Posts tagged ‘gigs’
They promised us an exciting night of Balkan Boogie and Gypsies, and since I needed to schlep into the city to collect my Staind (avec Seether) ticket for their gig at the Astoria in January (yeah, I’m going to see them AGAIN), it seemed like a good idea to make a night of it. My friend made the drop (with the ticket) on the steps of St. Paul’s Cathedral, and off we went to what is apparently an Italian restaurant by day, and a Romanian restaurant by night. (Those cossetted city boys probably can’t handle anything more exotic than a plate of spag bol for lunch anyway.)
Our authentic Romanian meal (very good, I might add) was served by a rather cute and authentic Romanian waiter with a tiny silver spear through his left eyebrow (I thought the Romanians only put these things through the hearts of vampires? I guess times have changed…). I couldn’t help noticing that he always made certain some part of him was in contact with some part of me whenever he came to serve us. Now before you go getting all excited here, bear in mind that this was a respectable establishment in a respectable part of town – with St. Paul’s Cathedral within spitting distance, I might add!
While waiting for the live music to kick off, we were treated to an endless stream of pre-MTV black-and-white music videos (circa 1950s-60s) of Romanian singers and dancers – obviously an attempt to entertain us as we scarfed down our stuffed cabbage. It was amusing… for about five minutes, after which the natives became restless (or at least I did) and clamoured for the real thing. And at last we got it… though it wasn’t quite what I expected when I signed up for a night of Balkan music and Gypsies. The food and the waiter (and music videos) might have been authentic, but the band sure as hell wasn’t. Not unless Cornwall has suddenly been chopped off from Southwest England and moved to the Danube-Sava-Kupa line.
“Now Mitzi, will you please tell me what in heck Cornwall has to do with the Balkans?” I can hear you asking. Well, you’d best direct that query to the Ragged Trousered Philanthropists – a “Balkan” band from – you guessed it – CORNWALL. Indeed, their pedigree becomes ever more dubious when you discover that their lead singer has a heavy-duty Cockney accent coming from beneath his waxed handlebar tache. I have to admit I really enjoyed them, despite the song they did about cockroaches and despite the argument I had with my friend about the age of their drummer – a lad I placed at about 12 years old and he placed at about 21. We did agree on one thing – that someone either spiked the sour beef soup we had for a starter or our vision was much worse than we thought, because we both swore that the band’s name was misspelled on their bass drum, reading Philantropist, not Philanthropist. Photographic evidence has proved us both wrong, however. From now on, I think I’m going to start hanging out with people who can see better than I do. (Anyone have Stevie Wonder‘s phone number?)
Philanthropist, Shilanthropist, it was all good fun. The band’s music had a very Russian flavour to it, with that manic speeding-up tempo that makes you want to abandon your chair, drop to the floor and start kicking your legs up into the air. In fact, I kept expecting the Russians at the table behind me to suddenly break into one of these Cossack breakdance routines that would’ve put my back out for sure if I dared to attempt it. Sadly, I had to content myself with banging the flat of my hand onto the table in time with the music. I still can’t move my fingers.
Now no self-respecting faux-Balkan band would have been complete without faux-Romany Gypsy girls dancing and jumping about and making that nasty little trilling noise with their tongues (I kept wondering if I’d somehow ended up at a Middle-Eastern wedding). And yup, we had ’em aplenty. In fact, more and more kept turning up throughout the evening, one of whom looked like a reject from Camden Town with her multicoloured dreadlocks and tattoos, another I’m sure had to be named either Sharmila or Preethi and was about as Romany Gypsy as Dame Edna Everage. I had to feel sorry for the poor Romanian waitress who kept dodging them with plates of food – she didn’t look at all happy. Frankly, I’m surprised one of the Gypsy girls didn’t end up with a stuffed cabbage stuffed up her –
On that note…
Yup, I figured I’d rope you in with that headline! I bet you’re imagining all sorts now – wild nights filled with endless amounts of Jack Daniels, weed, blow and, of course, sex. I mean, we are talking about the big bad boys of rock and roll (and the little erotic writer), aren’t we?
Well, the joke’s on you, baby!
I am speaking of the American alternative rock band Staind who, as many of you probably know, happens to be a major musical passion of mine. Several months back I secured a ticket to their gig at the O2 Arena (opening for Nickelback… arrgghhh…), then out of the blue on Tuesday night I received an alert on Facebook that they were playing a special gig at the Hard Rock Cafe in London on Wednesday night to benefit breast cancer. I couldn’t believe my luck when I was still able to get a ticket.
So off I went on the frequently unreliable London public transport system, reckoning on an interminable evening of standing for hours needing to pee and having nothing to drink and no one to talk to. Well, I couldn’t have been more wrong. Okay, so we had to queue outside in the ever-increasing cold till 7pm, and I was already panicking that I would lose a good spot inside because I’d need to nip to the loo the moment I entered the venue. I made the pierced lads in front of me swear they would save me a piece of floor, only to lose them once I got inside. It turns out I didn’t need them anyway. With complimentary pink fruity “virgin” cocktail in hand, I ran to the loo, did what needed to be done, and made my way to the head of the gathering crowd, using the excuse that I’m short to secure a place of honour right in front of the stage. I then proceeded to get comfortable and strip down to my Staind vest top (yes, the very same one that was waylaid in Denver the other day), using the lad on my left to hold my jacket and the one on my right to hold my drink.
As the Hard Rock crew came past with munchies (usually neglecting us poor sods at stage-front), a little party started up, consisting of me, the tattooed Glaswegian headbanger next to me, his lady friend from Essex (who was so kind as to buy me a bottle of Corona), and a slew of foreign students from India behind us. We had a gay old time chattering away, singing Staind songs, and exchanging names and emails. This went on for nearly two hours, since the band seemed to be occupied somewhere doing something (eating at McD’s?). Then finally at 9pm – the moment we were all waiting for! Alas, I forgot what it’s like to be directly in front of the speakers. Eh? Huh? What did you say?
I got caught up in the excitement of being up close and personal with my Massachusetts lads and ended up jumping about and screaming and singing along to “It’s Been Awhile” and “Outside” (two songs I die for) and occasionally hugging the headbanging Glaswegian, his friend, and the Indians in my joy at being there. (I’m sure there are photos of my disgrace in several cameras, including those belonging to band’s roadies). When the 50-minute set ended, requisite souvenirs were handed out to the audience, with the Glaswegian securing three Vic Firth drumsticks, one of which he gave to me, saying I “deserved it”. And it was definitely one the drummer had used – it’s generously stippled with the evidence.
After the gig, I went outside with my headbanging mate, who said he was going to try to meet the band. Having nothing to eat at home, I decided to hang about for the hell of it. Well, never did I expect to end up meeting the entire band, not to mention getting my photo taken with each of them. (I hadn’t even brought a camera – my new friends, who’d suddenly increased to include a musician, were kind enough to be my Alfred Eisenstaedt.) Lead singer Aaron Lewis even signed my drumstick. In all honestly, I can’t remember ever meeting a bunch of more down-to-earth guys who, at least from my observation, are refreshingly removed from bullshit celebritydom and really only seem to care about making art and taking it to the people. (Isn’t that what music is supposed to be about?) I only wish I’d asked Aaron to say hi to my bf on the phone, since a couple of people were handing him their mobiles.
Fortunately on the way home something prompted me to take the Jubilee Line to Stratford, for as I found out after I arrived, the Central Line had been shut down for the rest of the night due to some glitch or other. That’s the thing about London – you’ll be in a great mood, then turn into Jack Nicholson in The Shining when you can’t get to your destination. I often feel like I’m plotting war strategy when I go into the city, checking online that the trains and tube lines I need are running and that no one is striking or working on the lines… yet it’s usually in vain, since anything can happen despite one’s best-laid plans. Armed with drumstick in hand, I wasn’t the least bit concerned about my safety walking home from the train station after midnight. I held it clutched in my little hand, ready to use it as a prostate stimulator should any local yob take an unwanted fancy to me. Needless to say, I arrived at my door unharmed, save for the ringing in my ears.
Had I known how the evening would turn out, I’d have taken along a signed copy of one of my books to give to the band. (Wonder if they’d prefer Getting Even: Revenge Stories (
Ca) or The New Black Lace Book of Women’s Sexual Fantasies (
Ca)? I’m now beginning to think I should’ve had the rest of the guys sign my drumstick rather than playing favourites with Aaron. I’m also thinking I should’ve hit them up for a commission or, at the very least, be placed on the Staind payroll. Because thanks to me, a lot more people have heard of them. Hmm… Maybe I’m in the wrong business. I might need to have a friendly word in their shell-like when I’m at the O2 tomorrow night.