As always, the first challenge was to piece together the events of the previous evening. There were the usual questions: How much of what did I drink? To whom did I confess which embarrassing secrets? Etc. As is typical, my memory of the night's beginnings was moderately clear. It all started with a simple realization ... [CUE DREAMY MUSIC. DISSOLVE TO:]
Modest Mouse? Hell no!
The original plan for Wednesday night was to hit up the sold-out Modest Mouse show at the Fillmore. For much of the day, I was excited. I've always considered myself a fan of the Mouse; when I go into Guitar Center and ask to try out the expensive axes, I start off by playing the first few bars of "Dramamine," from the band's debut, still one of my favorite indie rock tunes of all time. But about four songs into the group's new CD, Good News for People Who Love Bad News (which I obtained and listened to mere hours before the show), the sad truth stared me down: Modest Mouse has only two songs -- "Dramamine" and every other song. Sure, there are some good tracks on The Lonesome Crowded West, and "3rd Planet," on The Moon & Antarctica, is a fine, fine tune. But (correct me if I'm wrong here) doesn't almost every song contort and jangle around Isaac Brock's cracking-yelp shtick? Sure, the guy's a good lyricist, and that shtick is compelling, but after 10 years and seven records, his distorto-jangle jams are all blurring together.
"So forget Modest Mouse," I said to myself. "Let's go local." After all, it was a Wednesday, and for the past few months the Elbo Room has been hosting cheapo midweek rock shows, and this particular night's all-Bay Area bill wasn't advertising disappointment: the goth-bop of the Boy Explodes, some band I became an instant fan of thanks to its name -- Mr. & Mr. & Mr. & Mr. & Mr. Evil -- the disco death-rock of Condor, and the smarmy/sexy punk of Veronica Lipgloss & the Evil Eyes. This was going to be good, the perfect antidote to my disenchantment over the Mouse's new release. But first, a drink.
"Commiseration" is the word of the year, if you ask me. The FCC is bringing down the censorship hammer, Iraq is the swamp the United States bought an $87 billion mansion on, money's tight, jobs are scarce, and in spite of it all John Kerry seems totally unelectable. To make matters worse, I've developed an addiction to MTV's Pimp My Ride. These were but a few of the subjects discussed with a co-commiserator over a dozen beers, countless cigarettes (I don't even smoke -- anymore), and four shots of Wild Turkey at the Dovre Club's Wednesday happy hour. Things were beginning to get fuzzy.
9:30 p.m. -- There were about 30 of us upstairs at the Elbo Room. The Boy Explodes was halfway through its set. Singer/guitarist Shane Frink looked like he was wearing eye makeup, or maybe that was just my mind playing tricks on me. The band's music was dark and morose, full of heavy, throbbing bass, loud, careening drums, and Frink's ghastly yelling/singing. People have said it before about the Boy Explodes, but it was impossible not to think it again: Joy Division. Strong influence. Skinny Puppy, too. And while its music isn't exactly what I'd call good, if the band's goal that night was willful abrasiveness, it accomplished that goal nicely. And speaking of getting hit over the head with something, it was time to visit the bar again.
10:30 p.m. -- Mr. & Mr. & Mr. & Mr. & Mr. Evil was about to go on. Reviewing my notes, it seems I was informed by Wendy Farina, drummer for Condor, that M-5 Evil is the new band of a well-established local figure. That figure's name is "%sg$0(@," or at least that's what I wrote down. And the music? Well, I'm not sure if it was the booze or what, but I could have sworn the five band members were aping Limp Bizkit -- right up to frontman %sg$0(@'s obnoxious rap-rock vocals -- and wearing black hooded cloaks. Was it a joke? It seemed like a joke. But maybe it wasn't. Maybe this band was just bad. It was all very confusing, more so because somewhere along the way someone got me stoned. After M-5 Evil finished, the DJ threw on a mash-up of Skee-Lo's "I Wish" and the Breeders' "Cannonball." Once again, I felt like I was imagining things.
By the time Condor went on, I was useless. What I can tell you about the group's set is: a) It, uh, rocked; and b) Some guy with an oddly gargantuan pompadour wearing an all-white, sleeveless vinyl shirt was dancing his ass off. (Or was I hallucinating again?) That's all I can recall. I did, however, take notes. This is what they look like:
Toward midnight, as Veronica Lipgloss was going on, my girlfriend and I were shoving grilled chicken burritos with extra sour cream down our pie holes. The last thing I remember about the night was sitting six inches away from the television watching The Charlie Rose Show. Wynton Marsalis was the guest. With my nose so close to the screen, like that girl in the Poltergeist movies, I fawned over Marsalis' sincere appraisal of jazz music, promising myself that I'd buy all his albums as soon as possible. Wynton Marsalis.
Such was the sequence of events I was able to string together that following morning. Later in the day, viciously hungover and unable to perform the most rudimentary of tasks, I resorted to putting on that new Modest Mouse record one more time. And you know something? I kind of like it. Sure, Brock's as whiny as ever and those same high-hat-driven beats are in nearly every song, but I'll be damned if another band can pull off backwoods indie slop like these guys. Makes me wonder what that MM show would have been like after all.