But amid an otherwise empty Design District, there was the valet canopy, the red carpet with the Moët/Cadillac/Belvedere backdrop and the cozy performance space with Clint Black crooning to a few hundred well-dressed fans.
As they dutifully worked their way through 10-drink punch cards at the Belvedere-stocked bars, stopping to load up on hors d'oeuvres catered by Pooya Habibi, the singalongs grew a little more raucous, Clint moseyed a little closer to the crowd, and one or two even got out of their seats to dance.
At $600 a ticket (just $400 in advance!), the scene far outclassed the sort of place I'd normally spend a Saturday night, but as a break from the better-advertised Situation circuit, and a prelude to the slow turning clockwork of hell-circles awaiting me under the Bud Light Hotel tent later, this one was hard to beat.
Especially thanks to artist J.D. Miller, who runs the gallery and kicked off the night with a live demo of his 3-D oil painting work before Black's hour-long set. Like the other locals at the gallery last night I could think of no better escape from last night's downtown crush.
His own background in radio helped Miller score Black to headline the night, and the singer -- who'll be played by Scott Bakula when his turn at the Crazy Heart treatment comes -- played up his cowboy crooner roots all night, entertaining the room with light crowd-pleasers from Roy Rogers and Monty Python, and gamely leading the crowd through old classics like "Put Yourself in My Shoes" and "Killin' Time." Between songs, he filled the gaps with PG-13 tales of the hard-partying rodeos in his past, wild times before he played to crowds this polite.
"I see many of you are capturing tonight's performance on your high-quality iPhone recording devices," joked at one point. "Glad to know those are gonna be out there."
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