Saturday, April 17, 2010

Thrash Unreal by the Men's Room Door

Not to rub it in your face or anything, but yours truly was the bathroom monitor for the men's bathroom at Alley Katz for the Against Me! show tonight. As more than one guy told me, "You ought to be getting paid for this." I ought to be getting paid for something, that's for sure.

My bathroom management began because, arriving near the beginning of Dead to Me's set, I found a great place to stand with an unobstructed view. It was on the side of the stage, three feet from the band and I was only two people back. For a short person (let's just say I never get to see musician's legs), that's an infrequent vantage point. The last time I remember such a great view was a Pinback show at the Satellite Ballroom several years back and it was a revelation.

So I happily took up residence just to the right of the men's room door. Dead to Me's lead singer was just telling the audience how great a show Against Me! was going to be. He then looked up at the people on the third floor and said, "I was looking at these guys when I said that, but it's true for you guys, too...you posers! Afraid to be down here and have a real moshing experience?" The posers didn't respond. Dead to Me continued with their energetic set.

During their set, guys kept coming to use the facilities and it soon became clear that there was no process in place, no clear line and as a result, girls were walking into the men's room (not a good idea when guys are using the sink as a back-up urinal) and others were butting in line. I took charge, directing girls away to the proper place and telling the guys where the line was. It only made sense and worked out well for me as I now had an ever-changing line of potential music conversational partners.

I'd say close to three quarters of the guys had seen Against Me! before. Of those who hadn't, most were like me, had missed seeing them the last time they came through and were determined to see them at Alley Katz tonight. I asked one guy his three favorite bands; he said Interpol, Editors and the Shins. When I said I'd seen all three live, he about lost it. Editors, especially was of such interest to him that he gave up his place in line to quiz me on where and when and how good it had been; the man wanted details. When another guy learned I'd seen the Arcade Fire, he was so impressed that I was afraid he was going to kiss the hem of my skirt. Seriously.

One guy recognized me immediately while I had no idea who he was: turns out he's the new food talent in Carlos' kitchen at Bistro 27 and we'd just met Thursday (sorry, he was out of context and looked different in real clothes after having met him in chef garb). As the night wore on, guys were back in line and greeting me like an old friend. It was pretty funny.

I know old-school Against Me! fans shun the band post-New Wave, their major label debut. I also know Spin named New Wave the number one album of the year for 2007. Somewhere in between I'm happy to appreciate their melodic punk muscle, especially in an ideal venue for them like Alley Katz. Despite an alarming number of people using earplugs (seriously, kids, live music is supposed to ruin your hearing; believe me, I know), moshing and stage diving were rampant and you can't get that at the National or the Camel.

Tom Gabel's voice was terrific live, their energy indicated they really were happy to be playing rva and they played old and new material to satisfy the sing-along crowd. Before the encore, two bathroom line guys I'd already talked to came by to pee and ask if I thought the show was as excellent as they had. I'm not sure why they wanted a first-timer's opinion, but I assured them that I did. The WRIR DJ I'd met in line came by and thoughtfully gave me the link to his podcasts. The nearby bouncer thanked me for all my hard work managing the line, making his job easier.

Hey, you do what you have to do at a punk show. More than one guy asked me why I was putting up with the endless line of guys, but when I explained my superior vantage point, they immediately got it.

Sometimes you've got to suffer for art, even if all you're doing is appreciating rather than creating it. I'm okay with that, although my bruised toes would probably beg to differ.

But my ringing ears couldn't be happier.

3 comments:

  1. hey, i was one of the dudes in line and you did do an awesome job keeping us moving. i agree the show was amazing, you should of joined us in the pit!!!

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  2. bg: You said it!

    sm: And lose my great view? Surely you jest!

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