Monday, August 19, 2013

Friday Night in the Royal Soho Hotel

It’s Friday night and I’m sitting at the Soho bar watching a band called Strange Planet. They’re a three piece playing pretty straightforward rock riffs under alt-pop vocal melodies with long hair and black T-shirts and it is clear to me that they truly miss the nineties. Their singer/guitarist looks a lot like Jesus and after their set my brother and I talk to him for a long time about Weezer, specifically Pinkerton, and share with him our deep love of most things Rivers Cuomo, despite the fact that these days all he seems to care about is destroying his fanbase. At some point I wander away from the conversation and snake through the mostly empty bar to the bathroom. I am already too drunk to give a shit about the fact that we’re supposed to play in an hour and as I’m pissing I read the words “I want to fuck your mouth” off the wall to my right.

Back at the bar I’m introduced to our sound guy for the night. His name is Dylan and I haven’t seen him since my sophomore year of high school, where I hated him from afar and knew him only as the kid who got caught trying to masturbate through his track pants in the back of Mrs. Chen’s Geometry class. He looks exactly as I remember him, except now with a beer in his hand instead of his dick. I am disheartened to learn that he is the son of the bar’s owners, who are fine people, and even more disheartened to learn that he is completely inept and “just filling in” for the normal technician. I smoke a cigarette, chug a Red Bull, and we start setting up. Our first sound check is over at 12:35, but even as the shrinking crowd gets smaller Dylan tells us not to start until 1:00 a.m.  

On stage, everything sounds like shit. My monitor is feeding back like crazy and all I can hear is my own dirty guitar signal and Dylan telling us to turn up, turn down, whatever—he doesn’t know. Nothing is mic’d properly, none of the levels right, and I can tell from the looks of the faces on the floor that this set will be a struggle. I want to call him out for being an idiot but decide against it because his parents are nice and in the room, and because by now I just don’t give a fuck and want to be done with the show.

We play a couple of songs and Dylan stops us to check some levels. We play another and he stops us again, telling us each time to turn our amps down. By the fifth song of the set our guitars are so low and our monitors so flooded and washed out that what we hear on stage doesn’t even sound like music. After that Dylan basically gives up and starts talking to some homely looking girl and we’re annoyed to the point of not caring so we turn our amps all the way back up and tear through the rest of the set. When we’re done the bar is deserted. We break down, collect the $200 we made on the door, and load up our cars. I don’t consider the time completely wasted, but the post-show blues after a night like this are tough to shake. If this band is my religion, tonight Soho is my crisis of faith.

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