Monday, May 19, 2008

Catfight on the Jersey shore

Hello good readers! What have you been up to lately? Myself, I've gone to a couple of gigs recently, the most notable of which being Against Me! at the Forum. While it was an enjoyable gig, it was certainly an unbelievable one in that the crowd that the latest album, New Wave, attracted was a little odd, to say the least. But, New Wave is a different line for such a band, and bogan rock will indeed attract bogans (and bevans too. Lets bring that word back!). Boys in footy jumpers, girls tarted up in heels... it just felt very wrong, and I couldn't help but feel just a little bit dirty at the whole ordeal. But anyway, that's not really what I wanted to write about today.

Once upon a time, I visited a quite little seaside town called Asbury Park. For the most part, it looked barren and abandoned. As we approached in the car, a large number of people congregated around this otherwise desolate looking waterfront building. It was chilly day, and lots of young kids (those are the ones who are far older than, say, toddlers. You know, 16-18 years old sort of range) stood hunkered against the building, with the remarkably cold and wintry sea breeze visibly whipping at their punk-logo'd shirts and mohawky hair. The collective effort of the wind and the venue security guaranteed to have them frozen to the bone and well seasoned with salt by the time they'd be let through to the warmth inside.

The admission price to get into this building was some insane amount from memory, like $80 or something (that figure could well be in US dollars, or aAUD transliteration at the time. Bear with me, it was awhile ago), and as a result, all the cold looking kids standing around the front were the type who were still in high school and successfully funding their teen angst and rebellion with mum & dads bank accounts. The rest of us older types justsnuck in around the back, ticket money safely spent on the many two litre bottles of wine smuggled in a nappy change bag.

This event of course, was the great Skate & Surf Festival of New Jersey.

Only one band was playing that day that I particularly cared to see, and after a few forays into the larger staged areas to watch a variety of local bands strutting their stuff, I decided it was high time for a drink. I headed back to the band-table-come-secret-headquarters, and poured myself and surrounding compatriots a sly one beneath the table. We regaled ourselves with stories, and whiled away the hours going here and there, to and fro, and some may even say back and forth. Mr K occupied himself with the task of making a fake wristband, the kind that would indicate that he was a paying customer. He cut a length of paper from a notebook, and found himself a red marker, and went about crudely marking the paper with vaguely appropriate symbols, then stapled the paper ends together around his wrist. Naturally, I mocked his attempts, pointing out he'd stand out far more than if he was wearing no 'wristband' at all. Turns out I was wrong.

Embarrassingly few minutes later, whilst attempting to re-enter the venue from a fenced off smoking area, clearly set up to be deemed as 'inside' the venue, a gentleman from security asked to see our wristbands. Mr K flashed his homemade portion of notebook at the clearly visually challenged man, and strode through. Myself, I went with the 'I think I shall ignore this foolish man' approach, which ended with a marginally ridiculous chase through a crowd of kids who had a whole lot moremohawk , and a lot less fedora than I. The thug caught be by the arm, giving me a rather good clip in the process, and attempted to escort me to a nearby security office whilst I abused him in a drunken Australian drawl. He clearly had little idea what I was attempting to communicate to him (other than indignant anger of course), and seemingly very little interest, either. Mr K darted past me, and no sooner was I about to startfocusing my abuse at his traitorous self did he return, complete with Jack Terricloth in tow. Jack appeared equally confused at the torrent of non-sensical abuse flowing from my lips, and wasted no further time on the matter, yanking me from the grip of the large and bald security thug. The thug gave chase for awhile, while Jack detailed to the man, now foaming at the mouth, of my involvement with the band, and how utterly appalled he was at the treatment of the very band members making the event which employed his good self possible. In mynewfound position as band member, I happily sneered at the angry man. We cut through the crowd and ran up a set of stairs, the thug scratched his head and looked a little perplexed, none the wiser as towhether this band was fictitious, let alone even playing this weekend.

Upstairs, I was led to a room. In this room were a number of people, an amazing amount of wine, a shower, and a lot of yelling. Soon, there were someeaster ornaments undergoing surgery with a pocketknife for the purposes of inserting larger style vanity mirror bulbs up their dates. Then there was an upturned table, wine everywhere, and a confiscated lighter. Jack, who seemed quite adept at vanishing from rooms and appearing with additional guests now appeared in the doorway, this time with Against Me! in tow. When presented with the sight of several er...modified rabbits, brokenlight bulbs, smashed bottles of wine, walls scrawled with indecipherable graffiti , and many people dancing/jumping/grinning inanely, they cautiously wandered in, stepping around the broken things, bearing a similar look of surprise as the previously mentioned security thug.

Time wound on, and as the band in questions' set was pushed further and further back, the green room gradually became more and more destroyed. But alas, the hour did indeed come when the band were due to play, and there on the sidelines and in the crowd, did the inhabitants of the green room congregate. The crowd was surprisingly large, and also surprisingly appreciative of the band whom they had not yet heard. So appreciative in fact, that when the next band on the playing list invaded the stage a mere two songs into the set, the crowd urged the band to play on. And that, they did. The amps were unplugged, and still Jack sang. The microphone was unplugged, and still Jack shouted. The microphone was thrown to the air, the stand laying violently dismantled in pieces on the stage. The guitarist played on, fending people off his amp with his fists, and soon the scuffles broke out in earnest. Rat ran interference, Against Me! jumped in, all guns blazing, band members from a number of seemingly uninvolved groups punching on and running away.

Melee on the stage, one faithful in the crowd tore over the barrier to assist. The crowd had been whipped into a minor frenzy by this point, doing their best to yell, scream, throw and dismantle the stage scaffolding & security barriers as best they could. Security flew wildly, grabbing the boy in a headlock and rather impolitely dragging him away, choking. I flailed at the bouncer, but to no avail. I shouted at him, as the boy started to turn crimson, but also to no avail. As a last option, I scrabbled over the people in the front to a prime location, and mustered all my effort into spitting at the bouncer. It succeeded in gaining his attention... the boy was let loose, he thanked me and ran on his way. I too ran, and frantically joined the crew in getting as much equipment off the stage and into the band-van as quickly as possible, while various band members hid. Themerch table was gathered and loaded into the van, the remaining hidden members reappeared and made a dash for it, and some foolish bouncer got his mitts on me long enough to hear exactly what an angry drunk Australian can really throw at one verbally. I was let go, he was told to fuck off, and Rat swept me out of there before any furtherstouches had the chance to break out. Hastily, we retreated to the car, and watched as the bands' van peeled out of the parking lot under a hail of bottles, mainly being tossed by the ever professional security staff. We left just in time to see an ambulance pull up, and drove back to NYC to the bands' local pub to celebrate. That was the last night I spent in NYC.

The moral of the story, and there is(n't) one, is while you can still count on a World/Inferno Friendship Society gig to turn into a tale that can stand the test of time, don't even bother with Against Me! anymore. They may still throw saving punches, but chances are one of their new stream ofbogan fans wouldn't piss on you if you were on fire. You will receive nothing more than black eyes and bad memories.


Fandango Jones said...

Or, in your case, a black foot and bad memories.

There ain't no parties like W/IFS parties... Heeeey, Hooooh.

ss said...

Yeah. With W/IFS, the mayhem is bottomless (shuffle shuffle shuffle)

But considering of the three gigs of theirs that I saw, only one of them *didn't* result in a riot, and another one culminated in the total destruction of the venue's roof, walls, stage, lighting and electrical wiring, i'm finding this story very believable. Yay for rat getting an opportunity to put his l33t martial arts skills to good use!

Rat said...

Ahhh the memories.

As SS said, things haven't changed much.

As for the confiscated lighters, that was for K's sake... I don't know how flamable silk ties are, but shit, you were determined to find out!

Rat said...

Oh, and in regard to AM!, the guys are still the same (albiet richer), the music is still good, but the fans, you nailed it...

Kit E said...

good times, good times...

And to give an idea of how old we're getting: I was pregnant w/ Andi at the time; she's turning five next week.
So there's your excuse for the few small dicrepencies in your version of that event. ;)

It's a pretty different crowd these days, lots of dumb kids that wreck shit for no good reason, but then those good causes don't come along that often.