I guess it is a testament to the energies of Emo's booking agent, or the fact that shows at Emo's are often or always all-ages and bands will book there for the opportunity of a bigger audinece, but it seems I am reluctantly ending up at Emo's to see my favorite bands these days and I'm tired of it.
Like at this past week's Blond Redhead show. I'm fairly sure Emo's oversold tickets to the show by the sheer number of slick emo kids filling every crevice of the place, the crowd spilling over to the dirt courtyard by the bathrooms and the strip of useless concrete by the bleachers. Ever sat on that bleacher? Puts you at forehead level with the stage ceiling. And if you don't mind the heat of the squeeze, if you dare be in front of the stage on a warm Texas night, you'll have to contend with the lowest ceiling in town for that proper music hall anxiety and pre-heat stroke numbness . Try not to step on too many rolling or broken beer bottles at your feet and try not to let that drunk teeny bopper in front of you burn you in the neck with her cigarette.
Blonde Redhead was great, fun to watch Pace and Makino do their sultry guitar dance with each other at some point during nearly every song. They used a lot of pre-recorded sound in their set which normally might bother purists but it worked for me, songs coming off like their their recordings and better, a lot of sound bursting forth at the end of spaces of soft, sustaining bass notes and drum driven guitar drones. And their voices are sweet like sugar, they are definitely one of the sexiest bands out there...
And I can't comment about the music too much more because I was too bothered at the show with cool kids acrobatically wheeling past me every second. No matter how great the musical moment is at Emo's, there is always someone trying to get closer to or away from the stage. Always some dude dragging his gilfriend through the maze of number one fans to implant themselves with people they know by one of the speakers, yelling at each other like at a frat party, too concerned with their schwag joint to pay attention to the band or to let anyone else around them at least try to lose themselves in the music they paid to see.
And it did occur to me that maybe there were 18 year olds at the show that were having their minds blown. I vaguely recall those feelings 10 and 15 years ago when I was going to my first emo-punk shows where the wall of sound washed over me like baptismal fire, drugs or no drugs. And now older, and especially living in Austin, I feel detached at these shows, unable to connect with the same music I can still connect with in my car or at home. I can often take it or leave it, whether I make it to the show, whether I see the whole thing, or just fuck off down the street for a bratwurst and fresh air.
But yeah, I keep buying the tickets. Fistfulls of em for me and Karly and our friends. (well, at least for me and Karly). It could be an age thing, the obvious answer, but I see a lot of my age, dudes and girls like me still hanging on to the ideal, that getting to the show and seeing it happen in front of you is always better than listening to a cd in your own space. At least you do it because you think you should, you put up with the crowds, the kids, the big headed dudes that practically plant themselves in your front pockets, and the troll people always squeezing past you making you shuffle your feet like in a soviet bread line, taking your eyes of the band, and spilling your beer. I look at my people and they look at me and the looks say "what the hell are we still doing here?" and on more than a few occaisions the look on the faces of the bands and their demeanor before, during, and after they play say the same thing.
Sometimes, like at the the Blonde Redhead show, you can see through the transluscent skin of the beast of youth and pop culture. You can see industry and numbers at work. And yet you can still sense the magic, the art, the proposal to dream.