Three note-worthy things occurred last night. I watched my friends Jared and Ben's band the Ultimatemost High play a show at the Velvet Underground on Queen Street, I saw the first, last and only show of the Blind Shake Canadian tour and got verbally assaulted by two young women for my beliefs. It was a fun night.
I love watching my friends perform live, love it. Watching the metamorphosis which takes place as they climb onto a stage and become the performer never ceases to fill me joy. I have experienced this transformation both directly and vicariously since I was old enough to hold an instrument and it just never gets old. There were four bands last night, Ben and Jared were opening.
|Ben of Ultimatemost High getting possessed by Iggy Pop|
I think you can look at the opening slot of a show in a couple of ways; you can be underwhelmed by the sparse crowd presence or you can look at it like a paid fucking gig and a chance to get really drunk at one of your own shows, which you can’t do if your headlining (or you can and pull an Amy Winehouse). My friends being the consummate rock-stars that they are, opted for the latter. (Their drummer was discovered chained to a drum kit in a suburban basement and could at first communicate only through drum beats. The entire drum track to his first performance with Ben and Jared was actually the phrases; I AM HUNGRY, PLEASE FEED ME, and SERIOUSLY ASSHOLE I’M STARVING OVER HERE repeating over and over.)
The third band on the stage was a punk outfit from Minneapolis (of all fucking places,) called The Blind Shake. Their Canadian tour had apparently been cancelled and they had been told that they were not allowed to remain in the country. Unsurprising though, I mean they got up on stage and in front of a full house the three of them proceeded to take what passes for punk rock these days and beat it to death right in front of everyone. Witnesses everywhere, it was a total ‘Look Ma! I’m using both hands!’ kind of moment. Their set was so fucking solid I had to give them a mention.
|The Blind Shake being so awesome they got deported|
Which brings me to third memorable event of the evening. To be fair, the whole night was surreal. Vanessa and I hadn’t been inside of the Velvet Underground in like a decade. It was like stepping back in time. I had went on a search for five bucks and was about to harass my friend Mark (it being the end of the night and me run out of cigarettes) and had stepped out of the club into the smoking mass of humanity on the sidewalk outside. Seeing Jared I stepped in to have a smoke and inquire regarding the whereabouts of everybody else. Obviously thinking that the two young ladies he was happily discoursing with would find my occupation interesting he had me declare myself a witch-doctor.
Their response was immediate and visceral. The sheer revulsion was palpable, they were collectively sickened that I would sell magic and what’s more, that I would not decide on behalf of my clients what was morally correct for them. It was an awkward position, these were friends of friends and they were appalled. I have, without a doubt articulated myself better than I did in that moment but in my own defence I was drunk and stoned and it was a two on one.
I recall being told that ‘people like me’ were ‘the reason Dick Cheney is in power’ (I mean, what the fuck?), that ‘African stuff just fucks up peoples lives’ (not Africans mind you because that would be racist, just their entire cultural legacy), that they ‘could hear the American in me’ (this is considered an insult by Canadian hipsters). One of them (upon realizing what I was) clutched her hands before her like she was praying and at one point when I was trying to explain that I was a person just like everyone else I reached out to touch her hand and she recoiled in horror and exclaimed ‘don’t touch me’, the other simply began repeating the phrase ‘the light is stronger than the darkness’ over and over. So yeah, super awkward. They did concede at the end of our conversation that I should be allowed to exist but I think they just really wanted to get as far away from me as they possibly could. It was like being a black dude in Mississippi in 1965.
Of course I had by that point already had my shit thoroughly rocked and was well on my way to complete inebriation so ultimately it managed only to make the evening entirely surreal. Which is always a plus in my books.