30 January, 2009

A night of ice, music and strangeness

Few concerts experiences can compare to what Kevin and I endured during the Vampire Weekend show in December. The concert was great of course, but the people sitting directly in front of us made for quite an experience. With that in mind, I have another tale of odd behavior at a concert.

On Wednesday, Ra Ra Riot played a free show at Northeastern's AfterHours nightclub. Note: AfterHours is not a nightclub. It is a Starbucks with a stage in the student center. Ra Ra Riot is one of my favorite bands and has been since early 2007. I can't remember who or where I heard of them from but I downloaded both of their EPs and fell in love. I saw them live for the first time that summer when they opened for Tokyo Police Club at Emo's in Austin and they put on a great show.

McKenna is also a fan of the band and so I planned on going to the show with her and two of her friends. Patrick also decided to tag along. The evening started off with my icy trek to McKenna's dorm. Snow in the morning had turned into rain in the afternoon and evening. As the sidewalks all have piles of snow lining the edges, there was no place for the water to go. The sidewalks along Huntington Avenue were almost completely flooded. I don't own boots so I carefully hopped from pieces of solid ice to snow bank in a futile attempt to avoid soaking my tennis shoes in icy water. My feet were essentially solid blocks of ice by the time I got to the dorm. McKenna, Patrick and I drank a little at her place with her two friends before heading over to AfterHours to wait in line for the doors to open at 8:30. All of us were convinced that we would have to get there early in order to even get into AfterHours. We had planned on arriving at 7:30 but it took McKenna a while longer to finish her 40oz beer and the icy sidewalks slowed our progress. I think we got there around 8 to discover that the kind AfterHours staff decided to have the line form inside, rather than out in the rain. Not only that, the rain seemed to have discouraged most people from coming and even though we were only half an hour early, we were very near the front of the line.

The doors opened and after grabbing a free poster we positioned ourselves right in front of the stage. The opening act was DJ Death Star, consisting of two NU students with laptops remixing popular songs. Think Girl Talk, only really crappy. After more than half an hour the AfterHours staff signaled to them to get the hell off the stage. One of the guys took out a box with shirts and began tossing them into the crowd. The shirts were from the Northeastern radio station, WRBB, and had a lame logo on them but a free shirt is a free shirt. Since we were front and center I was able to grab one, as did Patrick and McKenna. The girl right behind me quickly voiced her frustration that she had missed out on a shirt by shouting, "that bastard stole mine!"

I'm not going to pretend that I did the chivalrous act of turning around and handing her the shirt. No, I was taller and in front of her and had grabbed a shirt thrown in my direction. Fair was fair, and besides, I'm consistently thwarted at my attempts to get a free shirt at the hockey games by Ice Girl. Patrick, McKenna and I turned towards one another and compared shirt sizes. McKenna had somehow snagged a small and Patrick and I were thrilled to have gotten mediums, rather than the EXTRA LARGE shirts the three of us had been given when we bought our Beanpot tickets.

The second opener soon came on, a local band called With Engines. As far as I know they aren't affiliated with Northeastern and they were much better than DJ Bad Name. I was enjoying the show for the most part and was trying to ignore the girl behind me who repeatedly referred to me as "that bastard!" Her insults didn't stop and finally I was annoyed enough to confront her and her friends. Giving up the shirt seemed a better option than enduring the constant stream of names that were being thrown my way. Dorothy (yes, of Oz fame) and her friends became quite amicable after being given the shirt they didn't deserve and started chatting with us. I learned that they went to BC and that one of them was the sister of a guy from DJ Death Star. I'm not sure if he was Death or Star (Patrick's joke, not mine) but I noticed he was standing right next to the girls so I did the nice thing and leaned over and lied that I liked his performance. "Oh thanks man, thanks a lot," he said. "Dumbass," I thought to myself. Adding noise to songs other people have already produced is not music, it's annoying.

Finally it was time for Ra Ra Riot. Part of what I really love about their music is the string element. They have a cellist and a violinist and they both rock out on stage. Since I had last seen them perform they had upgraded to electric instruments which are pretty cool looking. The whole band gets really into the music and it was a great show. When it ended people began quickly filing out but I stood there in front of the stage with my friends talking for a few minutes. As I turned around to go and find my jacket the guy I had briefly met from DJ Death Star comes up to me, slaps my chest and shouts, "WRBB is the best radio station in Boston!" With this done, he promptly turned and marched away leaving Patrick and I standing there speechless.

I had just been slapped, sort of, and had a random pronouncement of WRBB's greatness shouted in my face. I wasn't sure what to think. It's true that I hadn't been exactly generous in my statements to my friends about his band. I might have said things like, "they suck," "these guys are terrible," "when the hell are they going to get off the stage?" and "please god, make the bad music stop." All of these comments were made during their set when there is no possible way they could have heard me. Besides, if he had been insulted by something I had said about his band wouldn't he have shouted, "DJ Death Star is the best band in Boston!"? Upon further consideration, I realized that I might have uttered a few ill words about WRBB as well. I had run into an acquaintance at the show who was telling me about how he worked at the NU radio station from 4-6. I assumed he meant 4-6AM, because the only people I knew who worked there got shitty time slots. "That really sucks," I told him. He looked confused and when I said, "that's 4-6AM, right?" he informed me that he actually works 4-6PM. It's also possible I said something about the shirts sucking when I first grabbed one, but that would have been said to my friends and DJ Douche Bag was still on stage basking in the glory of the 4 or 5 people who applauded.

Other than that, I don't believe I said anything, good or bad about WRBB. I've never even listened to it and generally have no opinion. I do like Ra Ra Riot and free things, and WRBB was responsible for bringing them to Northeastern and for the free poster I snagged. So here's to WRBB, "the best radio station in Boston!"

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