After we left the Aaron Lewis show at the Wiltern, my friend Denise Carlin and I happened upon a great little joint called Beertown. With its upbeat Japanese versions of American pop songs, a jumping neon sign declaring something unintelligible, and the Dodgers’ game on a big screen TV, Beertown was the polar opposite of Lewis’s dirge like tunes of self-loathing and roundabout path to self-acceptance. As Denise, a wonderful singer/songwriter in her own right, said, “I could never sing those songs every night.” Beertown was exactly what we needed.

We were treated to boiled peanuts, chips and salsa (which we ate with chopsticks!) and some sort of pancake with onions and zucchini which was “on the house.” While we simply ordered a couple bottles of beer, other patrons were enjoying their libation from some sort of beer tap/bong, three feet high, which the waitress brought to their table, and which dispensed a warm amber liquid. Next time, perhaps.

Naturally, it wouldn’t be fair for me to ramble on about Beertown, located right next to Sojutown on Wilshire and Western; not when a few hundred of the Aaron Lewis faithful showed up at the Wiltern Theatre Tuesday night, buying $40 hoodies and shouting out their love for the man when he ambled onstage in an oversized t-shirt, baseball cap and a grin. While his band Staind is on a mini-hiatus, Lewis has taken it upon himself to sojourn out on another solo tour, just him and his acoustic guitar, emotionally naked on stage, singing the songs he wants to sing. The lights went dark and many women loosed huge shouts of orgasmic joy. Many men too, for that matter. Lewis sounded surprised and humbled when he introduced the first song as “I guess I’ll start with this one.” So there he sat on a barstool, sipping from bottled water, pouring his heart out to us.

I will admit right away to not being a fan of Staind, so there you go. Lewis played his slightly out of tune guitar well and displayed a disarming sense of humor, interacting with the crowd, never aloof. And while the songs I heard were quite a depressing lot, with allusions to “miserable skin,” “loving a thing like me,” and other dark and dreary couplets, the people on hand certainly were enjoying themselves. The mixed crowd of older and younger, maybe half men and half women, was rapt at times, raucous at others, while Lewis sang in a strong, clear voice. His demeanor was a clear contrast to the pain of his lyrics. It certainly does seem like a lot of pain to be carrying around. There has to come a time when we can’t really sing of pain anymore and must sing of joy instead. But not this night.

So my friend and I snuck out of that concert hall like rats, and scurried out into a beautiful clear night. Just when we felt like all hope might be lost forever, the bright red neon of Beertown beckoned. We answered the call. And all was well in the kingdom once again.

SCOTT OTTO studied journalism at the University of Las Vegas until a fateful メcareer dayモ excursion with a crusty and bitter journalist turned him off from the profession. After giving up on this dream, he moved to Los Angeles and has lived there for the last ten years, writing things no one in their right mind would publish. Drifting along through the music and film industries, heユs finally settled into a comfortable rut, pursuing a burgeoning voice over career and, like a phoenix rising from the ashes, has decided to begin writing again. Heユs never been nominated for any awards, and heユs never saved anyoneユs life. On the plus side, heユs a really nice guy, takes good care of his family, and makes a pretty mean pasta sauce.