I went to the Hamilton’s concert venue for the first time on Thursday to watch a clown sing soulful cover songs, but we’ll get to that. The Hamilton’s bar and restaurant is stuffy and overpriced and their normal musical lineup is not my cup of tea, thus why I’ve never been. It’s a seated venue, a fancier version of the Birchmere basically. The menu makes no sense: small, fancy appetizers, kettle corn, pizza, and sushi. The clientele is middle-aged to old. Yet they have giant pictures of musicians like the Ramones and Kurt Cobain on the walls. No one at the Hamilton looks like they’ve ever listened to either musician. In short, I do not get the Hamilton. At all. But back to the sad clown.
A few months ago, I got an email from my friend Stefanie with a link to this video and the comment “He’s coming to DC, want to go?” OF. COURSE. I mean, just look at the first sentence of the event description from the Hamilton website: “Puddles Pity Party, the traveling roadshow of Puddles the clown and his simian-sapien companion, MonkeyZuma, began more than ten years ago as part of the Atlanta-based 'all clown' band, Greasepaint.” How could anyone read that and not be intrigued? The description went on to call him “the sad clown with the golden voice.” Consider me intrigued.
So I showed up the venue not knowing anything more than that about Puddles. Does a clown musician have an opening band? If so, is it also a clown? What kind of people go to a clown show at a fancy venue? Clearly there were a lot of questions involved as we waited for Puddles to take the stage. Turns out you do not need an opener when you are a clown. And a very bizarre combination of people from young hipsters to elderly people enjoy singing clowns. Some will even dress up like him.
Puddles kicked things off by walking through the audience (a common occurrence), drinking people’s beverages (a common occurrence), and pulling someone onto stage (a common occurrence). Puddles had the guy hold a miniature USA flag while Puddles sang the national anthem. Then he brought someone else onto stage and sang happy birthday. He’d bring several people onto stage to sing happy birthday to, always singing the song to “Kevin” (even when it was a girl) and giving them a balloon that said “Clarence” on it before sending them back into the crowd. This was amusing enough on its own, but my favorite moment of the night was what it built up to: Puddles sang “My Heart Will Go On” to a video montage of Kevin Costner, then at the end of the song it morphed into a Metallica and Puddles sang verses from “Enter Sandman” and “One.” Mark that down as the only time I've ever enjoyed a Celine Dion song.
Words can’t describe how bizarre and entertaining every part of the show was. He’d bring people onto stage to sing karaoke. One poor man who was selected either was super nervous or was the one person on the planet who had never heard “Yesterday” before, because my goodness was he nowhere close to the correct beat or words. Puddles sang Lorde. Puddles sang Abba. Puddles did a killer cover of “Hallelujah.” I’ve never seen anything like it. And people got really, really into it. A drunk girl behind us was so excited, it was as if she was seeing her favorite band. And it was all over by 9:30pm, because old people go to the Hamilton.