Poplife: Issue #30

Thu, August 29th, 2002 at 12:00am PDT

Comic Books
Matt Fraction, Columnist

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RANDOM NOTES FROM A ROCK SHOW

POPLIFE is a collection of excerpts from my work journal. There is no specific form or function the column serves other than to allow the reader to see what my experience in my first year as a comics-writer is like. Some weeks I get work done, so I talk about work. Some weeks I don't get any work done, so I ramble incoherently. POPLIFE's purpose is to provide a glimpse behind the curtain of my specific process.

The Replay Lounge

[The entirety of the Replay Lounge.  I was sitting on the bar.]
The entirety of the Replay Lounge. I was sitting on the bar.
The Replay Lounge in Lawrence, Kansas, is probably the perfect place to see a rock show, as it is only slightly larger than my living room and has a lot of pinball machines lining the side walls. In fact, it looks a bit like an arcade set from some forgotten eighties sitcom, the kind of set where Dad may learn a special lesson about life and love from his adoring fuckup of a Son just before Menudo or somebody comes out and kicks it old school.

There's apparently some outside part to the bar too, but I didn't really pay attention.

That Certain Age

[You are too old for the rock show.  Unless you lost your virginity at fifty.]
You are too old for the rock show. Unless you lost your virginity at fifty.
There comes a certain point in time when you reach That Certain Age. You know the age I'm talking about-- I'm talking about the age where you're officially Too Old To Be At A Rock Show. It's sad and embarrassing for the rest of us to see; I think you know it, too. I think you know that we know because of the caution with which you enter the club; the desperation with which scan the crowd from side to side in search of your other golf buddies; and then the temerity with which you quickly cluster together around a pitcher of light beer or six, a real Beercan Superman watching all the Freshman Hotties come by in their endless streams of panties and perfume and you think that you cannot be seen by us. We know you as you know you: Your thinning pate. Your polo shirts. Your shorts, closer to your balls than to your knees. Your full-time job.

We know you. We see you.

We hate you.

Embrace your oldness, fogey. Pucker up and smooch Old Man Middle-Age square on its mediocre mouth in the back of your airbagged minivan, because watching you bob and twitch like some sort of spastic insurance salesman makes our toes curl up into little foot-fists of shame.

SHAME, I say.

So I give this to you, people of Earth: Fraction's Am I Too Old To Be At The Rock Show? Formula of Mathematical Certainty:

2x+(x/5) = Too Old For The Rock Show

Where x = Age at which virginity was lost.

For those of you still young enough to rock, I say ROCK to thee and I shall see you at the Rock Show. And for you too Old for the Rock, I hear MAD ABOUT YOU is about to start.

For women, make that, oh, (X/2) or so. No Rock Show is complete with out a few Old Ass Rock Slags.

Theft, Scheme, Caper, Heist

One Guy stealing a shitload of special edition Winston ashtrays is theft.

Two Guys stealing a shitload of special edition Winston ashtrays is a scheme.

Three Guys stealing a shitload of special edition Winston ashtrays is a caper.

Four Guys stealing a shitload of special edition Winston ashtrays is a goddamn heist.

On Opening Acts

[Even if they knew <I>Freebird</I>, they wouldn't play it for you.]
Even if they knew Freebird, they wouldn't play it for you.
Being the Opening Act sucks. I've been the Opening Act before, and I can tell you that from experience.

Being the Opening Act sucks.

YES, the Opening Act knows they're not the band you've actually come to see. YES, the Opening Act knows that you want them off the stage. NO, the Opening Act doesn't take requests-- even the facetious requests, which are the requests Opening Acts hate the most. YES, the Opening Act knows you're not gonna get up, come closer to the stage, or dance to the Rock Music, even though you are asked nicely. YES, the Opening Act are fully aware that they suck. YES, the Opening Act are just trying to Rock, maybe just a little bit; maybe the Opening Act thinks that if they can just bring maybe a little bit of Rock to the people, then maybe the people would be happy. Maybe the people would think, hey, life's not so bad at the Rock Show, that girl's kind of pretty, maybe I'll dance with her, maybe I'll have a good time with her and we'll swap numbers at the end of the night and maybe smooch a little bit, and while maybe the Opening Act aren't the band you came to see, maybe you don't end up mindingthe Opening Act quite so much and as a matter of fact you kinda had a good time for the whole show instead of just the part you came to see and you wouldn't mind going to see the Opening Act when they're THE Act one day, one day in the future, the far off distant future that the Opening Act can get to if they work hard enough, and play hard enough, and practice the Rock hard enough for the people, for all the people, even the Old People who are at the Rock Show.

That said--

MAN, did that Opening Act fucking suck.

On Smoking

Dude, it's a Rock Show. Your lungs are dumb. Smoke up.

Don't Step to Timmy

[Timmy plays pinball in 1935.]
Timmy plays pinball in 1935.
Alright, here's the thing. You want to play the arcade games, the pinball games, that's fine. You play all you like.

But you don't step to Timmy.

Suckers try to step to Timmy get smacked down like the Constitution in Florida, because Timmy don't play video games. Timmy fucking is video games. I once saw Timmy flip a GALAGA machine with such single-minded ferocity that the hot Video Game Chick who was all revved up by his mad GALAGA skillz turned away from him, weeping her lonely tears towards the gaping maw of her cold, cold bed. She learned that her bed would not be warmed by Timmy that night, for Timmy is a GALAGA business motherfucker, and GALAGA business is motherfucking good. Timmy got his MFA in asswhoop with a minor in fuck yeah, and video games is his alma mater.

So, I guess Timmy had been at the Replay the night before and flipped the Playboy Pinball game something like four times, his name burning proudly in LCD light atop the high score list for all of Lawrence to see: Timmy went to sleep as king of the Pinball Playboys.

Of course, at closing time the Replay turned off all the machines and went home, thereby vanquishing Timmy's accomplishment to the realm of memory and legend. Thus, Timmy made a beeline for the Playboy Pinball machine as soon as we walked in the club and stood there for what had to be at least two hours, playing all through the Opening Act, re-accomplishing that which he had lost.

We had money riding on whether or not he'd come back over for the Rock Show at all at one point.

He did, but still.

A Note for the Ladies on Perfume

Ladies: do not wear the same perfume my grandmother wore while also wearing low-slung leather pants. It really, REALLY queers up the gig.

A Note for the Guys what Scream Out Requests

Guys: If you are at a Rock Show, and you know but one song-title of the band you are seeing and feel compelled to scream it out… well, okay, go ahead, I can't stop you.

But make sure that you knowthe song you're shouting for, above and beyond the title because if you keep shouting for it after the band's already done played it, you are a shit-stupid shiteating shitfuck and I will steal your lighter while the beautiful lead singer makes fun of you from the stage. Later, in my head, we will laugh about this and laugh about you.

The Detroit Cobras

[RACHEL NAGY.]
RACHEL NAGY.
Out came The Detroit Cobras. When speaking of the band, I tend to put the stress on the 'De' in "Detroit" rather than on the 'troit,' which is where it normally goes when I speak of the city itself. This is Very Important.

The Detroit Cobras are an R&B/Soul cover band with absolutely no pretensions of being anything but the best R&B/Soul cover band you've ever seen; the most Ass shakin', floor stompin', scream-and-hollerin' Garage Soul band of the highest order. The songs they cover on their two albums to date are entirely obscure classics you can't believe you've never heard, not performed so much as tore up with raw reverence, balls-out sincerity, and a pure love that's utterly infectious.

The Cobras themselves, while all fine and accomplished musicians, are merely a focal point, a giant arrow, a big-ass neon sign that spells out in galactically-visible letters R-A-C-H-E-L N-A-G-Y.

[MINK RAT OR RABBIT, the first record by the Detroit Cobras.]
MINK RAT OR RABBIT, the first record by the Detroit Cobras.
RACHEL NAGY (yes, like that, in ALL CAPS, I decree) is the lead singer for the Cobras. She's about four-foot-two I think, judging by how tall she was at the bar, and she sings like Ronnie Spector after a long crying jag. Cigarette in one hand, the audience in the palm of the other, she shakes her ass and hollers her heart right out of her chest with a stage presence at once both fraught with conviction and bubbling over with energy and Rock Fun. She's having fun. She wants you to have the fun. Don't you want to have the fun? She wants you to dance. She wants to be the soundtrack when you get laid later on in the evening. Her entire stage presence just SCREAMS it.

(She used to be a butcher! She used to be an exotic dancer! She smokes like a diesel and swears like a sailor! And she brings you The Rock! I'm not making any of that up!)

I've been to lots of Rock Shows, even lots of Tiny Rock Shows, but this was the first time I'd been to one and had just a little feeling of what Rock Shows must've been like in their earliest days, back when rock was a revolution. Maybe it was the classic feelings of the songs, or maybe it was the venue itself that did it to me. As I said up top, the Replay really isn't much bigger than my living room. Cram a hundred kids or so around a band in a tight semicircle and watch 'em all dance not a foot away from the musicians and you'll see, you'll get it, you'll understand why Elvis was a television sex menace, Jerry Lee was cracker trash rape-o scum, and White America would do all they could to keep that nigger music up in Harlem. Look! Look at all that un-ironic affection pouring out of your fellow man: everybody jumping, everybody sweating, everybody having the fucking time of their lives. You're dancing by just flailing around half-assed in time with music you feel in chest, you're screaming yourself raw from wanting the band to hear what they're doing to you and you can't think of a better way to say thank you.

I love me the Rock Show.

never have to worry about lockin' the door

I can think of worse ways to end an evening than driving your drunkass friends home from the Rock Show with the windows down, caterwauling out Hotel Yorba at the top of your smokebashed lungs.

on comics

Oh, fuck comics.

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