the old sagging gray matter.
The things I do remember? A house packed beyond all reasonable comfort or adherence to fire laws. Impossibly tight jeans and t-shirts on all of the members of the band. Over-sized sunglasses on a few. A crowd of hipsters that I've not witnessed since, unless you count the few snippets of 'Swingers' that I've caught over the years without actually seeing the film.
If you are unfamiliar with Spacehog they are fronted by Royston Langdon, a diminutive Brit with serious guitar chops and an obvious Bowie fascination. Throw the square English boogie of The Kinks into the mix, pepper with glam-rock harmony for a bit of spice, and you've got yourself a late '90's alterna-party in Lower Manhattan.
There were faux-fur coats, real fur coats, tattoos peeking out from just above thongs, high heels at the end of tapered jeans, lipstick shades of exotic to goth extremes, and minuscule leather vests barely pulled over wonder bras overflowing with God's gift to man.
Let's just say that Spacehog had a large and faithful following that reversed the ratio normally seen in rock clubs when all-male rock bands play. At the center of this delicious inversion was a pre-Lord of the Rings Liv Tyler.
Can you imagine that there was actually a time when I could point out Liv Tyler to someone and have to explain to them who she was?
'See that ridiculously gorgeous girl at the lip of the stage staring up at Royston Langdon as if he were on a chariot of gold driven by unicorns? That is Liv Tyler, daughter of Steve Tyler, she's been in a couple of movies...etc. etc.'
Amazing what the passage of time can do.
The great thing about the show was that Spacehog DESERVED the adulation of the most gorgeous woman on the planet except for my girlfriend. They were worthy of starlet worship. They blew the doors off of that stage and club. There were no doors to be found from Ludlow to Delancey.
And the most delicious part? It was a SECRET show. They were playing under an assumed name. They were outlaws on the run from the boring music squad who might burst in at any moment and try to get us all to listen to grunge some more. What would they think when they came in and couldn't find a flannel shirt or ponytail? We'd all get busted and thrown in hipster jail where they would make us listen to Stone Temple Pilots and pump Patchouli in through an air vent.
All I know is that I had trouble deciding what to focus on, the band on stage or Liv Tyler shaking her booty at their feet. There aren't too many bands who could render that choice even mildly difficult to make.
Her fame has grown to epic proportions. She and Langdon have a young child together, preserving the image I have of her worshipping equally at his feet.