Guided by Beer
Local(ish)band Guided by Voices played a hometown friends and family show last Friday at the Southgate House. About a third of the balcony was reserved for their guests. Appearing stage right were singer Bob Pollard's parents in matching baby blue GBV T-shirts. I think they lasted as long as the band, just shy of three hours.
I had plenty to drink, but it was a trickle in comparison to what the band drank. They reportedly ordered 10 cases of beer, which magically appeared on stage one at a time, and also passed around a bottle of Jack Daniels between songs.
Everyone was getting pretty silly drunk by the end of the show including, apparently, opening band Readymaid's singer, Jason Snell. Undeterred by Bob's bumbled thanks to them in which he called the band 'Readymix,' Snell decided to give Bob a bear hug of sorts on stage. Somehow Snell ended up falling into him, pushing him into the crowd and then pulling him back onstage by the back of his shirt. Although Bob continued the song somewhat unaware that he was recently horizontal, the stage hand noticed and kicked Snell out.
The crowd was just shy of the 800 expected. Coming from the beer swillers and spillers were a number of camera flashes (it made a nice effect for the song or two that the lights were out). One person at the show noticeably absent of camera was photographer Thomas Condon, convicted in connection with the morgue photo scandal.
Arriving at Bogart's Tuesday for the Suzanne Vega show, I was shocked to see how small the audience was. A sign warned concert-goers of moshpits and stage-diving, which I had a feeling would be no problem at this show. Throughout the opening act, most of the audience preferred to sit.
My friend Brian wanted to sit close to the stage, but not being a fan of crowds (even small ones of people who graduated high school when 'Luka' hit) I moved to the wayside. For the rest of the show, I stood at the top of the steps leading down to the bathrooms and backstage.
Soon enough the guitarist for the opening band passed by. I did a double take, because not only was he handsome — he was the guitarist for the opening band. After walking curiously past me a few times, he ended up standing right next to me. I hoped he wasn't looking to use his semi-stardom for a one-night stand.
His name was Billy, and we actually had a nice conversation about the haywire bus situation the band had been through, the hotel they were stuck in and the chanteuse singing. He even brought me a banana and a Coke from backstage and shared his Canadian cigarettes. But he had on a curious perfume that, well, didn't do him justice.
'I might be able to get you and your friend to meet Suzanne,' he said. The scent of his cologne melted away.
After picking my jaw up from the floor, I pondered what I would say to her. She inspired me to take guitar lessons at 15. I now suck at the guitar, but that's beside the point.
Vega played 'Small Blue Thing,' 'Marlene on the Wall' and, of course, 'Luka.' When the show was over, I waited, as Billy advised, beginning to slightly panic.
The only other famous person I'd met was Mark Sandman of Morphine, when I worked room service at a hotel. My excuse to go to his room was to pick up his used dinner tray. Even with so very much in common as a dinner tray, I couldn't utter much more than 'I really like your music.'
Billy introduced me to Vega like I was an old friend just as she was coming up the steps. She shook my hand and walked away to meet her hard-core fans, the people who religiously trail her, show after show. Billy explained that some of these folks creeped him out. After a while, I mustered up the courage to have her sign my book.
'Thanks for coming to our town,' I said, 'I enjoyed your show.' Then I marched away, pleased at my lack of creepiness.
I felt liberated after that and asked Billy what cologne he was wearing.
'It's a musk. Do you like it?' he asked.
Like George Washington, I cannot tell a lie. I can, however, lamely spout a half-truth. 'It's unusual,' I said.
Billy gave me his telephone number and e-mail address, promising if I ever made it to the East Coast he'd give me a free guitar lesson. The bands were heading off to the next show that night, so we couldn't hang out, which I was relieved about.
I might have seen stars that night, but I wasn't about to catch one.
Say My Name
Nothing signifies the holidays like an office party. OK, I admit to a little tongue in cheek there, but most companies try to entertain their people in some way.
I do, however, sometimes need a nudge in the holiday spirit department and also to dust off my mingling skills, so one of my holiday traditions is The World's Largest Office Party.
It's a big yearly event at the Hyatt Regency and a great fundraiser for the American Cancer Society. Every year I forget just how many people actually show up after work to drink, people-watch, listen to music and potentially meet others. The funny thing is there's often more looking than meeting going on. Is this a Cincinnati shyness that prevails? This time at the WLOP I vowed to change the tide.
Schedules conflicting, my girlfriends and I agree to meet at 9 p.m. in the Hyatt bar. A good plan, as I subscribe to the proven theory that it's easier to meet others when traveling solo than with a pack of girls.
In the throng of people, even seeing your own feet was a problem when I hit the party at 8. I'd forgotten about the display of holiday finery that's gold and bare (on the women only, darn it). The tanning beds in this area must be doing quite well and the plastic surgeons must be working overtime enhancing breasts these days.
Who am I to criticize? The guys seemed happy, with plastic cups being raised in many a direction.
Having made my way around the giant ballroom, I parked it against a door and drifted into oblivion. It wasn't a nanosecond before I had company. He was sort of cute with dimples and short boyish hair. He commented on the crowd and the band; I agreed and let the conversation flow.
He introduced himself and I returned with 'I'm Wendy.' He inquired about friends, and I admitted to being alone until later. When asked about my pattern of going out, I was at a loss to say exactly where and what I do with my free time — though of course I'm writing about it on a weekly basis. He countered with the fact that he makes a habit of going out whenever the opportunity presents itself, and it was funny somehow.
The Cinderella clock was ticking and eventually the cell phone summoned (I only admit this because it's the truth and, yes, cell phones have no place in rooms full of hundreds of people). It was time to go and it seemed a waste not to leave open the possibility of future vagueness, so I sought out a pen and a napkin and asked for his number. Yes, a very modern thing to do, but it has to be done when your coach will soon be a pumpkin.
He looked me straight in the eye and knew I couldn't remember his name. 'Wendy, what is my name?' I had no idea and wished I was a blonde.
Here I had spent almost the better part of an hour with this guy, he bought me a drink, gave me background information on the band, and now I didn't remember his name?
'Give me your number,' he said. This is the sure-fire way to get the deer-in-the-headlight look from me, but he knew that somehow and gave me his number. He whispered in my ear, 'Call me.'
Of course, I told him honestly that I didn't know what to call him. He mouthed, 'Just call me.'