Monday, October 17, 2011

Did I tell you about the time I saw Electric Six?

I was in Detroit.  That's where they're from.  So, it was a big gig for them.  If you don't recognize the name, it's possible you've heard this song:
Or, maybe this one:

Amazing stuff huh?  I first got into these guys through a girl I knew up in Michigan.  They were her favorite band, and I can't blame her, actually.  It's ridiculous and over the top and perhaps offensive, but that's kind of what makes it so great.  And, if I may digress (and I may because this is my blog, not yours) "Gay Bar" was my song when doing noraebang (karaoke) in Korea.  In fact, there was at least one time when I performed the song in front of my boss, his wife and all the Korean staff from the school.  I was too drunk to feel weird or embarrassed about it then, but I'm not drunk now.

But back to seeing the band.  I forget when I saw them, I guess last fall/winter.  Seems like it was kind of cold.  Could have been early spring, too.  I hopped in my car and drove to motor city.  I got there pretty early, which was good because I hadn't had dinner.  I found the place and parked my car.  It seemed pretty shady.  I know what you're thinking: a shady part of Detroit?  I don't believe it!  But it's true.  But that did not deter me from parking my car and setting out on foot to find food.  Of course, like many big cities, Detroit has this way of changing from dark and scary to totally ok for white people within a block or two.  I walked past a dive bar with a beggar outside who rambled some story before I said, "sorry, all I have is plastic" and marked it in my mind.  If I didn't find a better place in a two block radius, I would come back.  There were people in there, what are the chances I'd never been seen again, right?  Lo and behold, though two more blocks down and I was suddenly in Greek Town.  I didn't even know Detroit had a Greek Town, but I found it.
Being in this little section of Greek Town I learned a few things about Greece and Greek people.  First, they love to gamble, so the anchor of the town was a casino.  Second, as I'm sure you all know, Greece is known for pizza, as was shown by the large number of pizza places, and finally, they REALLY love beer.  Gambling isn't my thing, especially when I'm hungry, kind of poor and about to go to a concert.  So, I bypassed the casino and focused my Greek cultural experience on pizza and beer.

Pizza alone can be tough.  Not every place has personal sized pizzas.  I was sitting at the bar, glancing at a menu and pondering this dilemma when fate intervened.  Who was sitting two spots down from me, but a pretty, young business lady.  These are some of my favorite types of people.  She was a little older than me I'd guess, or maybe it just seemed that way because of her professional job.  She had one of those jobs that necessitated a lot of travel and moving about for her.  It brought with it a decent salary and free stays at hotels.  Why do I like this so much?  No friends nearby, a decent amount of money and lots of boredom, means you're going to find a bar near your hotel, buy what you want, talk to who you want and have fun.  She didn't care that there was no way she could even eat a small pizza.  She wanted pizza, she had the money and when it came, it was time to share.  And who better to share with than the only other person sitting at the bar.  Now, if I were a different kind of guy, I probably would have shared some pizza, had a few beers and said, "to hell with my concert, let's check out your hotel room."  Or, "come with me to the show and if you don't like it, we can get some more beer and hang out in your room."  But, I didn't do that.  I guess I'd rather go see a concert than spend my evening not satisfying a woman I just met.

What did I do?  I scooted a little closer, ate some of her beer and talked to her.  Turned out she was just coming back from Dubai, where she worked with the department of education or some such thing.  At the time I was considering teaching in Dubai.  I wasn't getting laid, but I did have a business connection served up on a silver platter, gift wrapped and placed in my lap.  And what did I do?  Nothing.  I mean, I told her I was thinking about working in Dubai, but I didn't try to get an e-mail or anything from her. Nothing to even sort of keep in touch.  I also had an extra ticket to the concert.  This was my last chance.  I could have at least put the invite out there.  She was just going back to her hotel room.  Why not come with me for a little bit?  It was free for her, no obligation.  But, I didn't do that either.  Strike 3.  I look back now and think "what's the worst that could happen?"  Sure, she might have said no, but we were already chatting so she would have let me down easy.  Plus, I was a little tipsy and about to go to a concert.  Even if did get rejected and a little deflated, I would have bounced back no problem.  I should have gone for it, if for nothing more than the story.  I mean, it's still a story, but wouldn't it be better if the lady went to the concert with me?  You know it would have.  And once we made that step, who knows what might have been next.  Maybe next time.

Alone I went to the concert.  I gave my extra ticket to a couple of girls standing in line to buy tickets.  I could have latched on to them at that point maybe.  But I didn't.  The concert was pretty good.  There were two openers, both from Detroit I think, or at least from Michigan.  They weren't bad.  Not amazing, but they fit with the Electric Six vibe pretty well.  The highlight came between the second band and Electric Six.  A marching band came out, marching through the crowd, playing their drums and brass.  They snaked their way through the crowd for a couple minutes, then stopped not far from me and broke it down for awhile.  It was pretty fun.  Definitely more interesting than just normal filler music or watching the techs set up the gear for the next band.

Electric Six came out and Dick Valentine (the lead singer) was definitely high on something--I'm putting my bet on coke, but I don't know this stuff, really.  The show was pretty great.  Fun and crazy as I expected.  At some point these two girls squeezed up in front of me.  They were definitely party girls and probably drunk.  One of them, a blonde, starts backing up into me a little and shaking her stuff.  I wasn't going to stop her, or give up my spot because she was rubbing her ass on my hand.  I had my hand in my jacket pocket and she started rubbing her ass up against it.  I didn't know what this was about.  Was she trying to make me do something?  Was she thinking, "is that some dudes hand?  Let me feel with my butt a little more"?  Apparently the latter.  Because she turned and accused me of trying to grab her ass.  I wasn't.  I mean, I wasn't moving away from her ass, but I don't go to a concert to try to cop a feel on some chick.  It's kind of an odd situation to be in a crowd of people and have someone saying "were you trying to grab my ass?  You were totally touching me."  First, the music is still playing so communicating means shouting at each other.  So I wonder who else can maybe hear this exchange, her accusing, me denying.  Second, it's one of those things where the more you deny, the more guilty you seem.  I don't think she ever believed me, but I stopped listening to her and focused on what was happening on the stage.

Apparently she wasn't too put off by the ass grabbing incident, or she just has a short memory, because it wasn't too long before she turned around, grabbed me and started kissing me.  Not bad, though I couldn't enjoy it fully because I kept thinking, "what the fuck is going on?" and "exactly how trashy is it to make out with a stranger at a concert, and right up front no less?"  A little bit later she and her friend left.  Leaving the concert, I saw her hanging on some douche bag with a white ball cap and a polo shirt.  Fucking bros.  It's cool, though.  I think they deserved each other.

After that, it was just a long drive home.  I think I stopped and slept in my car somewhere, but that's not very exciting.  Though it is kind of fun.  Makes me feel like a real road warrior.  A real traveler.

Thanks for reading, friends.  Next time it will be seeing Art Brut in Chicago, or maybe doing illegal things with a stranger in Michigan.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks

Last night I went to a concert in Indianapolis.  If you don't know Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks, you should.  They're one of those bands I feel are hard to really dislike.  Maybe they aren't everyone's favorite, but what's to dislike? Here's a sweet little song.  And Malkmus is definitely a good guitarist.  Maybe not a Clapton or Prince, but he's no slouch.
Anyway, I don't want to spend too much time drooling over Mr. Malkmus and his band. What I'm really trying to talk about here is being at the concert.

The concert was at the Earth House in Indianapolis.  It's a cool little place downtown in an old church.  There are a couple doors on the outside that seem like they could be entrance doors, but are not.  Luckily, when I arrived, the group of hipsters standing around outside served as a great marker for the proper entrance door.  I don't know why I have this dislike of hipsters, but I do.  Maybe it's because I'm from Columbus and I've never really lived anywhere where hipsters are common.  Maybe I'm just an asshole.  Maybe I'm jealous because they're more committed to the hipster style than I am, and even when you're almost 30, being able to fit in is kind of nice.  And I have to be honest, I might as well be a hipster.  I mean, I listen to indie music that hardly anyone else likes and I resist even indie/hipster bands that I think are too popular.  Wilco?  Never even listened to them.  But, I also don't spend all my time digging up the most obscure, weird bands I can.  People who do that are dicks. People who do that were probably present at this concert.  Of course, a hipster can be spotted his/her clothes as well, and even there I'm not totally innocent.  I certainly don't think I look like a hipster most of the time, but let's have some more confession time.  I went to the concert right after work.  I could have just worn my work clothes, perhaps dressed down a little so I wouldn't be in slacks and a dress shirt, but other than that no real planning is needed.  And yet, I picked my t-shirt specifically in hopes that it would be noticed.  And, though it has nothing to do with any bands, it's still probably the most indie, hipster t-shirt I own.  I was just waiting for someone to say, "hey, cool shirt" and then I could be like, "oh thanks, it was actually designed and screen printed by hand by a guy who does this really cool webcomic."  Seriously I had the conversation in my head several times through the night.

By the way, Here is that comic.  He's got some guest comics going right now, so you'll have to go back a couple posts to see his real work.  And, here is he great shirt.

So, it seems that really I am a hipster and a self-absorbed asshat to boot.  Yet, despite this knowledge, I still get uncomfortable in the presence of hipsters and I dislike them.  Perhaps because I also know I'm just a poser and they're the real deal.

That means I just took several days between that last sentence and this one.  So, when I said the concert was yesterday, that was the truth when I started writing this entry on Thursday.  Now, it's Sunday and hopefully I'll get this done.

So, as I was saying.  I'm a hipster poser.  On with the concert.  After I got (mostly) over my shock at walking into ground zero for Indiana hipsterdom, the concert soon started.  the opening band was Holy Sons.  From the little sample there at the show, I think they're worthy of being checked out.  Which you can do right here.  They're definitely one of the best opening bands I've seen.  The only exceptions being when I first saw Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks open for Radiohead, and when Sonic Youth played before Pavement last year.  They may not have really been the opening act, but more co-headliners.    The real opening band at the concert was No Age, who just don't really do it for me. 

After Holy Sons there was of course some filler music playing.  This music, played before the show and between sets is my segue into a 3 different topics.  First, how much dancing is proper at this time?  Before the show started there were some really good songs on that I liked and I was kind of getting into the groove.  But, I wasn't sure if I should be enjoying the recorded music so much when I was at a live show.  I mean, I can listen to my iPod anywhere.
Second: Who picks this music?  Most of it was good, as I said, but between sets Depeche Mode came on.  I guess I shouldn't have qualified that last sentence with "Most of it was good," because that makes it sound like Depeche Mode is not good.  I kind of like Depeche Mode and it took me back to my freshman year of college when my roommate was a big Depeche Mode fan.  The problem is, Depeche Mode just make very different music from Stephen Malkmus.  It definitely stuck out.  And then I really had to wonder: "how much am I allowed to get into this right now?"
Finally, it was during this between set music that I saw this girl.  She was wearing a yellow top and these black pleated shorts with pockets and she had on a little backpack and some kind of flat soled black shoes.  And I forget about her hair, but I remember her lips.  Her top lip arched up really high.  I don't know if I can explain it well.  The middle part of her lip, that little curve under the nose, seemed higher than normal, with the sides falling more sharply to the corners of her mouth.  It gave her this really tender kind of look, sort of fragile or something.  She was cute.  I kept looking back at her and sort of hoped to get her attention.  I'm not sure if I ever really did.  I mean, I think she kind of saw me looking her direction once or twice, but we never really had eye contact.  Here's a good time to mention that there was no alcohol at the venue.  And, in the words of Kimya Dawson, of Moldy Peaches fame, "without 40 ounces of social skills I'm just an ass on the crack of humanity."  So, even later, when the girl moved from her spot near the middle of the crowd to a spot very near me closer to the front, I could never quite get up the courage to say anything.  Not even, "How do you like the show?" Or, "have you ever seen them before?" Which would have opened the door for me to be super impressive and say, "Me?  Yeah, actually I saw these guys open for Radiohead back in 2003, and I saw Pavement during their reunion tour last year at the Hollywood Bowl."  Instead, I just looked at her a couple times, but averted my eyes every time I thought she might notice my looks and just hoped she'd notice my cool shirt and say something to me.  It did not happen. 

In fact, the only person I talked with at all was some drunk lady who asked me to dance.  I said no a few times, but she insisted and really, I love dancing.  Sometimes "no" does mean, "yes."

As far as Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks, they were pretty good. I think I could have used a beer to dull some of my self-consciousness, but otherwise a fun time was had by me.