(Begun 26 Jan 05, completed 6 Feb, updated 7 Feb.)
Notes to self: didn't realize it at the time, but Rat was completely fucking wasted by the time we went on. He fell backwards into Don's amp from AWK's initial downbeat, and he didn't stop falling until his train arrived in Raleigh 48 hours later. The stage was under siege throughout most of the show... Roger from Monotract, Leah from Magik Markers, Max and Twig from Nautical Almanac, one of the nutcases from 16 Bitch Pile-Up... Christ, I lost count. Mic cables unplugged during a third of the performance. No monitors. Ben's amp was fucked by someone in one of the supporting bands. (Thanks for giving us a hint!) Andrew's electronic triggers didn't trigger much of anything, as those cables had also been jerked from corresponding sockets.
We began with "Percent Obstruct Street," one of the new pieces from the 12/04 Echo Canyon sessions. Audience went spectral shades of apeshit, but as I couldn't make sense of anything we were doing, I kinda shrugged and wondered what the big deal was.
No sense of shared nothin'. My own movements appeared to be projected on a similar, mesomorphic outline, a blurred version of myself. Chris, Thurston, and Ben were buried in toxic sludge; Don and Andrew were chewing their lips in deafening 5.1 Dolby.
99% of the time, Rat was face down. Aud ate heaps...
We followed "Obstruct" with a 40-minute (yup) version of another of the December songs, "Mothers Over Silverpoint." By terminus, stage had pretty much been demolished. Not my desire. For the generous audience, however, this seemed to represent the living fucking end. They howled for a very long time. Alas, as the congregation bellows, my belief in the Scriptures nosedives.
Another goddamned spectacle, at yet another fucking noise gig... Jesus, at this juncture I'd sooner we opened for Manowar! (Or, The Libertines. Sparklehorse. Red House Painters. The Music. Muse.)
Seriously bummed afterwards; our set was such a stalled Amtrak suicide bid. I thought we hadn't done much of anything, save survive (or otherwise avoid) a series of gruesome mishaps. Ben and I were glum in the downstairs lounge; the kind words of sundry well-wishers made no impact. Kim and Thurston dropped by; they could see disappointment in our orbz. (It's not that we thought we sucked, but we'd planned on levitating the fucking Pentagon. No smiles on my mug for 20 hours...) Ugly chicks dangled invites to drug soirees. One, without making eye contact, said to me "dude, you're a wild man." I wanted to fucking die, or at least shove a good book in her face. As useless gestures and orphaned urges beget naught but frustration, we opted to evacuate.
A trio of purported comrades, each wrecked on malign substances for which they obviously had little tolerance, flapped their jaws derisively as we departed. Knowing that they had spent the better part of our performance thrashing about either on or at the periphery of our stage, mouths agape, soiling themselves, I dismissed their pitiable taunts and exited into the bitter DC night. Still, the vibe, such as it was, had been spoiled. Scowling at these miserable, "transgressive" chimps, we floored the van and got the fuck out of muzak Hell.
(I forgave these poor louts their lack of grace, knowing full well I've still a volume or two - or ten - to absorb on the subject...)
AWK and I retreated to the hotel, where we watched odd infomercials (including the mildly astonishing How To Make $4,000 a Day in Your Underwear at Your Kitchen Table) until Don and Ben arrived from an Jagermeister ice luge afterparty. I slept poorly. Next morning, the cab took forever. Frisked at Reagan; at least the Feds were paying attention! Oafs in Stetsons slouched at the AirTran gate. I was thankful that I'd lost the power of speech.
Very happy to be back in Atlanta. Spent hours shopping for DVDs... Dined at a favorite old haunt, then drove back to Western Blot. Took a valium, and awoke at 3:00 p.m. Elvira signed on to Messenger shortly after, and my life was slowly restored.
I'm looking pretty awful in the photographs, no? All this Euro cavorting has taken me away from my routines. Still, I put a particularly poignant spin on butt-ugly.
Never saw Krist Novoselic upfront, bounding, purportedly, on his twee size-threes. (I only remember a bunch a bearded dudes with cameras, their moist ladies huddled under frilly gingham frocks.) Guy from Fugazi gave me a big hug afterwards, and I was (to borrow a favorite Dave Philips hyphenate) mega-chuffed. (I first met GP in 1984 when Rites of Spring played the same art gallery as Peach of Immortality. Now that, Christian soldiers, was an odd fucking gig.) Never much of a Fug fan (don't think I could name any of their songs; that's no slight, only a reflection of my musical tastes), but I've always thought well of Mr. Picciotto...
As an expression of disdain against a foul status quo, Noise Against Fascism was, on some level, successful. The mainstream media sniffed and moved on. Blogs and boards enjoyed a few days of traffic, after which interest waned... 710 packed into a club which holds 750. Not SRO, but it sure looked as though heads were screwed into rafters. The audience was as welcoming and enthusiastic as any I've seen, and this was gratifying, if not altogether comforting.
(My disappointment and subsequent ambivalence should in no way detract from Chris Grier's achievement; he executed flawlessly. Everyone was paid well, egos were greased, and libations flowed without cease. He ain't TLASILA majordomo for nothin'.)
We bid farewell to genre tedium. Better red than dead, better dead than rigid.
Photograph provided by courtesy of Patrick's NAF Pantophobia archive. Many thanks!