It may surprise you to learn I spend little time in dive bars.
Back in my chemically augmented days, I was much more likely to drink at home, a friend’s house, or around a large open flame. Any place I could quaff rum from a plastic jug mixed with the green Hawaiian Punch without fear of being judged by even the most jaded of bartenders. It’s just easier and cheaper.
But, I have quite a few friends in bands and they get grumpy if you refuse to see them play. Since none of my friends are rocking a stadium gig, this meant bars. Loud, obnoxious bars filled with drunken hipsters. I have to admit, as much as I always assumed these places would erupt into chaotic violence or towering infernos, I came away unscathed 100% of the time.
Look, these places weren’t CGBG in the 70s. I’m sure those venues exist in Kansas City. It has a huge music scene and just about every bar has a stage, but I never saw the crazy. Just a lot of good music.
I have some vague and shadowy memories from most of my live-rock experiences, but a few nights stand out in my mind, clear and precise.
Like the night one friend convinced me to bounce around a dance floor with a group of girls I assume were there on fake IDs and I found one of my favorite bands, Brad Hoshaw & the Seven Deadlies.
A friend of mine was playing a gig at a place in KC called the Record Bar. And, no, it wasn’t my brother’s band. Yes, his former band mate was in my friend’s band, but I swear that was pure coincidence.
Or maybe not. I’m not an insider in the KC music scene, but from my outsider perspective it seems a little incestuous.
I feel bad because I can’t remember the name of my friend’s band. They change often as they reshuffle from style-to-style or trade bass players. You know, band things. I remember them being good and as much as it makes me an ass; I was surprised by it.
Again, the KC music scene is damn good. The bar is high.
If memory serves me, it was also a Thursday night. Not the night you see the best local bands rocking on stage at the bigger venues like Record Bar. So, I didn’t have high hopes for the quality of the show that night.
God damn, I was wrong.
Three bands played. All of them kicked serious melodic ass.
I was coerced into going by a group of six friends. It would have been seven, but we learned at the door it was a 21+ show and one of the people in our group was only 19.
This is why I think the girls I bounced around with that night must’ve had fake IDs. I’m convinced those girls couldn’t have been out of high school. Maybe I was just already old at 28.
There are arguments to be made.
The seven of us found a table in the middle of the bar. We had a great view of the stage but there was no chance of conversation.
So, the other thing I remember from was our entire night’s conversation was broadcast live to the world on Twitter.
Yes. Once upon a time, I was active on Twitter, but only when I was using it to communicate with people in the same room. That’s a story for another time.
I tried to scroll back on my Twitter timeline to find the exact conversation, but it is difficult to dig deep into a tweet-archive.
So. No highlights for you.
I have a reputation for being a party-pooper. If brooding were an Olympic competition, I’d qualify. I can’t explain why, but good friends, loud music, and a positive atmosphere seem to bring it out of me.
That night was all three, and I got into a good, deep melancholy.
But, I have good friends and one grabbed me and physically dragged me to the dance floor.
I’m not what you would call a “dancer.” I know both of the moves—the white-guy overbite and the cabbage-patch—so I can do all right if I have to, but I avoid any dancing beyond hands-to-hips swaying back-and-forth.
Fortunately for me, it was an indie-rock concert. So I didn’t have to bust out either of my moves. I could do what everyone else in the room was doing.
I could jump up and down in place.
And I did.
I bounced there with one friend. After a few moments of bouncing, I found myself surrounded by a group of people bouncing. They were mostly girls (and I use that term because they couldn’t have been over the age of 10).
Somehow, I was tricked into being the center of the bounce. And I couldn’t stop bouncing or I’d ruin everyone’s spring.
So, I bounced and bounced and bounced.
Then, because I’m fat and smoke, I coughed and had to go outside.
Which was fine. My friend’s band was just finishing up their last song, so I could regain my breath while the bands switched out.
I almost took off. I was wheezy and the band I came to see was done playing. Plus, it was getting late, and I had to work in the morning.
Yeah… the more I think about it, the more I realize I got old early in life.
My friends convinced me to stay for a little. And I’m glad I did.
Because the next band to play was Brad Hoshaw and the Seven Deadlies.
Suddenly, my melancholy was the mood of the room. The bouncing was gone, replaced with a feeling of enraptured awe.
This was in a time before Mumford and Sons brought the folk part of folk rock back into the mainstream. We’d never quite heard anything like it before.
I stayed through their entire set. They were awesome, and I ended up buying two of their albums from the merch table. I even tossed down the cash so a friend could get one of their albums, too.
I still listen to the self-title album. If I’m in the mood to get into a good funk. One of those times when I need to let my soul leak out through my eyes and experience release.
That is the mark of amazing music.
I am an unreliable narrator. Considering I live blogged this night back in 2010, you’d think my memory would be a little more accurate.
It’s okay. I can accept my mind-fog.
Maybe the next time I tell this story, I’ll be so confused about the past I’ll be the one playing the music.
At least I remembered the bouncing and the folksy rocking.