Monday, April 2, 2012

Observations from a water drinking gig attendee

 The tall svelte raven-like creature I saw on the bus is also here, sitting in the corner alone, face lighting up every minute and a half from the cool steely-blue glow of her iPhone. She madly checks into her life in text messages sent and received as a means of escaping from the reality of being here at this show all alone. She's Ill at ease like a lot of others, nursing drinks with one hand and gesturing with the other. 
Already people are stumbling around glassy eyed and the show hasn't even begun yet. Hell, the room isn't even half full yet.
This is going to be an interesting night.
 We're all posturing and itching to be/not to be seen in this scene of life, no matter how tough or weak looking, no matter how well dressed or sloppy, no matter how drunk and brave or sober and awkward, we're all united on this tiny rotating crust and we all secretly wish we could stand alone, together. I nurse my third glass of ice water and try to maintain an air of confidence as i peer around the growing crowd, listening to snippets of conversation and watching the actors play their parts in the big game of gig attending.
This is shaping up to be an interesting night.
 I'm not drinking like the rest of them. I'm not stoned like some of them. My energy is even keeled and I'm feeling quite happy about it. This is still a novelty, this being sober at events thing and i admit that it's still a bit strange. I feel like everyone knows. You know, like when you're stoned or something and you feel like everyone can tell? That's kind of where I'm at right now. But it's okay. My eyes are wide open, taking in more than I can remember ever having taken in before.
I spot the svelte Raven as she slams back a can of PBR and looks around. She looks like she wonders if anyone can see her, if anyone knows that she's alone. I know. I'm alone too. Kinda itchy isn't it?
We all try to maintain the decorum of cool, even though we're all just nerds in disguise. Some proudly wear their colors, some don't. Some will pull it off and some just won't.
It's looking like a revealing night.
 The red overhead house lights reflect off this ginger beardo dudes pallid skin, giving him a ghostly eerie sheen. He has bags under his eyes and he looks like he's been soaking in a puddle of milk for a week, but he has a nice smile and the girl he's chatting up seems to like him okay. Maybe he's dead and that's attractive to her because maybe todays ladies totally dig a dead guy. All i can think of is how well a zombie would do in a mosh pit.
A tarty blond with a pretty face and skinny legs that don't look strong enough to support her upper half tosses back a beer that she's probably too young to be drinking in world record time. She stumbles back a bit as if hit by a strong gust of wind and her eyes go out of focus, but she's a trooper and regains her footing. I've watched her and her buddy circuit the room, stopping to stand briefly next to guys they think are cute and then they run off giggling to get more beer.
Meaty jean jacket kids hit their Cariboo hard like it owes them rent money and then they get into mock fights with their pals. Hard rock wrestling matches that only alcohol can fuel are ways these fellows pass the time before the music starts. Girlfriends hover in circles, chattering and eyeing up other groups of girlfriends and talk about how they wish their men would spend as much time wrestling them as they did with their rock and roll buddies. Beer gets spilled and dander gets raised but it all washes away with a bad joke and some boisterous laughter.
For some this is going to be another one of those nights.
 The Ramones are on the house speakers and it's way too loud, or maybe i just hate the Ramones. Yeah, I think that's the problem. But it's not like I'm going to ask them to turn it down. The crowd gets thicker. It's almost show time. More drinking. More noise. More things to watch. I am at a gig for the first time while sober and while I may be near to being the 'odd man out' I take heart that this is going to be a well recollected and healthy night.
 Incredibly heavy music is followed by ears ringing, booze replenishing and glazed eyed milling around pockets of folks engaged in the various intricacies of conversation. Drunken friends old and new bond over shared tastes in alcohol, career and musical choices. Numbers and plans are promised, some soon forgotten and others even tossed away in disinterest. 
In the toilet a sweat drenched skid next to me sways as he's pissing and i pray that he keeps his spray to himself. These urinals are gross enough and i don't need stranger pee on me unless I've paid for it. Later after the show I see him half walking/half jogging diagonally toward his home in the east side where he will crash hard into bed, and where his night will wash partly away into a blur of mucky colors like paint thinner thrown onto a brightly colored canvas. 
I've been there a few times and I don't envy him for a second.
I'm grateful that I'm no longer keen on having one of those kinds of nights.
 It's midnight, I am naturally sleepy and I kind of can't wait to get back home to my woman. She's the intoxication I need right now but there is still a headliner act on stage and I have a job to do and I'm glad that I'll be able to do it well. 
This band is much friendlier to the ears. The other band was cool as well, but this guitar heavy emotive rock has united the crowd in a more positive way. The room is solidly packed with a sold out crowd and the temperature is much higher in here than it is out there. I keep a comfortable distance from the thick of the throng but stay within enough to really feel it. There are bodies surfing the crowd every couple of minutes and beer is flying everywhere. A communal joint is passed amongst a bunch of people in front of me and I catch a faint whiff. It's nice and a whiff is all i need. I enjoy watching the dude in front of me get more animated as a result of his long steady draw from this joint that has somehow made an arc to near the front of the room and almost back towards where i am again. I always appreciated a well rolled joint that seemed to last forever. To my right and downwind is the skinny tarty blond who's being well jostled around by the heaving crowd but still holding her own and having fun. She's a funny dancer and i bless her, wishing her a safe rest of the night. Near the front and side of stage is tall cool raven-child looking stone faced and disinterested. She checks her phone. I wonder why she's even here but then i bless her her and hope that next time her friends manage to show up. Ginger beard ends up riding on top of the crowd and loses his toque in the mass. But he doesn't seem to mind. After all he is a zombie with a nice smile and the world is full of toques. All around me are drunk and happy people united in the name of music that is powerful and thrumming a steady rhythm in my heart. Those guitar tones are awfully pretty and we all know it. 
 I take my leave as the last chords are ending. I don't feel like fighting my through the hundreds strong mad dash out the door. I'm ready to head home to familiar territory and to begin processing an experience i will later write about for a local publication. With peace and contentment in my heart and clarity in my brain I begin the walk to the bus stop, happy to have been in this room full of strangers who gave me things to ponder and observe, thankful for the power of music that, as always, has restored my faith and love for artistic expression. Thankful for eyes with which to see people enjoying, thankful for ears in which to hear it all, thankful for another day and many more to come. 
Thankful for an interesting and revealing night.


  1. Ha, I love your take on the show. It's usually a lot more fun to review the crowd than the show, and always ends in more hilarious results. I should have gone to that one, then you wouldn't have been the only sober one there.

  2. I love texture and flow of your language my dear fellow.