BROOKLYN, NY—I really like Cold Cave; however, my initial reaction to the band was that of my inner teenager Holden Caulfield, my musical taste into a tightly wrapped box. Sometimes this happens, even to the best of us. But we recover and we move on. And if we are smart, we pretend that we got it all along… And if we are masochists, we confess our shortcomings in a weekly northern NJ-based music magazine.
I must say my friendly metal adventure companion was a true believer from the start and he gently nudged me along the road to becoming a fan and an admirer of the band. The next logical step, of course, was attendance of a show.
When we saw Cold Cave would be hitting the road with the infamous Boyd Rice, and that they would be playing two NYC dates, we thought, “Do we again risk our skins at 285 Kent, where the show would start at a reasonable hour but where our lives had once flashed before our very eyes?” or “Do we venture to Saint Vitus, where we would presumably be safe from harm but the show would begin at the snoozy time of 11:59 p.m.?” The promise of experiencing the show without malice and in the company of spooky Brooklyn goths at midnight was just too much to pass up. So we sucked it up like men—like wrinkly old men—and downed a Starbucks/5-Hour Energy cocktail before heading out to Saint Vitus for the musical witching hour.
When we got to the club, I quickly assessed the drink deals. Cheap PBR tall boys and shot combos named after popes ensured the going got going and the stained glass inverted crucifixion scene made me feel downright giddy. As we rounded the midnight mark, my stomachaches hit 88 mph and I began to think, “Jeez, I had no idea they made so many youth large Burzum t-shirts.”
As the dimmest of lights got even dimmer and smoke began to fill the bar, the show was finally upon us. My friend and I took control of a back corner by the merch, where I found a chair to stand on as my comrade fought off the Sid and Nancy’s for dominance of our area. As Cold Cave and Boyd Rice hit their stride, I started to feel the crowd getting a bit thinner, which was strange because no one was leaving. I mean, I would have noticed from my vantage point of being perched, crow-like, by the back door. Strange.
The sound was booming so hard that, in the off beats, you could feel the air being sucked toward the stage, as if the band was trying to steal the breath from your lungs. By the fourth song I realized that the push and pull of air was getting much stronger, and it seemed to be concentrated on the stage left side. What was happening over there? It felt like a riptide hidden in the hazed out air, pulling everything and everyone into its nothingness. If only the club wasn’t so dark I could see from whence this wrenching sensation was coming from. Just then a forgotten strobe pulsated to life, as if replying to my inquiry, and revealed a shadowy figure of a man in a leather biker hat and pitch-black aviators snorting cocaine with the fury of a god. But it wasn’t just the openness to revealing his superhero-like tolerance of illegal substances that scared me shitless; it was that I could finally see where the sold-out crowd was going!
As the set reached a fever pitch, the band and crowd alike lost themselves in the hypnotic electronics, and the stage left snorting got so intense that it literally opened a doorway into the nostrils of Boyd Rice. This black hole—located in the middle of his looming sneer—became so violent and consuming that it felt as if we were standing in front of a B-2 jet engine.
The line of concertgoers in front of us realized what was happening just as it was too late, and as her friends disappeared into oblivion, a girl with my haircut from nine years ago tightly grabbed onto my friend’s shirtsleeve. The narcotic-fueled vortex had taken hold of her, and her black velvet skirt was rippling in the tornado’s grasp. I grabbed hold of the merch table and looked back as she mouthed the words “help me,” but my friend and I both knew she was dead already. The stitches around my companion’s sleeve came loose and we watched as the young goth spiraled into music history along with a swatch of flannel fabric.
We turned to try and find a way out of the back room but the exit was still too far off. One more bump of white and we would be joining the party in Boyd’s bloodstream. As I looked back at my fellow adventurer, I couldn’t help but chuckle because now, wearing a sleeveless flannel, he finally looked as if he belonged in Brooklyn. But the levity was short-lived, and without words, my friend and I came to an understanding. We closed our eyes and accepted our fate, but something was wrong; the next fix never came. Instead, Mr. Rice seemed ill-affected in some way. Shaken off his snowy game. He was grimacing and rubbing his nose. And that’s when it hit me!
“He’s allergic to flannel!” I exclaimed, and as the words escaped my throat, Boyd’s nostrils opened up with an explosive sneeze that engulfed our world. Plumes of cocaine and black hair dye filled the sacrilegious club. And things were once again a Cold Cave show, filled to the rafters with snotty Brooklynites and mounds of drugs. It was indeed the best show ever.