Who You Gonna Call?

Photo by Sean Flansbaum

“Who you gonna call?”  That surely is not grammatically correct.  Does “whom are you going to call” sound better?  But lyrics are not intended to survive Strunk & White scrutiny.  After all, lyrics seek to convey feeling, emulate daily speech, reflect trends, or maybe create a new idiom.

On Saturday at Safetyville’s Halloween Haunt, we heard “who you gonna call” several hundred times.  The Lava Pups had the privilege of being the live band for the event.  More than a thousand children and parents came to wander Safetyville’s streets, participate in games, show off their costumes, and be entertained by the Rappin’ Ratz, Trevor the MC and Magician, and the Lava Pups.

In between the scheduled entertainment, Safetyville’s public address system belted out a Halloween CD, which included the “Monster Mash,” the “Addams Family,” “They’re Comin’ To Take Me Away,” and “Ghostbusters.”  After five hours, the “Ghostbusters” refrain -- “Who you gonna call?  Ghostbusters!” -- was firmly implanted in our brains.  It will not be eradicated easily.

Safetyville’s compilation included at least four versions of the “Monster Mash,” one of which reminded me of the Flying Lizards.  The Flying Lizards?  They were a New Wave one hit wonder with their monotone, non-garage version of “Money (That’s What I Want).”  But no Google search attributes any “Monster Mash” variant to them.

The Kool Kat says, “Nothing teaches like playing live.”  This may be some kind of musician’s zen.  Or a euphemism for “don’t get too comfortable, stuff happens.”  At 10:30, the sun already was blazing as we set up on the stage in front of the Capitol -- Safetyville's reduced size replica.  Nothing shaded the stage on this unseasonably hot October day.

When we took the stage at noon, my first thought was whether our amps and effects had melted.  A rag placed on the seat saved Glenn from third degree burns to his buttocks.  A tee shirt draped over my pedal board and wireless receiver meant that they could be touched.  The bright sun made any lights nearly unreadable.  Kneeling over the pedal tuner shaded it enough to read dots but not letters.  Tuning was reduced to hit a string and turn a peg until a red light showed.

By the second song into the set, we realized that I was out of tune.  “Technical difficulties.”  Kneel over the tuner.  Red light.  Start again.  Still out of tune.  Robert shaded my pedal tuner this time.  We barely could make out the letters.  Oh . . . I had tuned my G-string to G sharp.  Yes, indeed, stuff happens.

The sun was unrelenting.  The heat -- and it was only in the mid-80s -- caused our instruments to go out of tune.  Despite avoiding burnt buttocks, Glenn could not grab his cymbals to mute them.  They were too hot to touch!

But we were learning.  As the Kool Kat said, “nothing teaches like playing live.”  The audience really did not care.  And once we overcame the G sharp issue, the audience was oblivious to whatever else was happening to us.  Kids were dancing.  Some were fully costumed.  Others had stripped away parts of their costumes to find relief from the heat.  The kids knew the moves to make during “Miserlou.”  They were too young to be inhibited.  They felt the groove and danced.

Everybody was having fun.  In true Pup style, we were not about to be outdone by any recorded version of “Ghostbusters.”  We were ready for the Halloween Haunt.  I announced, “Here’s one that you can help us with!”  Sue started up.  Robert and Glenn came in.  Then my guitar.  We were breaking out of our comfort zone.  The audience participation was not rousing.  But by the end of the song, I could shout-say, “Who you gonna call?”  A few folks joined Robert and Sue in responding.  “Ghostbusters!”  Who you gonna call? . . .


1 comment

  • Sean

    Sean West Sac

    You guys were terrific and I can't wait to see more shows in the future!

    You guys were terrific and I can't wait to see more shows in the future!

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