I don’t know why, I just wasn’t expecting so many buddies. I was immediately shuffled in and out of sweaty armpit hugs at a good old class reunion. No one was holding eye contact. With too many buddies to buddy, you kinda just briefly buddy by. I don’t like chit chat but here you are and it’s all you can do. Chit chat or space out. Drink or smoke weed. This part is so excruciating. I feel relieved when the opening band starts.
Christian Mistress is instantly familiar, it sounds right. The guitars chatter back and forth to each other, yelling and screaming. Sometimes egging each other on, sometimes nodding in agreement. The rhythm is furious. They all throw their hair back and forth to the music. At the end, they line up in a full row of head banging. I suddenly realize this is why they call them hair bands. Every single one of them rocking the music free through their gorgeous flying hair. Christian Mistress could sell hair bands or, like, silk screened scrunchies on their next tour and make a mint. Afterward all anyone remarks about is Christine’s vocals and they’re right, I barely take my eyes of Christine. Her eyes are scrunched up around every note. Her range is low and deeply beautiful. She razzes the audience a little, pushing people around, singing straight into them. I hope she won’t do it to me. I’m hiding behind my hair. One of the guitar players makes me nervous.
When Pierced Arrows began to play I wanted to feel transported, to get someplace high up where I could think. I climbed a chair next to my friend Tara. She had organized the free show as a birthday party. I finally relax, standing atop a chair in the twinkling Christmas light of the Brotherhood bar, looking around at all these amazing friends and artists that had come from all over for this night. This is an audience to dream of. They’ve come from all over the Westside, the Eastside, I see some people from Seattle, some legends from Portland, from New York City. The moment is like a memory for the expatriates and their friends. Of an old Olympia. A memory for Tara, who now lives in Portland.
Pierced Arrows gave it their all. I leaned in to ask Tara why she loves the band, and she said she just loves watching Toody play the bass guitar. That they are a rare inspiration to her on how to get old and stay punk, and that she thought they were totally underrated in the US. She said she paid them three times their rate. This blew me away. I thought that was so cool! Whenever I try to put stuff together, I try to get it done as cheap or free as possible, never do I say, let me pay you three times that amount because I think you’re a legend of your time!
We’ve gotten too used to free shows, people loading gear in and out, in and out, flyering, practicing, writing material, spending whole days and nights on the event, house venues getting irreparably trashed, it all adds up to burn-out. Conversely, touring bands face expensive food, expensive gas, and surly looks at the $5 door (incidentally, that’s a fee that has not changed since the dawn of rock show). Venues crash! The performers are doing their job, but they aren’t getting paid back. Well, there is no cash, says the audience! We’re broke! But…the bar, the smokes, the sauce, the stuff. Come on now. There is. Its dumb to pretend otherwise.
We need to be enthusiastic about using our money and our energy to create amazing shows. To support incredible records. To support local art & music magazines. To support great venues. To support what you think are talented artists. To gladly pay what they ask, and sometimes, to triple it.