Many moons ago, when I was working on my BA at Agnes Scott College – right about the time my health started going all wonky, as it turns out (hindsight, and all) – there was one semester when Cactus Girl dragged me out to see live bands. I used to go see live shows all the time, but this semester marked the beginning of what I refer to as “can’t be bothered with anything” syndrome, something I spent ten years writing off (and beating myself up over) as a character flaw.
At any rate, one of the bands we went to see quite a bit was called The Bibles. They were fun to see live – and CG and I had quite the adventures that semester. Probably the most fun I had at college.
So, CG, this one’s for you. What?! *head cock* (does that count as mixing metaphors? lol)
**Image By Astrotool (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons
I’ve been to a lot of concerts in my life. Some, like INXS (before Michael Hutchence passed away) and Depeche Mode, I’ve seen multiple times. Others, I’ve only seen once.
This is one of the latter.
And, sadly, it’s also the only show I can honestly say I was pissed off about.
See, I’m not a huge Sisters of Mercy fan – I have a few favorite tunes, and have heard enough to know they sound awesome in a club and make great dancing music. I’d always wanted to see them live, but since they don’t tour in the US often (as far as I remember), I’d never had the chance. When they played a club tour back in the earlyish 2000s, you can bet I jumped at the chance to go.
If memory serves, it was Fall of 2005 – I had moved back from Los Angeles to Florida earlier that year – and decided to move back up to Atlanta after giving teaching a try (not one of my best fits work-wise.) It was also the year that I got to see Bauhaus in Ft. Lauderdale before I moved and Front 242 in Atlanta within weeks of Sisters of Mercy.
At any rate, it was an exciting time, because I never thought I’d get to see any of the three live. Ever.
I ended up going to the Sisters of Mercy show by myself, which isn’t a big deal – I’ve done that plenty and have zero qualms about it. (I always say, I’d never do anything if I balked at doing stuff alone.) I paid for my ticket, and between that and Atlanta parking, I paid near $70. I was running late (thanks to not being able to find parking), so missed part of the opening song (SOM is one of the only bands I’ve ever heard of who started a show exactly on time). None of that would have been a big deal had the show blown me out of the water.
I go to live shows to hear the music, yes, but to also watch the musicians do what they do best. I love watching them interact with their audience and watching the audience adore them in return. The love definitely spreads, and so I leave any concert feeling happy and fulfilled and upbeat.
I walked into the club and the smoke machine was in full force. All you could see onstage was smoke, an occasional glimpse of Andrew Eldritch’s bald head, and a balloon tied to the neck of the bass player’s bass. I thought surely the smoke would dissipate, but nope. I paid way too much money to sit and watch smoke for about an hour.
For all that, I could have stayed home, shut myself in my bedroom, put on Floodland, chain smoked, and spent the $70 on something else.
I still love the Sisters of Mercy songs I love, and Lucretia My Reflection is one of them. Despite the crappy live experience, I have great memories of Respectable Street Café and hearing the strains of Lucretia, or This Corrosion, or Dominion filter out over the speakers, and hitting the dance floor with my friends.
And despite the fact I keep in touch with very few people from the Respectable days, those memories are among the best, drama-filled, chaotic, and emotionally-charged memories I have.
True Story. Way back in the day, when I was attending college just outside of Atlanta (shout out to Agnes Scott College and the Black Ring Mafia), 99x was the station to listen to. Every summer for a number of years they had the “On the Bricks” summer concert series. The only one I went to was in mid-June 2001 to see Vertical Horizon.
I’ve long had a “thing” for bald men. Don’t know when it started – or why – but smooth as glass or the tiniest bit stubbly, there’s just something about shaved heads that makes me crazy. I love rubbin’ on them. I love shaving them. I love looking at them.
A bald head is also the reason behind meeting Rockstar (see my essay “Ten Steps for Befriending a Rockstar or The Gentle Art of Stalking” in Fractured: essays on love, friendships, and the nightmares in between for that story – he also has impeccable grammar. For the record.) a couple of years earlier. On a sultry summer evening in Atlanta, Matt Scannell was just the ticket.
I’d convinced a few college friends to go with me, and we all hung out until Vertical Horizon came on, and then we scurried up to the front of the crowd. They played a couple of songs, and we grooved along until Matt S. started chatting up the crowd. “How are you?” he asked. “Are you doing well?”
I swung my head to look at one of my friends, my eyes wide as could be, and said, “Oh, my God! He has the *best* grammar!”
She gave me a weird look (the same look I get all the time from just about everyone I know, and even some I don’t) and said, “You are the only person I know who’d get off on proper grammar.”
I grinned and went back to lusting over Matt. That didn’t last too long, but only because they shut the show down early on account of lightning and an impending thunderstorm. The evening ended with my friends (including Rodney H. who was covering the show for whatever newspaper he was writing for at the time) and I, soaked to the bone, sitting in Denny’s, where I shook like a junkie in need of a fix because they had the AC turned down to about -20.
One of these days I’ll get around to seeing Vertical Horizon live again. Until then, I’ll continue crushing on Matt, his impeccable grammar, and his deliciously bald head.
I’m not convinced, though, any of it is because I’m a writer.