Over the weekend my husband and I drove up to Ypsilanti Michigan to visit some friends, but also, to see the Adam Franklin show (former Swervedriver front man) on a Saturday night and have some fun. What was supposed to be a simple gig experience would unfold to be the second most annoying and overall enraging night I’ve had in a while. I am completely off going to live shows for a long while thanks to Saturday – I mean it. I used to think that my Logan’s Run theory was correct in that most girls stop going to shows around age 28 and are renewed by the younger stock. But that isn’t the whole reason; really it is just that going to live shows sucks these days.
Dear small music venues: When bands are listed to go on at a certain time, kick their fucking ass and get them up and playing at that time! I am so sick of going late to a show on purpose – just to miss the crap opener I don’t care to see – and I get there at 11:30 and they just started playing! Or worse, are still setting up! The second band should not be coming on at midnight. I always thought it was common practice to let the touring band on second, but now I think headliners should always go second and the local band last so they can’t “wait for their friend who hasn’t shown up yet” and so forth.
The beginning of the night was okay. We got to the club around 9pm since we finished dinner early and the show was listed to start at 9:30 in everything we read. Even the front door only listed two bands. I love when only two bands play. Mr. Franklin was hanging around and setting up his merchandise. Funny he even remembered my husband from various interviews he’d done, “oh yeah, you’re Ben Vendetta”. The beer list wasn’t bad as far as imports go, and the bands were all set and had their sound checks done. It was about my second lager that I noticed an hour had gone by. Now, our friends who came to the show with us, they are not used to going to gigs. They are not used to certain things that I could still put up with if I tried. “So when are the bands playing?” they asked once and a while. We watched what was obviously the opening band sitting by us. They’d tune something and then sit back down. The lights would get lowered, and they wouldn’t even move near the stage. They just sat there with their girlfriends, chain smoking and getting up to toke in the men’s room.
The funny thing I found was that Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti still allow smoking in public places. You’d think Ann Arbor would have been the first in the country to adopt the smoking-ban stance, but no. So, being that this was a music club by a college campus, we were in a room with 18-25 year olds. All of who are smoking. This wasn’t bad at first until the tiny room filled up. I tell you, our eyes were burning. I had to get up and go outside at one point because I thought I would puke. And our poor friends, they were really not used to this. So, it is about 11:15 now. We are drinking more and getting angrier, staring at this band by us and wanting them to just die. I start getting loud and mouthy about it, so does my husband. The lights dim even further – oh boy! The band gets up! And…orders a round of shots and sits back down again. The funny part was that during all of this the sound guy kept going to check the mics. As if anything had happened in the past half hour. My husband asks me if I would like to see him get a life ban from the venue. He picks up a beer bottle and wants to throw it at the back wall or the band. Part of this turns me on, but then I reason that I don’t want him having an assault charge on his record. At this point I keep joking that the keyboardist who is wearing a piano key print belt – not just a white belt – a piano key belt, is probably waiting for his great-aunt Mabel to show up. Because as we know it is fine for bands to hold up a show because they are, “waiting for more of their friends to show” etc. I’m totally joking about this, as it is a major cliché, but what do you know – the piano turd’s PARENTS finally come waltzing in to see their little boy be a rock star. So now it is 11:45. They still haven’t started. In-between the cracks and us loudly calling them all names we can only entertain ourselves by the football game on the TV. Though really, I think our guests were entertained by me getting more pissed every ten minutes and screaming, “fuck this, what the fuck is this shit, I hate everything and will burn it down!” once and a while my eyes burned like nothing I knew was possible. I’m a former smoker by the way and even this was too much damn smoke for my seasoned nose, throat and lungs. But hey! Now that the parents are here, the show can finally begin! I don’t even know what kind of watered down Dave Matthews Band crap it was, but all I noticed were the two hippie girlfriends jumping up and down in front, and the guitarist and bassist so high, that they were the only ones enjoying anything. “They set up for over 2 hours to play 15 minutes”, my husband’s buddy says. Totally. Bravo. The piano dork’s mom keeps blowing cigarette smoke into our one friend’s face.
I’ve have to hold back from throwing a beer bottle myself now, as we know the second band will take an eternity to set up. A guy sitting near us is letting his butt crack hang out topped off with a studded punk belt, and I have to hold back from throwing an empty ashtray at his head, “pull up your fucking pants!” I keep yelling but he doesn’t hear me. At one point, even though 4 of us are sitting at a table not smoking, some jackass walks up, leans over and puts his cigarette out in our ashtray. Must have happened while I was in the can, because that person would have been sorry if I was sitting there. I want another beer, and have now discovered the imports are all run out.
The second band goes on finally, and it was basically a Pink Floyd kinda instrumental thing. Wasn’t bad, just boring since we are already fading fast. At the rate the night is going, my husband estimates on past experience that Adam will not come on until 1am at the earliest; we know the second band, who seem to have a following, will probably play forever. I could have stuck it out maybe, if I had more decent beer (I’d only had two at this point which really wasn’t enough) and if there weren’t 80 people chain smoking around me. But our poor friends, they were dying, sprawled out on the table, teary eyed and only staying amused by the prospect that my husband or I will be driven to cause a scene. It was my call in the end, and I couldn’t do it anymore. I’m too old for this crap I decided and I’m the youngest of the group. I felt like I had just paid money to sit in a smokey room with warm beer and be bored to tears — literally. I suppose it is more fun if you are single and are trying to get laid, can do drugs in the bathroom, can stay up with your friends until 4am, or are just a very social alcoholic that smells weird. But it isn’t for me anymore. I woke up the next morning smelling like shit and felt like I swallowed 3 packs of smokes.
So, I’m sorry we didn’t get to see you play Mr. Franklin. I will buy the CD instead, and I hope that our beer money and cover charge went mostly to you.