I had waited so long for this night. Henry and I were both sick and he tried various ways to use this as his out, but his cries of “I have a fever!” fell on finger-plugged ears. And after the vehicular imblowlio en route to the show, it was pretty much all downhill for Henry.
Arriving at the Altar Bar around 6:30, we went straight upstairs to the bar where a prime location against the railing was secured, directly facing the stage, and Henry would only allow me to have one drink. (Perhaps this was because of the sixteen times I mentioned my urge to fight someone on the way to the show.) There was no way I was standing on the floor for this show. I’m too old, bones too brittle to become some fucked up casualty of a testosterone-steeped nightmare pit. And ain’t no way I’m relying on that big doof named Henry to have my back.
I liked our spot upstairs just fine.
Especially since it was right next to the steps and I got to watch a post-detox Jonny Craig get denied by the bouncer because he didn’t have on a wristband. I laughed way harder than necessary and then immediately tweeted about it, even though it wasn’t a big deal at all. Especially when he came back less than a minute later, wrist properly encircled with a 21+ paper bracelet.
My dislike for him is so fiery that I will grasp on to any pathetic chance to ridicule him, like any other good twelve-year-old would. The first time I spotted him that night, my stomach clenched up and I had all these latent desires to spit in his face for being such a dick, for making me subconsciously care about him and then worry myself to sleep every night when he was shipped away to detox, like he’s my fucking son, my fucking responsibility. He is not any of those things. But still, beneath the layers of rotting resentment and decayed disgust, I have this stupid, pudgy, soft mound of love for the fucking kid. Because he is Jonny Craig goddammit; fan-swindling, heroin-binging aside, he makes the music that soundtracks my stupid life, from the pinnacle of the Christina Chronicles to now.
Jonny spent most of the night situated at the bar right behind us and I was acutely aware of his presence the entire time. At one point, Henry girlishly spazzed because, “OMG Jonny touched my arm, sort of!” Henry acts like he hates all music affiliated with Jonny Craig, but deep down he’s been choreographing our wedding dance to one of his songs, I just know it. I JUST KNOW IT. He also wishes he had a tiny diamond embedded beneath his eye, just like Jonny.
We had to endure four other bands before Dance Gavin Dance, which was a slow torture. Not that I disliked any of them, but it seemed especially cruel on this night when I was sick and internally combusted with anticipation.
Quick run-down of the openers:
- Just Like Vinyl: They didn’t even need to announce that they’re from Seattle. It was pretty obvious. They brought with them some brand of modern grunge, I guess you could call it, though Henry pointed out that each one of them seemed to be playing a different genre. “It’s like if Blake started a garage band,” Henry scoffed. I can’t say I disliked it, it kept me interested and it was definitely not what I was expecting, considering the other bands on the tour. They kind of helped clear my sinuses momentarily, so I was into it. “We’re completely DIY,” the singer yelled into the mic. “We have no label, no management—-” “No kidding,” Henry mumbled. He really wasn’t impressed. Funny how he got all giggly when the singer was standing near us later on in the night.
- Close to Home: Pretty much my new favorite band, but mostly because I am now secretly (and psychotically) betrothed to the singer. HE IS COMPLETELY MY TYPE. I made sure to remind Henry of that constantly throughout their set and every time he walked past us after that, I squeezed Henry’s bicep and sighed dreamily. He wasn’t very impressed with them either, but that’s mostly because of his insane jealousy.
- In Fear & Faith: Not my first time seeing them, and while I love their music, they just don’t enrapture me when I see them live. I was really bothered by the singer’s attire, which I guess is a good sign that I’m getting kind of old. I’ve yet to see a man who looks good in burgundy pants. I would have been screwed if I was I was trying to find a date in the ’70s I guess.
- Iwrestledabearonce: With the exception of DGD, they were my favorite of the night. They brought so much energy and as a female, how can I not love a band that has a chick screamer. Siphon some elements from the Locust and MSI, pump it into a broad with perky boobs and exploding ‘nodes, cap it off with a sonic cowboy hat and that is what you get when Iwrestledabearonce are raping your ear drums. And if you would have seen the look on Henry’s face throughout their set, that’s exactly what he looked like: a big stupid rape victim. I’m not sure if he ever hated his life more than during that half hour, and I think he even mentioned that it rivaled the nine years he spent with his ex as far as weener-tucking is concerned. I would be lying if I tried to say that I didn’t cry at least once during their set. It was also the first time of the night that the kids below us looked alive. Some hippie fuck that Henry hated all night long got thrown out during their set, so surely that will provide some positive connotations.
All night, I was blessed with normal people next to me. But after Iwrestledabearonce, the people next to me were replaced with some Screech-looking motherfucker, his equally-nerdy bro and a drunk girl who was definitely out of their league until she started talking and I realized she had very little going for her aside from a decent body and average face.
I guess it was my payback, since Henry had to endure the hawk-ish screechings of Iwrestledabearonce. This bitch was the equivalent of my aural hell, with her pinched-nose falsetto voice that was definitely half past normal speaking voice, more toward 12-year-old Fran Drescher whine. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t drone out her nasal panderings about who her friends are cheating on and how she blew her chance to talk to Jonny earlier in the night.
“I’m kind of obsessed with him!” she screamed over her plastic cup of booze to these dorky boys panting in her presence. “I heard he has a serious girlfriend and I respect that, but I think I’d have a shot!” she slurred, grazing her pointy elbow against my arm as she reached for her straw.
And I laughed so hard. Bitch, if you’re at the BAR, you’re already too old for Jonny Craig. Don’t you know he has a predilection for underage scene girls?
She left to use the bathroom and her two guys immediately started talking about how annoying she is.
Finally, Dance Gavin Dance came out and that stopped the dumb bitch from talking. Granted, it was replaced with shrill screaming but she seemed to get tired after a little while so most of the set she was pretty quiet.
I’m not sure how much I breathed during their set. I kept catching myself holding my breath and wiping away tears, because I had waited so long for this moment that up until a few months ago I was sure was never going to happen. I’ve seen them twice in their post-Jonny Craig carnation and I can appreciate the music they made without him, but it wasn’t the same for me. It lacked that raw emotion and didn’t really move me like the original Dance Gavin Dance did. And the return of Jon Mess was icing on the cake. The camaraderie and chemistry he and Jonny have on stage together is infectious and I couldn’t stop smiling. Every time they hugged each other in between songs, I almost felt inspired to hug Henry, but that’s toeing the PDA line for me. However, there were moments where I was so overwhelmed, had so many emotions caught in my throat, that I’d place my head on Henry’s arm and sigh heavily.
“Lemon Meringue Tie” was played and my heart ached so badly, like hot bourbon swished over a toothache. That was the first song I ever heard by them, on my way home from seeing a Xiu Xiu show in Cincinnati with Christina, so many years ago now that it seems almost like a memory from someone else’s life; things are just so different now without Christina, without a true best friend. But for a few minutes, I was taken back to a really great time in my life.
And when Jonny sang “I don’t know why, I don’t know why I fight for you this way” the entire place erupted. My entire heart erupted.
“Backwards Pumpkin Song,” are you kidding me? The Screech kid next to me was like, “OMG I can’t believe they’re playing this!” and I almost wanted to knuckle-bump him because OMG I COULDN’T BELIEVE THEY WERE PLAYING THIS EITHER!
I’m about to start crying just from reliving this.
If E was administered aurally, and was called Dance Gavin Dance, I’d probably have more kids than the Duggans right now.
“Don’t they make you want to have sex?” I yelled in Henry’s ear.
His answer was a mixture of raw pain, boredom and disbelief. “Nope. Not at all.”
Their encore was “And Then I Told Them I Invented Times New Roman,” during the entirety of which I let myself cry freely. It’s just so anthemic to me.
As we walked to the car after the show, I rambled on and on about all the times I’d sit at the computer and watch live performances of that song on YouTube, thinking that I would never get to see it for real, and that I couldn’t believe I had just seen and heard it in person that night. Henry looked at me, then did a double take when he realized that I was legitimately sobbing and not just pretending which I guess is what he initially assumed. My face was soaked with tears.
It’s amazing how someone can fuck up as much as Jonny, yet his fans are so forgiving, time and time again. No matter where he was on the stage, the crowd shuffled after him, a sea of arms outstretched, ebbing and flowing beneath a brilliant full-faced moon. The kid has some kind of charisma, and apparently enough of it to cancel out his douche factor, because anytime I see him on stage I find that my heart is softening like Ben and Jerry’s in August and I’m falling in love all over again.
It’s sadomasochism. Because I know he’s going to fuck up again, do something stupid to make me lose that respect which makes it so hard for me to continue appreciating someone’s music. But then he’s going to sing some fucking siren song and pull me right back into the thick of it with needles and hooks in my skin. And it feels so fucking good.