BROOKLYN, NY—Our story begins two months ago, when my friendly metal companion played me a new record he had just acquired, Nature Tries Again, by Raspberry Bulbs. We both geeked out over how it sounded as if The Vaselines and black metal combined forces. The record became our jam. So naturally, when we stumbled upon a flier that Raspberry Bulbs would be playing some sketchy address in their hometown of Brooklyn, plans were made and kept.
The Thursday night show quickly arrived and so did my ever-present stomachaches. Rain fell in torrential sheets and thunder shook the house, in which I cowered. I contemplated staying in like the old fogey I am. The scene of my wife and I curling up on the couch resting our wrinkly bones while the elements battled it out against our window flashed before my eyes. But how could I face my friend ever again, especially if he found out the truth? And so I forced myself to leave the house and have a good time like the young person I sometimes pretend to be.
As I cautiously took the drive to my friend’s house from where he promised to drive us to the show, I thought, “Thank Bruce Willis my driving duties are done for the night, this shit is dangerous.” If you know me, then you know there is nothing worse than my sense of direction, my sight on a rainy night, or my parking capabilities in NYC. He, of course, knew me, and in turn knew this much about me, so he graciously offered to ease my embarrassment as long as he didn’t have to come get me from Bumblesville, NJ. Flooded streets and bumper-to-bumper traffic foreboded our adventure into the city that night. We raided his iPod for records we hadn’t heard in years to get our minds off the abysmal weather and our filling bladders. Drinking coffee and knocking off the digital dust worked only so long and soon my urinary tract alarm was going off like that digital watch you have no clue how to work. At times I can be annoying and painful to be around—you should see me when I have to pee terribly.
Just as the thought of jumping out of the car and diving into oncoming traffic to end my misery came to the front of my mind, we pulled up to the address and found a parking spot directly out front. Suspicious to say the least? Yes. Maybe our luck had turned, the god’s of rock shows long past were smiling upon us and my dry underwear was not about to question them. We entered the building and paid our fee. A cool 10 dollars each, a small price to pay for peepee relief and a good time.
When I finished my fifth cocktail, just as if a starter pistol went off, the show began. Blaring out of phase guitar and synth came flying through the speakers like the Red Baron, as two young men slammed drumsticks onto a pile of metal sheets. What I thought were whiskey shots came and went, and a woman got on the microphone and started repeating a melody of sorts. That’s when my stomach prescriptions kicked into full gear.
All at once the sound stopped, and the quietest fight I have ever bared witness to broke out in front of the stage. A handsome young woman in full crust punk attire punched the sound technician square in his “Billy Idol wearing Don Johnson’s jacket” face. No one around me knew if this was part of the entertainment for the evening or an actual display of fisticuffs.
Time shifted, as it tends to do when you are full-on script fucked, and a band that sounded like The Germs engulfed the stage. They had a projector that only played the blue “no disc found” screen onto their drummer for their entire set, and their singer, as far as my brain could register, was Jason Bateman from Teen Wolf Too. Before I could bring my hands into a clapping motion and tell my friend that this was totally next fucking level Raspberry Bulbs, they were halfway through their set. What the fuck was happening?
What piqued my interest most was how the crowd had turned from a semi-rowdy punk show into a scene from Children Of The Corn. No one made a sound, no movement was detectable, and all emotion had been drained from their faces. The band sounded exact to the recording, my friend and I frothing over it for the past month. Did this attention to sonic detail somehow hypnotize the cutoff denim vested crowd? They seemed to be entranced by these punk rock sirens, under their complete control. Could they be forced to do things against their will? Buy t-shirts? Overthrow empires? Kill debutantes and shove their corpses into walls? Holy fuck we had to get out of here.
I grabbed my friend’s sleeve, and as if reading each other’s minds, we both took off for the only exit we had seen. Snakes danced under the makeshift bar and the merch table caught fire as we passed. I felt the crowd turn and stare at us as we rounded the corner and headed for the exit. If we looked back, even for a second, I knew we would be maggot food. A few steps away from the doorway, a concrete slab started crashing down, threatening to cover the only way out. My friend and I tucked and rolled just in time and we spilled out onto the Brooklyn streets. Fresh sobering air flooded our lungs and as I tried to form the words, “Are you okay?” my bedside alarm clock shrilly took precedence.