[Above: Pete Townshend and Mark Oliver Everett]
Hosted by In the Attic's Rachel Fuller, intimate "Attic jams" held in select cities along last year's Who tour featured veteran artists such as the Flaming Lips alongside emerging talent like the Colorado rockers of Rose Hill Drive. Lucky fans enjoyed the opportunity to rub elbows with their heroes. This night's show, at the cozy Hotel Café in Hollywood, featured Attic regulars Fuller, co-host Mikey Cuthbert, and brothers Simon and Pete Townshend, along with special guests Minnie Driver, Mark Oliver Everett (AKA: E) of Eels, and Billy Corgan of Smashing Pumpkins.
The bawdy Fuller revealed her sensitive side with material from her Shine EP, while Cuthbert drew comparisons to former Faces bassist Ronnie Lane with "Plasticine" from his Invisible EP. Simon Townshend claimed his due share of rocker cred with powerful tunes like "On the Scaffolding," dating back to 1984's Sweet Sound. Driver performed winsome chapters seemingly pulled from her diary, including "Fast As You Can," mischievously described as a story about an ex-boyfriend's dead mother.
Pete Townshend's set received a predictably-rapturous response, beginning with "Greyhound Girl," an acoustic cut from his aborted Lifehouse project. Although he eventually revealed deep affection for his absent partner, Roger Daltrey, Townshend ribbed the Who singer's "bravura" theatricality during performances of Endless Wire songs such as "Tea & Theatre" and "A Man in a Purple Dress." Townshend then took his own flamboyant turn with "In the Ether," singing in gravel-voiced homage to Earl Hines' classic rendition of "St. James Infirmary."
The evening's surprise was E's set. Having recently completed an entire year of full-band dates during which he didn't speak from the stage, the Eels leader was engaging, revealing and howlingly funny. "I'd like to play a very embarrassing song about an irrational crush I had on a girl who worked at the post office when I was a teenager," he said, introducing "Jeannie's Diary" from the piano. As Pete Townshend joined him for a few songs, including the stark "It's a Motherfucker," E wisecracked about giving his "opening act" a break. The pair then performed Townshend's "Let My Love Open the Door" and The Who's "The Kids Are Alright."
Corgan's set closed the evening with material still in development for the forthcoming Smashing Pumpkins record. The former grunge star began by saying, "Thanks to Mark and Pete for raising our spirits to heaven. Now, I'll send your hearts crashing to the ground. And I can do it, too." Corgan closed with Thunderclap Newman's "Something in the Air," and indeed, there was something special floating around in the Attic as the evening came to a close.