Unknown Dallas Paper (US), July 1995
Keanu and Zima
Keanu Reeves speeds into town. All together now, say "Eeeeeeeey!"
Even though people were rubbing against each other to reach the bar outside, in the men's bathroom at Deep Ellum Live there was no wait. A guy could step right up and have his choice of any urinal in the joint. The bathroom attendant, looking bored, needed someone to talk to.
"How's it goin'?" he asked a rare visitor.
"I'll tell you what," the other said, regarding himself in the mirror. "My girlfriend's hot for Keanu Reeves, and that's why I got dragged down here. But what are you gonna do, man?"
Keanu Reeves, in case you hadn't heard, can not only remember a lot of stuff (Johnny Mnemonic), drive a bus (Speed), and talk to a skull (Hamlet), but he can also play bass. Like Johnny Depp, who's in a band called P, and the late speedballer River Phoenix, who was in Aleka's Attic, Keanu is both a movie star and a rock star.
That was why, on a recent July night, I found myself in the Deep Ellum Live bathroom, sharing the pain of a man whose girlfriend was hot for someone else. I was there to witness the rarest and most desirable of all celebrities, the acting musician.
The name of Keanu's band is Dogstar, but it makes more sense to call it Keanu's Band, and pretty much everyone does. Even Pervis, the metal band that tried to warm up the near-capacity crowd, called it that. Bless their hearts, the two frontgals for Pervis screamed their eyeballs out in an effort to get people into the spirit. They resorted to flashing their panties and pretending to use the microphone as a dildo, which somehow looked much less sexy than it should have and failed to foster a rock-and-roll atmosphere.
"You're not dancing," one of the Pervis women said between songs, sounding very much like an angry aerobics instructor. "We know who you're here to see: Keanu's Band."
And she was right. All the girls with freshly curled hair and exposed navels, wearing the mini-knapsacks and the frayed jean shorts that they put on in the car because their parents wouldn't let them leave the house with their asscheeks showing - all those girls were there to see Keanu. They stood around by the backstage door, hoping to see Keanu. They drank another Zima, waiting to see Keanu.
No one moshed for Pervis because moshing is a guy thing, and two of the three guys present were bonding in the bathroom. The third was taking notes.
Eventually, Pervis either reached the end of its set list or got tuckered out. After the rock-and-roll minions cleared the stage and set up for Keanu's Band, during which the throng of girls again checked their hair and tugged at their shorts, the band was finally introduced.
Never before have so many cheered so much (and so shrilly) for so little. Seeing Keanu Reeves in person proved one thing: Any guy with stubble and a blank stare can become a movie-star heartthrob. If Keanu weren't famous and you put him in a lineup at La Bare (Chippendale'ish place in Texas, according to my source. -Roxy) with the other members of the band - whose names don't really matter, so we'll call them Blondie, Shortie, and The Drummer - Keanu wouldn't collect any more dollar bills than the other fellows. He's cute, but he's no Brad Pitt.
As for his bass-playing style, there is Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and then there is Keanu from Keanu's Band. One plays like he has scorpions in his pants and epinephrine in his veins. The other stands still so he can watch his fingering.
Between songs, though, Keanu became much more animated. He took swigs from a beer bottle and ran his fingers through his sweat-soaked hair. He grinned at the audience, and it went wild with more shrill cheers.
The high point of the evening came when Keanu strode to the microphone and announced, "I'd like to sing a song."
"Eeeeey!" the audience responded.
Then Keanu Reeves sang a song.
Which posed an interesting question: Is Keanu a better singer or actor? Is he an acting musician or a playing actor? Or is he an actor pretending to be a musician who's really an actor?
The answer: He's really cute when his hair gets all messy.
The magical evening came to a close with Keanu's Band playing a cover of Neil Young's Rockin' in the Free World. All the pretty girls seemed to enjoy it. They squealed when it ended, and then about 200 of them ran outside to see Keanu walk from the back door to the tour bus.
Imagine that. A packed house of screaming fans. Two hundred girls hoping to get an autograph and maybe a little more after the show. And a tour bus equipped with a digital-television satellite dish waiting at the back door.
By the looks of things, Keanu's Band sounded great.