It should be noted that I only go to shows with sentient beings.
P: HEY! Who wants to go with me to this show Saturday? Fo' freeeee?
K: Hey, are you still looking for a companion for the show?
P: Well, X was the first to respond affirmatively, but I will ditch him. Yea, let's go!
K: I don't want to supplant your first choice! Are you sure?
P: Yeah, I'll take care of it.
K: Gee, thanks! But if X takes a turn for the worst for any reason, I'll go straight to the police and tell 'em what you said.
P: The fact is, he's a fine gentleman but he ain't got your gams!
K: Thanks for noticing!
P: I am a sentient being.
We met at my house to walk over to Strange Matter together, a route that allowed him to point out the house in Carver where he lived in the '90s when the neighborhood was much rougher. Not counting the student population, it's almost civilized now and the housing stock is certainly in far better shape.
He'd been wary about walking, convinced we'd freeze, but it didn't take long before he allowed that he'd been wrong. Regaling him with tales from my earlier walk to the river today, he was especially taken with the story of the two boys in the hammock.
"That sounds like you could have made it up," he said without conveying if he thought I had. That's what happens when you're out as much as I am, I told him.
The proof was in the pudding as soon as the first one-woman act, Ghost Piss from NYC (aka River), took the stage, and began lighting candles and incense on her scarf-draped keyboard stand. "Hey, you guys! I used to live here but not for a while now. I came down for a pap smear and got an offer to do this show, so here I am."
I rest my case.
My friend turns around grinning and says, "That's going in the blog. You don't have to make this stuff up, it comes to you." Open yourself up to the universe and it'll envelop you like a shroud, I kid you not.
"I never expected to play this next song in public because it's so personal, but in light of recent circumstances, I'll play it for you guys. Don't judge," she said of a song with the lyric, "Sixty days since I last bled."
She was right, the topic was impeccably timed.
Also pulling from life, in the next song she sang, "Don't ghost me," but what surprised me was my friend sharing that she was second local artist he knew of to use that phrase. We didn't ghost in my day, so I can't relate. She called another song a public service announcement ("So listen up!"), singing, "I want a man who brushes his teeth," and then dedicating it "to all the crust punks who don't brush their teeth."
From behind me, I heard a guy say, "Brush your teeth. No one's gonna do it for you."
When she used the word celibate, my fellow language geek cringed, pointing out that what she meant was chaste, but also acknowledging how often lately the words are used interchangeably.
"But language evolves," he said not sounding entirely convinced. "If literally no longer means literally, that ship has sailed." An appreciation for the finer points of language has always been one of our commonalities. I never have to worry that his messages will be anything less than grammatically sound, correctly spelled and clever, always clever.
During the break, a girl came up to tell me she loved my hair. When I told her I cut it myself, she said she wanted to do the same but lacked the nerve. Like the wise older sister, I assured her it's not tough.
DJ Skirt provided the tunes and I saw two different guys come up and nod appreciatively at him for whatever song he was playing at the moment. After a hip hop song was followed by Nirvana, one of the nodders came over to ask Skirt what in the world he was trying to do.
"Play Nirvana," he said, shrugging. Boom.
After a ridiculously long break to build tension, Dazeases (aka London) came out, dropped her skirt on the stage and opened her set in her bra and panties, her standard M.O. After the first song about unbreakable hearts and before "Baby," she asked that the lights be turned down. "They're too bright for me."
With her torch singer voice, alluring dance moves and distinctive attire, she cut quite a figure prowling the low-lit and smokey stage. She was one part seductress, one part rejector and one part judge for desiring her in the first place.
Before a particularly meaningful song, she tried unsuccessfully for some time to get the room to stop talking and listen to her, even mentioning that she was black in a predominantly white venue, but even calling people out didn't work.
"I don't make these songs for capitalism," she said. "This is about existential dread. I don't care what they sound like, I want you to hear the message."
Once it was break time, I talked to a photographer friend about why he'd broken his hibernation to come out and see Negative Gemini (aka Lindsey), the next act. A huge fan of Lindsey's voice, he'd been bummed when she moved to Queens two years ago and hadn't kept up with her development. Tonight he was thrilled to hear whatever her new sound was.
Although I knew the name, somehow I'd never seen Negative Gemini in all the bazillion shows I've seen in the past decades, yet I also knew absolutely that between the name and that it was electronica, I'd probably love it.
One song in and the room was a strobe light-lit dance party with a swirling light show behind and Lindsey dancing to every song when she wasn't playing keys. Already I was kicking myself for not having scene her before.
"I need to catch my breath," she panted after one exuberant song that had her almost trampling instruments. "This guitar's not safe from me!"
Toward the end, she asked for all the lights to be turned off "except the pretty ones," then she wanted the light show stopped, asking, "Will you kill the projector?" Finally, with no beats or tones playing and no lights flashing, she picked up her guitar.
"This is for my sister," she said and with only the guitar for accompaniment and a pale violet haze of light, began languidly singing Mazzy Star's "Fade Into You" like it was 1994 again.
I want to hold the hand inside you
I want to take a breath that's true
I look to you and I see nothing
I look to you to see the truth
Fade into you
Strange you never knew
What sentient being - celibate, chaste or otherwise - wouldn't want to finish up a Saturday night dance party so hauntingly?