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All content by Nicole Willson. Copyright 2000. No stealing.


Insomniaville -- All the Stuff that Keeps Me Up At Night

2/7 -- Worst Show Ever and Other Misadventures.

Once upon a time in the early 90s I was this luscious adorable little bright-eyed thing who followed her favorite local bands all over the DC area. If they were playing in some frat house's crappy, moldy-ass basement, I was so there. Didn't matter if I had to take a long bus ride out to my mother's place in Annapolis for the night. Didn't matter if it was a worknight. Didn't matter if they weren't going on until 1 am. Didn't matter if we all had to ride a skanky-ass bus up to CBGB's in New York and come back to Maryland that same night. And if it was really crowded, rock on -- more exposure for the guys.

I know I've got pictures of this darling party girl squirreled away somewhere. And that's good because otherwise I'd never believe she actually existed, much less that she used to be me. Sometimes I reminisce about my band-chasing days and think about how boring I've gotten. My co-worker and cubicle neighbor is the same age I was back then, and she's a lot like me -- forever making long drives to New York City or North Carolina or Toronto to see her bands of choice. She makes me remember my carefree youth. She makes me feel so goddamn old. I know 32 isn't all that old, for god's sake, but it's hard to remember when you've got this luminous 21-year-old rose blossoming next to you every day.

And then I go out to actually see a band. And I realize that back in the early 90s, I must have been on crack. Or just insane. Or something.

Last Thursday, Bill and I went to see Frank Black at IOTA. As I've mentioned before, I like seeing shows at IOTA. The atmosphere is low-key. The place fills up, but you can usually grab a chair or a barstool. So the show sounded perfect to me.

I posted a general message on Crunchland inviting anyone who felt like it to stop by for a happy hour-ish beer beforehand. I actually believed that if I went to IOTA straight from work and got there around six, I'd be able to grab a table or a booth and just hang out with anyone who stopped by until IOTA staff started going around and collecting the cover charge.

Hoo hah. I guess I'm judging all musical acts these days by the Mark Eitzel Standard. Put simply, Mark Eitzel is God. If Mark Eitzel draws a respectable but by no means massive audience at IOTA, then certainly none of those lesser mortals should draw a bigger crowd. Right?

Yea. Good one. I got there at six sharp. And there were no seats. Not that there'd been many seats to be had in the first place, as the club had thoughtfully removed most of them. But every booth, every chair, every barstool was taken.

Bill and I sought refuge in IOTA's restaurant, where Crunchlanders Auguste, Viceroy Fyzlbot and Jo caught up with us. We actually had a great time at dinner, but I grew more and more apprehensive as I saw the crowds swarming into the club. Jo chose to leave early. Smart lady.

The music got off to a really horrendous start with the worst opening act ever. I think the guy must have been making up his songs based on random comments he heard from the audience. Seriously. "Gimme a drink/I said gimme a goddamn drink/I said gimme a goddamnfugging drink." Accompanied by the only three chords he knew. For hours. I'm not making this up. When he continued to grind on with this crap well past 10:30, various audience members screamed obscenities and other abuse at him. That only inspired him to paste on a shit-eating grin and stretch out his songs that much longer.

(Make no mistake -- if that had been me up on stage with people screaming shit at me, I'd have done the very same thing. Under different circumstances, I might have felt sorry for the guy. Shitty performers need love too, and he's somebody's son, and maybe he's a good person. But when you're out in the audience trying to avoid being trampled or suffocated and this guy's deliberately holding up the act you actually came to see and you're a grumpy thirtysomething office drone who's already up way past her bedtime on a school night, you really start to pray that the ceiling will collapse on the evil fucker and put everyone out of their misery.)

And then finally, at long last, Dorkboy stopped and Frank Black came on -- and sounded almost as bad. He did a version of "Nimrod's Son" that sounded like a 45 single slowed down to 33. He'd canceled a Baltimore show earlier that week because he had a cold, and he sounded to me like he'd been shooting up NyQuil. And not the perky orange daytime NyQuil, either -- he was on the hardass coma-inducing green stuff. And even if he'd been on his game and delivered an excellent set as he did in Baltimore a couple of years ago, I was so angry and nervous and neurotic from the unbelievable crowd that I doubt I would have appreciated it anyhow.

Even though people were packed buttcheeks to hipbones in the small club, the staff kept blithely letting more people in. I got bumped and stepped on and pushed and view-obstructed by latecomers who crammed in wherever they could. I turned quickly into a seething ball of venom and hostility and general ill will. I made nasty comments to Bill about how Frank Black bore an uncanny resemblance to Gnaghi in "Cemetery Man," except Gnaghi was probably cuter. (An impression I confirmed when "Cemetery Man" turned up on TNT the very next night.)

We left after six songs. Another sign I'm getting old. A few years ago I wouldn't have wasted $15 that easily. We caught up with Auguste and Fyzlbot on the sidewalk outside and spent the next 20 minutes ranting and fuming about how fucking pissed we were and about the colossal skyscraper of suck that was that show. I think the four of us could have levitated a battleship with our collective anger.

What's the deal? I don't remember anything like this happening back in my band-chaser days. Did I just have a higher bullshit tolerance? Did I like people more? What?

Hee hee hee *snerk*: (If you read my blog, you already know this.) Last night I was checking through my site logs and found that someone had stolen a little Insomniaville bandwidth (they linked to an image on my site instead of copying it to their own space -- considered bad form because it can run up the bandwidth costs on the hosting server). Not really a huge deal. But I was feeling ornery last night, so I swapped out the original image with a new one.

You can see the results here. The new and improved graphic appears halfway down the page. I have absolutely no frigging clue what the thread in the above link is about, or what it was supposed to be about before it degenerated into a flamewar. Looks pretty lame, all told.

(And the original graphic was just a shot of Courage the Cowardly Dog that I'd posted on my message board. And I didn't ask permission to use it, so I'm hardly the Great Netiquette Goddess myself. But this little incident forced me to replace the swiped graphic with one of my own. So all things happen for a reason and in a way, it all worked out in the end. Go forth and sin no more.)

The next entry.

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February 2000