SPACED COWBOY: Sly Stone stunned a 2006 Grammy audience simply by showing up.
What will Sly Stone do?
By Gabe Meline
No matter what happens at Sly Stone's concert at the Wells Fargo Center this Friday night, I can guarantee you one thing, backed by the full faith and credit of the longtime concertgoer: You're gonna see something.
Sly Stone, the man with the most glaring ratio of pure talent to sheer undependability, the man responsible for an incredible library of outstanding albums who fell off a drug-addled career into veritable thin air all those years ago—that man has not performed a full concert on his Bay Area home turf for over 30 years. He crawls out from under his self-imposed rock to stage a grand return in Santa Rosa on Oct. 17.
Despite Stone's unreliable reputation, tickets for the show have sold well, mostly to people who already know exactly what I'm about to tell you once again: You're gonna see something. Go, go, go. He's so completely bonkers-ass weird and unpredictable that there's an infinite number of possible scenarios for this show. Here are just 10:
1. Sly Stone could come out 45 minutes late, vamp a 15-minute coda for "Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)," climb off the stage to do some pushups in the aisles and then walk out of the theater to go swear at cars on the freeway.
2. Sly Stone could sit backstage, refusing to go on until he's been paid twice his guarantee, then eat a $100 bill, preen his Mohawk, strip down to a G-string and recite the evening news while his band plays instrumental versions of "Family Affair" and "Fresh."
3. Sly Stone could show up wearing an aluminum foil mask and cape and set up a giant trampoline in the lobby, forcing his band to play "Sing a Simple Song" while posing for his personal videographer, who'll hang from the chandelier and refer to Stone exclusively as "Zeke Superfly Wahlberg Miyagi."
4. Sly Stone could order everybody out of the theater five minutes before curtain, demand that the stage be filled with plates of London broil and vats of low-fat yogurt, climb onto a 10-foot throne, order everybody back inside and fling the food at their heads while singing "Everyday People."
5. Sly Stone could drive around Santa Rosa beforehand, pick up a street hooker, pay a minister in the theater $10,000 to marry them onstage, claim that they'll name their first daughter "Larkfield," rip shreds from his newlywed's dress and feed them to his pit bull, sing a few lines of "Everybody Is a Star" and drive up to Covelo to start a new life.
6. Sly Stone could clear out an entire aisle of seats, set up a steel-cage "globe of death" with Argentinean motorcyclists revving around it in drag, initiate a mass release of disabled pigeons from the ceiling, smoke a gigantic cigar upside down on a tricycle and mutter, "I Want to Take You Higher" while showing a documentary on the mating habits of Iranian frogs.
7. Sly Stone could stay backstage the entire night, addressing the crowd over the PA system about the real perpetrators behind 9-11, the hidden subliminal messages in Kung Fu Panda, the aliens from planet Zyroax that landed at his house last week, the Moonie colonization of inner Earth, the secret mind-controlling ingredients in Weetabix, the reasons Mel Gibson will be our next president and the duty we have as Americans to go to work naked covered in glossy nail polish every other Tuesday.
8. Sly Stone could bake himself into a cinnamon dough and roll out onto the stage with a saxophone sticking out of his nose that plays the first three notes of "Hot Fun in the Summertime" every time he sneezes because he'll have an entire meadow of ragweed and anise planted around the stage with hired munchkins doing cartwheels in time to drunken macaws who knock their heads against each other while large machines shoot shredded ravioli up to the far reaches of the balcony.
9. Sly Stone could sit in a large, red upholstered couch, shove heaping spoonfuls of peanut butter in his mouth and recite garbled lines of "Dance to the Music," while two teenage girls dressed up like tigers at his side drink that new God-awful Budweiser & Clamato crap out of a KFC bucket as Mylar ribbons poisoned with PCP fall from the ceiling onto the crowd, sending them away tripping so hard that they, too, actually buy some Budweiser & Clamato from the Quik Stop on the way home and drink it in one strong chug, believing it to be the sacred blood of Sly Stone, revelator and son of God.
10. Sly Stone could come out onstage, play a decent 90-minute set, say "Thank you," and leave the stage.
Nah. Won't happen.
Sly Stone performs Friday, Oct. 17, at the Wells Fargo Center, 50 Mark West Springs Road, Santa Rosa. 8pm. $18–$83. 707.546.3600.
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