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15 April 2007 @ 05:24 pm
I have peed with the Protomen.  
I went to the Protomen concert. Mike and I went forth from the apartment to Union Station, called cab, and got lost. Bitterly lost in the void between DC quadrants, running back and forth across NW and NE, with only the city's reasonably-priced zone-based cabfare system to protect us.

Eventually, we did find the bar, and it was strange. Never had I been in a more insular establishment. A New Orleans theme, every surface was covered in faux-gumbo and voodoo knicknacks, the entire place gloomed over in garish, dingy red neon. The entire bar turned and regarded us with the mute and conspiratorial suspicion, made idle by expectation, but sinister for all of that. They knew their names, those of their peers - and not ours. It wasn't hostility or the fear and angst towards strangers, but the promise of both if we stepped out of line. Regulars are great fans of regularity. We sat in one of the empty giant red booths, pre-fab from whatever companies they are that create these things for the burgeoning ticky-tacky 50's diner market.

They were a motley bunch that regarded us. Dressed as flowery romantic cowboys, some, others like Halloween zapatistas, renegade high school students liberating the candy of the bourgeosie children for a more equitable consumption round the bong of the people. But they had blown past that point, stretched outwards while the style remained impossibly constant. It had grown anachronistic at first, and then eventually purely iconoclastic. They were middleaged men, bearded in the way that shines as a clear signal of the knowledge of progressive rock, clearly keen to marijuana, potbellied from beer. A repudiation in the celebration, camp to a degree I'd never seen, with a ruthless efficiency and smug satisfaction generally reserved for the most elegant of ironies.

I was, in short, well pleased.

Mike and I began to order beer as the Johnny Cash started playing, discussing genetics and politics and whether or not the regulars, those insular others in the periphery were going to attack us. We had no idea who they were. I knew only their fondness for Johnny Cash, their insularity, and their strange costumes. Mike was nervous, but then, he has yet to realize the love of Johnny Cash protects all who bear it from one another - what harm can come to two people who have heard and known Johnny Cash? Two men who know Hell do not strike each other.

Eventually, time came nigh, and we went upstairs, up past old indie band posters, too small for mass adolescent consumption, up past the rickety stairs, past the smoking patio, into the tiniest venue in all the world. An attic with a massive sound system and a tiny stage, a bar at the back. The gimmicky doorman stamped our hands with the fleur de lis. And we waited, as I perused the strangers for to name them as a cast.

There were the Group, as I called them before I knew them. Most in their 30's, in their cowboy cum freedom fighter outfits. Strange sorts that mingled among themselves and spoke of things carefully selected that only they should know.

There was the hipster couple, eyeglasses and tight brown leather jackets selected, no doubt, with great care. What purpose wearing clothing that doesn't perfectly frame your eyes with just enough awkwardness, that does not so tightly frame your narrow little shoulderblades?

There was the Rocker, filthy, flowing black hair to his shredded-jeans-clasped ass. Eyes glazed with booze (How?! At 10 PM?!), he brought his own world with him. This world he projected out before him in a proper 5 foot radius, his rockosphere, within which he was God and King. It was right. Any concert without at least one of his sort is no place to be. He keeps the world in balance, prevents an aesthetic shift towards the hipster couple. Without him, their eyeglasses would too perfectly refract the fluorescent stagelights, amplified by their pomposity. Ineffectual and sulfurous fires would be set, and the place would become uninhabitable for the stink of it.

But who really drew my eye was the Grayshirt. Fat, he was, soft and with the glasses of a proper nerd. We entered with him in tow somehow, Mike and I, and we were all instinctively careful that he was not with us, that we were not with him. Yet there we were, in the same tiny room, with the same dozen odd people, for the same professed reason - but not with each other. His choice, much as ours. He was not there to make friends. Grayshirt had everything of the perfect nerd, puffy, fat arms, barrel, downy soft torso, ill-fitting clothes. He reeked of old spice. But, his time would come.

And then, the first crested the stairs, lugging their equipment past the bouncer.


Current Music: Protomen