House Of Large Sizes
The Picador-Iowa City, Iowa
December 28, 2007
At the risk of sounding mean, I’m forced to preface any discussion of a House Of Large Sizes reunion show with the origin of their name and the long-time fans that came to see them at the first of four shows on Friday night. House Of Large Sizes was a women’s clothing show geared towards females that required plus-size fashions. It wasn’t a very tactful name and the band House Of Large Sizes lasted much longer than the retail store.
Twenty-one years after the band chose that ridiculous store name as their own moniker; those aforementioned long-time fans could probably fill out the fashions in House Of Large Sizes, Casual Male, and any other big & tall store quite nicely.
I have every right to point this out because my own waist size has increased since those initial encounters. I used to walk to school, but now I sit in a cubicle.
At the same time, the members of House Of Large Sizes don’t seem to have aged a bit. Dave Deibler is every bit of that loveable Charlie Brown as he was back in the day and Barb Schlif has aged wonderfully, transforming herself from an obligatory Doc Marten feminist into a fetching middle-age Mother that holds her own among the rock ‘n roll fellas.
More importantly, House hasn’t aged musically either, or specifically, they don’t sound like they’ve missed a rehearsal in their four-year absence. Now consider the reality that, thanks to some shitty Iowa weather that made travel conditions difficult, they only managed to practice as a trio about half-a-dozen times since announcing these reunion shows as drummer Brent Hanson now considers Minneapolis his home base.
This may have been unnoticed to the nearly sold-out crowd who were treated to another by the numbers, ass-kicking House show, just as if the entire notion of the band’s retirement never even happened. So when you do notice little factoids like this, it points to how amazing this little power-trio is and how sorely they are missed.
Hanson kept the event caterwauling at an incredible velocity, spinning the band through a thorough representation of their entire catalog. But it was Deibler, noticeably excited and looking even a bit nervous before taking the stage, which proved beyond all expectations that this band could still manage to level any band twenty years their junior should they ever decide to return permanently. He stalked the stage with equal parts nervous energy and malicious intention. And, by my own accounts, he emerged victorious.
For sure, there were those in attendance that attempted to relive their youth by pushing their way to the front and stirring the pit into a physical and sweaty endeavor. Even I was overcome with that initial excitement and began the set towards the front of the stage. I lasted four songs until I was reminded that I wasn’t twenty-one anymore and that I was tired of being jostled around by the dreadnecked dude who hadn’t yet discovered the importance of underarm deodorant. As excited as the crowd was to see their instate heroes, they were also much older too. After retreating to the safer confines of the back of the house, I notice several of my original comrades emerging from the still-whirling pit with drunken exhaustion. Through it all, House continued to hammer away at the favorites with little consideration for those old enough to know better.
Eighty minutes in and the band ended the set looking for the non-existent backstage area. Yes, the last time House played here, the venue was called Gabe’s Oasis and there was indeed a backstage dressing room to retreat to. The remodeling job removed it, and the band found themselves cornered on stage by a crowd who wasn’t ready to turn out the lights. With little recourse, the band had no decision but to strap on the instruments they had just taken off and go right into their encore set. And after those songs had been exhausted, the crowd still wasn’t ready to part to allow the band offstage. Deibler instructed the crowd to “go home…We didn’t practice any more songs!” And in case there were any doubts that this would jumpstart additional albums or performances, Dave barked, “We’ll see you in four years,” hinting that this may be an infrequent, yet welcomed ritual.
Again, the amazing thing was how unremarkable the show was, and that is totally meant as a compliment. The first reunion performance couldn’t be considered as the band’s best performance, but it was far from their worst. And given their prep time, their distance between, and (yes) their age, the kickoff show at The Picador was the best performance one could ever expect.