Saturday, February 15, 2014

Love Will Never Do

Know what I did for Valentine's Day last year? Fainted.

Know what I did this year? Took a friend and my hired mouth out to eat and then went to the same Black Valentine's Day show during which I'd fainted smack dab in the middle of last year's.

Instead of waking up on the cold restaurant kitchen floor, a man told me, "I love you so much." and kissed me.

Granted, it was DJ Charlie of WRIR'S "The Creepy Side of Love" show and his lovely girlfriend was standing right next to him, but on Valentine's Day you take your "I love yous" where you can get them.

When my friend and I arrived at Gallery 5, a surprising number of people were sporting something red (me included) and Charlie was playing his usual outstanding mix of music.

Tonight that included a remix of Janet Jackson's "Someone to Call My Lover" that caught my ear, no doubt partly because the organizer of the Black Valentine Day show had posted a link right before the show to Janet's "Love Will Never Do (Without You)" video, which I'd watched for the first time probably since 1991.

So right there was more Janet Jackson than I'd listened to in decades although there was no denying both were appropriate VD songs.

The friend I'd brought has recently moved to Jackson Ward and it was his first trip to G5, so I introduced him to everyone I could - my photographer friend who came with a guy in the scrap business who had great stories, the neighborhood rock god, the fuzz guitarist -  while admiring the holiday decor of red hearts along the top of the stage and black balloons dangling from the ceiling.

Clayton England got up to play first, saying,"Thanks for coming. We appreciate you being single, drunk and here."

The Black Valentine's Day show is all about songs of love gone wrong and Clayton had a few of his own before doing a Mariah Cary song he'd first heard blasting at a Puerto Rican girlfriend's apartment in fourth grade.

He then had someone hand him one of the balloons, untied the knot and began inhaling the helium to reach the desired register to sing Mariah's song.

With no Mariah knowledge, I can't tell you what song it was but I do know he said, "That's about as cheesy as it's going to get" afterwards.

"Play a love song!" someone in the crowd called out.

"Yea, right," he said dismissively before singing more woeful songs.

During the break we noticed the half a dozen guys who had red boutonnieres on because they were being auctioned off later.

As WRIR's Lindsay, our hostess for the evening, had put it online earlier, "Live bachelor auction so buy a man and treat yourself."

That would be a treat, all right.

It was hilarious when the scrap guy asked the photographer what he was doing for Valentine's Day and when he said he was getting a couples' massage with his girlfriend, replied, "You're not allowed to be here."

Okay, technically anyone can come to the Black VD show, but it does tend to be the unloved.

The Cales were up next and they referred to themselves as the Pixies with a male and female singer before doing a Jesus and Mary Chain song.

Their sound was noisy, sometimes like punk, sometimes like grunge and the crowd was digging it.

They did the Shangralas' "Remember (Walkin' in the Sand)" after telling the crowd to look up the Shangralas if they didn't know them.

They concluded heir set by yelling, "F*ck love!" and getting cheers for it. Both the friend I'd brought and the photographer turned to tell me how much they'd enjoyed the band, a unanimous opinion despite at least twenty years separating their ages.

I think one heard punk influences and the other heard grunge.

Then it was time to sell off male flesh and Lindsay took the stage to do it, with Charlie providing exactly the right music for each part of the proceedings.

Just as she began to explain how the auction would work, her boyfriend Tim got onstage behind her and turned on a smoke machine, causing her to say, "That was annoying and unnecessary."

Saying that cash, checks and credit cards would be taken in payment for men, she yelled, "The sky's the limit...or your credit card limit."

Then as the bachelor mounted the stage, Charlie would play a sultry song and Lindsay would read the answers to the questions he'd given.

Bachelor #1 said the first thing he noticed about a girl was her inner beauty and he was the icebreaker to get people comfortable enough to start bidding.

WRIR DJ Shannon was #2 and the first thing he claimed to notice was if a girl was naturally interesting. He sold for a robust $50 to a long-haired gentleman in front (that would be musician Joon).

The third hunk of man meat up for grabs was Clayton, who'd opened the show musically.

His favorite animal was Animal from "The Muppets" and his fave color was Springsteen's jean jacket blue.

He also went for half a C-note, and prompted a guitarist friend to turn around and observe to me, "The same girl kept putting her hand up, bidding against herself."

It was true and not real bright, but given that WRIR was the beneficiary, did it really matter if she didn't have the hang of an auction?

Next came my friend Matt, a graphic designer and musician, who when asked what he wanted on his tombstone, had replied, "helvetica." Now that's funny.

It was no surprise to me to hear that his favorite band was Yo la Tengo since we've discussed that many times but I had no clue he could recite every word to "Star Wars."

The long-haired gentleman in the front purchased him for $65.

As the final prices continued to escalate, Lindsay saw fit to remind the crowd, "I did not promise sexual favors with these guys."

Ah, but one can always hope.

Bachelor #5's favorite song was Outkast's "So Fresh So Clean" and said the first thing he notices on a girl is her eyeballs.

Where he got widespread attention was with his favorite drink, vanilla Coke, prompting Lindsay to ask if he drank. He didn't.

"He's sober!" she  squealed. His hidden talent was punctuality and he went for $90 "to the pixie girl in the front."

The last guy was introduced as giving the best hugs, a good thing given that his worst pickup line was, "This may be a little forward but you make me feel tingly in my downstairs."

He got points for his favorite song - Pet Shop Boys' "West End Girls" - but sealed the deal with his sense of humor when asked what he wanted on his tombstone.

Born March whatever, Died in your arms tonight. Must have been something you said.

Could he have been any more clever while being sold to the highest bidder?

After that thrill, there was nothing to do but exchange money for man flesh and finish out the evening with Lightfields.

Before their second song, Prabir walks onstage and the singer looks at us and asks, "You know this cat?" We did. "We totally didn't write this song."

Sure didn't. It was Weezer's "No One Else" and Prabir did a good job with it, but it was totally strange to see him singing without a guitar in front of him.

I want a girl who laughs for no one else
When I'm away, she puts her makeup on the shelf
When I'm away, she never leaves the house
I want a girl who laughs for no one else

He left and the Lightfields' singer explained that in addition to cover songs, they were playing original songs of love gone bad "because all our songs are about love gone bad."

They had another guest singer, a female this time and she took them through the Smiths' "How Soon is Now?" not an easy song, although certainly appropriate.

For the big finale, after all the men had been sold off like cattle, our hostess Lindsay joined Lightfields for the ultimate Black Valentine's Day show song, demanding that crowd sing along.

Ferociously belting out "You Oughta Know" like she knew how it felt to be dumped, the band was right there with her righteous indignation.

Well I'm here to remind you
Of the mess you left when you went away
It's not fair to deny me
Of the cross I bear that you gave to me
You, you, you oughta know

The men looked a little glazed, but the women seemed to be singing right along. Must have been something she sang.

I was just glad to have seen the whole show from a cognizant, upright position.

Seems like I'm back on the Valentine's day success track.

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