24 January 2013

Rock And Roll Weekend #1

Robin and I have created a pseudo-tradition over the last several months. Lazy Sundays. Now, this may be quite common for office drones and others that actually work Monday through Friday, but it's a different set of circumstances for the two of us.

My weekend is in the middle of the week. Robin goes to school four days a week. So, by the end of my days off, most everybody else I hang around with is just beginning their weekend. This sets the stage for debauchery, sleep-deprivation and time spent with loved ones. I'm out late on Fridays and Saturday nights, punching the clock at 6am the respective morning afters.

By the time I'm off work on Sunday, I'm running on fumes. Mathematically speaking, I the hours I work are about two or three times more than the amount of sleep I get. Having to work early doesn't ever prevent me from seeing the people I care about, but I am always looking forward to the Sundays spent holed up with Robin, mending my wounds from the alcohol and workdays.

This past summer, we attended our first SMMR BMMR festival at Plan B here in Portland. It was a two-day party full of bands, friends, food and alcohol. There was a huge line-up, some locals and some out-of-towners. Both nights we were guaranteed to see at least a couple of bands that we really enjoyed but had never had the opportunity to see live.

That Friday, while I was at work, Robin met up with some other friends and began day-drinking. After a quick change of clothes, I barreled down the highway, excited to see everyone. When I showed up, I was greeted by glazed eyes, slurred words and wobbly legs. Mike and Robin were completely shitfaced. I found it pretty humorous and made an effort to at least catch up halfway. We wiled away hours with cigarettes and beer, shit-talking and music by generic bands.

The first band of the night we were really looking forward to was Portland's own Guantanamo Baywatch. On vinyl, they're a bit too muddled and lo-fi for my liking, but I was told that they were incredible in a live setting. Upon the first few surf-chords, the crowd became enraptured in the dark and somber, yet somehow sunny and bright, music of the band. The whole lot of us danced our asses off to the rhythm of the jangly surf/doo-wop blaring out of the soundsystem. Beer was spilled, empty cans flew like missiles and sweat hung in the air. After the performance, I felt invigorate. The night stretched out further into the future.

After Gitmo's performance, Big Eyes was due next. I had been excited to see them play ever since my first listen of 'Hard Life'. I love their punk-meets-big-riff sound and I am always stoked on bands that are fronted by females who can give several guys a run for their money. It takes guts to front a band, and punk is stigmatized as being a boys' club. Big Eyes goes to show how incorrect that assumption is.

A few songs in, it was blatantly obvious they had stolen the show from every other band that played that night. People were dancing and fist-pumping, raising their drinks as a sign of solidarity. Songs like "Back From The Moon" were fleshed out with the aid of stringed-lights surrounding the outdoor stage. Night had fallen and the instruments had taken on an ominous yet triumphant sound. They were playing this show like it was their last. The crowd knew it wasn't, though, which fueled smiles from deep within the souls of the fans.

By the end of the evening, our excesses had caught up with us. The beer that had an energizing effect on me earlier quickly began having the opposite effect. I was destined for about four hours of sleep that night. We said our goodbyes and left, happy in the fact we would be up to the same antics the following night.

Fast forward to Saturday night. After a bleary-eyed day at work, I was back in action with Robin and my other friends. I had already steeled myself for another night winding far into the evening. Although the sets from the night before were still fresh in my brain, I was far more excited for the night's headlining performance: Kepi Ghoulie with Mean Jeans PLAYING AS THE GROOVIE GHOULIES.

Groovie Ghoulies has been a favorite band of mine for quite a while. But, alas, they had broken up before I even got into them. I never dreamed of the day when I would get to see a full Ghoulies set, yet here we were. In contrast to Friday night, the band played inside. Kepi was bursting at the seams with energy and any trained eye could tell how honored the Jeans were to be playing with a pop-punk legend.

Everyone packed into the bar was there for the same reason. We all recognized the gravity of the performance. Fans older than myself transformed into the wide-eyed teenagers they had been upon first hearing the Ghoulies. The show had the innocence of an all-ages show. There was no bad blood to be found anywhere in the crowd that night. Dancers in the moshpit slipped and slided on spilled beer. I was singing so loudly and smiling so hard my face hurt. They played all my favorite songs with just the right amount of humorous banter.

Four hours of sleep later, I was back at work and punching the clock. Happy as I was from the past couple of nights, I yearned for a lazy afternoon segueing into a quiet night free of obligations. Sunday night, however, was the pinnacle of our first rock and roll weekend. Dear Landlord was playing one of our favorite venues and it would be the first time for every single one of us. There was another perk, too. I had Monday off (as per my request) so as to have the freedom to stay out even later, drink even more and not be a wreck in the morning. Our lazy Sunday would have to wait for just one more day.

Dear Landlord played to a small yet dedicated crowd. We all knew all the words, we screamed at the top of our lungs. The amount of alcohol coursing through my body lifted my heart towards the sky. I was with my favorite friends, shoulder to shoulder with Robin and all the time in the world. I wanted the band to play for ever. I wished my friends back in the Midwest had been there with me.

I can vaguely remember talking to the Landlord dudes after the show, drunkenly slurring my speech and trying to tell them how thankful I was. After practically demanding a hug from one of the band members, the night came to a quiet close. I was safely driven home by a sober friend and the echoes of "Landlocked" and "High Fives" were like a drunken lullaby for my haggard body and brain.

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