Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Whither goest thou, America, in thy shiny car in the night?

It was Friday night and Lee-Roy wanted to go into town for a quiet beer. No big deal, but I told him I'd meet up with him later. Instead, I'd been annexed by the Germans, who were also heading into town. I went to their 'party' at 9, with the intention of getting out of there just after 10. Instead, the room filled with more and more of Deutscheland's finest exports and before I knew it I was conversing in brilliant bouts of broken English.

As expected, we missed the first bus. It happens. But missing the second one -despite making a more concerted effort- really hurt. Literally. I think it is fair to say that winter has set in, even if it is the early days of November. By the time we had walked to the bars I felt like my cheeks were about to shatter. Every breath I took released a large puff of smoke and my eyes were starting to water from the light breeze that was partnered with an Arctic chill.

Lee-Roy and his crew of one were already inside and equipped with a pitcher. His associate, very drunk, told me he knew me and that we'd met the other week at Sylvan. I had no idea who he was, but was glad to let him refill my plastic beer cup.

We joined some more international students at a table and stuck around for the remaining 90 minutes of the bar's opening time. It's odd, in a college town, like most places, it is more expected that you go to the bars late. However, here the bars shut at 1AM, not exactly leaving much of an opportunity to utilise them.  Regardless, when Lee-Roy's friend took off his beanie I immediately recognised him. Trust Lee-Roy, the gentleman among the exchange students, to befriend the guy who had not exactly endeared himself to everyone. This time, things had changed. His trips to the bar gifted two pitchers at a time. Not long after this I saw a look on his face like he was about to explode. I took a few steps back, hid behind some of the girls at the table and waited for the inevitable vomit. Unlike the pictures of Bud, it didn't flow. No matter, the ugly lights came on before he had the chance.
I have to wear this hat all the time, otherwise I look like Freddie Mercury

We were all heading back to the German headquarters via the bus when Lee-Roy's friend, now drunk out of his mind, appeared to be beatboxing. When it came time for our stop everyone got off...except him. There was some phone complication so no one could contact this drunk, lost, semi-vomiting beatboxer. I can only assume he sorted himself out.

Back at the German's hood, we all piled into two suites. For the next four hours or so time flew by at rapid pace. Warm German beer was passed around, strange dance music played and a group of people were hosting a corroboree around a 40" television playing FIFA. The coolest thing I know how to do is solve a Rubik's Cube, so I did a few times. After showing off, we were all given our marching orders, at 5AM. So much for that quiet beer.
toilet art

I found it hard to contain my Matt & Kim excitement the next day. I had (thankfully) bought my ticket weeks in advance, and no amount of tiredness or beer-headache would have stopped me from enjoying the night. Matt, Olivia, Sam and I all headed on the packed bus to Northampton. We weren't the only ones going to Matt & Kim, and if we'd realised how popular the show was going to be, we probably wouldn't have made a detour via Urban Outfitters on the way to the show.

What we discovered outside the venue was a line that snaked around the corner, even with most of the people who already had tickets bypassing the line to make their way indoors. No one else in my group had tickets, but I decided to stay with them. Sophia, a girl who I only seem to see when I'm at my worst was also going to the show with her housemates. We snuck them into the line, and for the next hour or so edged our way towards entry.

The delay in the line meant we missed most of the opening acts, but go there just in time to shuffle towards the front. Being an older man now, I rarely get too involved in concerts. Sweaty, jumpy and smelly people isn't exactly my cup of tea and the last time I really got involved at a concert was Against Me!'s show in Paris, 2007. For this show I didn't care. It was Matt & Kim, the smiliest dancepunk duo in show business. It would have been harder to stand still at the back than it would to join the throes of the crowd at the front.
Stealing teabags is my cup of tea

Hip Hop songs that everyone in the crowd but me played out over the P.A. Every time a roadie came out to adjust a mic stand the crowd went wild. Saying the room was pumped is a giant understatement. When Matt & Kim did eventually make their way to the stage their grins were characteristically beaming.

The sound they produce out of two synth and a drum-kit is amazing. The whole room was bouncing to their playing as they moved about their tiny stage set-up, jumping up and down from the little riser between their two instruments. It was winter outside, but it felt like an Australian summer indoors.

The two shared anecdotes with the crowd all night. Matt had grown up around the area and seemed chuffed to have filled the place out. The pair also noted that they had never seen the roof of any venue sweat. The heat, and sweat from everyone in the crowd had gotten to such a level that the roof become sopping with condensation. You could literally see the drops falling, just dodging Matt and his synths.

When the crowd surfers weren't falling or hitting people in the back of the head, Kim managed to walk out onto the crowd and do her "booty dance". I don't know how it worked, but any allusion to walking on water is fairly justified. At another stage deflated balloons were thrown to the crowd to inflate and throw around during a song. It was such a simple, yet beautiful thing. They didn't play many songs from their album released a few days before the show, but it was still an amazing experience. For two Brooklyn hipsters to command a room like that is something special.

Everyone piled into the car (illegally) of Sophia's house-mate. Through some back streets we made it back to Amherst, and Sam, Olivia, Matt and I ran into Lee-Roy on the way for some late night pita. With not much else to do, Sam and I grabbed our skateboards and went for a 1AM ride. Our stunts were lame, and we were fairly lethargic about the whole process, but it didn't stop the Fuzz from coming by and moving us on. We are clearly amateurs, and when they drove by we were just standing around talking, but for some reason we had to jog on. If I wasn't in such a great mood from the show I would have asked them where they were last weekend when Sam was getting punched. Oh well.

1AM came by again as the clocks went back. It was time to call the night as I had a tonne of work to do the next day. I managed to write my 10 page assessment for the local Congressman's class and it was remarkable to see how jovial he was given his victory last week. It turned out that he had effectively obliterated his opponent, defying the national trend against the Democrats.

Hours after the class I finally had to attend my first session for violating the university's alcohol program. I was joined by four other girls, so I'm going to suggest to people to get in on the program. The first day was spent completing a computer survey. I found it very hard to give serious answers given the way I was enrolled in the course. Worse though was the irrelevant questioning about my race (human if anyone asks) and the questioning about my family. I rushed through and left feeling completely unsatisfied. I have to fork out over $100 for this, and spending 20 minutes completing a computer survey feels like blatant robbery.

However, this wasn't the only annoying thing of the day. Again I had to stay up working on homework. I managed to get most of the work done, but the next morning I completely slept through my first class. Until then I had not missed one since arriving, but exhaustion had got the better of me.

*** Song
Sugar - If I Can't Change Your Mind
Bob Mould was playing in Noho tonight. I would have loved to go, but things conspired against it. Heartbreaking shame. Enjoy the video and see what I'm missing out on.

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