The Way and Light of New Rock: part one (a “review” of the 4/13/10 show at the Hi-Dive)

[Editor’s note: More stuff from last year.]

I probably shouldn’t write these things when I’m in a foul mood. Problem: I tend to be in a foul mood more often than not.

An explanation is in order. I’ve been having a recurring series of dreams off and on (mostly on) for the past month and a half. They tend to follow the same pattern, with subtle differences each night: I’m either back in my old high school or my old job, sometimes both of them are in the same building. I attend classes that I have never taken before, not done the assignments for and in some cases, don’t even know where they are in the building. My goal here is not to learn, though. I keep my eyes open, as I am looking for someone.

The imaginary classes let out and I rush to my store. I always have to sneak in, since I no longer work here and there’s no way any of the managers would let me in. The person I’m looking for is always here, constantly moving from place to place. This person in question is a friend of mine who I recently had a falling out with (in reality, not a dream). We had been pretty close for a good three years before she suddenly had a change of heart and decided that she didn’t want to be my friend anymore. No reason was ever given as to why she suddenly vanished from my life, which is probably why I look for her here. Every night, I manage to find her just as she’s walking into her office and I always follow her. No matter how much I wave my arms around and yell out her name, “ELIDA! ELIDA! ELIDA!” She never looks up at me. Sometimes she’ll get up and walk away from me, moving at a speed no normal human could ever hope to achieve.

Then I wake up. Grouchy. Angry. Frustrated. It is how I start my day nowadays. The dreams are always so vivid as to be real. Lately they’ve even become somewhat lucid, allowing me to control some of the events, at least until the end. As mad as I am about our friendship ending, I’m even angrier at Elida [XXXXX] for this horrible bullshit series of dreams (I’m too old to use the term, “nightmare,” so I won’t).

The previous paragraphs were both an explanation and a justification for my previous diatribe that made me sound like a bitter old man. I’m not such a foul, elitist prick like I make myself sound.


Luckily for me, this is not an article about The Alan Baird Project, a band surrounded by extreme abuses of the word “talent.” I won’t have to suffer through retarded teenagers trying too hard or “if the Foo Fighters and the Sex Pistols beat the crap out of Journey.” No, this time things will be different.

I had received an invitation to a show at the Hi-Dive (oh boy, I thought, the Hi-Dive again). There would be three bands: The May Kit, Old Radio and A Weather. Eagle eyed readers may notice a link on the right sidebar underneath “friends” that leads you to the May Kit’s MySpace page. Uh oh! Will James’ personal bias shine through yet again!? Sort of? Admission: The May Kit is actually a one-man act, a fellow by the name of Max Winne and much like Alan Baird, I’ve known Max since my days in high school who I’ve only recently come back into contact with. Unlike my last two pieces of work, though, I won’t end up saying something like, “THE MAY KIT WERE THE ONLY GOOD ONES THERE YOU ALL SUCK SUCK SUCK etc etc.” I had been promised a good concert overall. I would find that I would not be disappointed.

I met Max outside the venue. With long hair, a thick beard and surrounded by cigarette smoke, he definitely looked the part of a rock star. Max knew and understood my trepidation coming here. Two days prior, the both of us had seen The Alan Baird Project perform at Larimer Lounge (now the worst dive in Denver, beating out the Hard Rock “pay more for a shot of vodka than you would a copy of After Burner Climax” Cafe), which brought along its own horrors: a group of forty year old rock and roll ghouls and their laughable attempts at hardcore music and Mr. Right, the most obnoxious group of assholes I’ve ever had the displeasure to hear or see. Decked out in the ultimate in hipster wear; dress shirts, ties, thick rimmed glasses, Mr. Right would be sure to remind you before, after and probably during each song, most of which were, “dedicated to our brothers and sisters serving overseas,” that they were Mr. Right and to check them out on Twitter. Half an hour of my life went by listening to barely-reformed high school kids crank out generic bullshit and remind me that, “once again, we’re Mr. Right and you can check us out on Twitter: mrrightband.” Here’s your Twitter account, Mr. Right. All three wonderful entries. Now please shut the hell up.

My eye becoming even more jaundiced at the lack of quality I was exposing myself to, I was holding Max to his claim of, “only playing with good bands.” Otherwise I was worried I would have a Fred Sanford-esque “big one” and end up writing concert reviews that devolve into nothing more than a reflection of my own vanity and hate-ridden rants directed at people whom I’ve had to pay money to see. Thankfully that hasn’t happened yet.

I waited for Max to finish his cigarette (I don’t smoke, you see) before we went back into the Hi-Dive. It hadn’t changed an iota since my last appearance. It still had that wonderful lighting more reminiscent of a cave full of bats than a place to listen to music and chat up dumb scene kids for sex. The bathrooms were still just fronts for anonymous encounters. One improvement I did notice though, was that the shot glasses I ordered had more liquor in them than last time, even moreso compared to the Larimer Lounge, which felt like drinking the last remaining ring of backwash from a can of Sprite. It didn’t take much time or effort to loosen up in the chemical sense.

The show began, and Max was up first. Armed with an acoustic guitar, Max captivated the small house with a sweet melody and a soft voice that defied his outward, rugged appearance. The set was, all things considered, pretty damned amazing and much better than I expected (not that I expected it to be bad or anything, as horrible as that sounds). For the first time in a long time, I was actually having a good time. I think everybody was. The usual cast of characters had arrived: the hangers-on, the tattoo artists, the musicians, the fashionista, even Alan showed up, looking like he had just crawled out of a dumpster, but he showed up nonetheless. A party was going to happen.

Max had finished his performance. Several hours and several drinks later, he would ask me what I thought of his act. My response was simple, albeit slurred: “Man, that was so fuckin’ good! I loved it!” Before then, though, there were still two more bands who needed to play and there were still opportunities for my mean and overly critical eye to have its buttons pressed.

I heard Old Radio and A Weather perform. Like my experience with Max, I was not left feeling as though I had wasted my time. Coming to these sometimes makes me wonder why I bother. After all, I could just as well become a hermit, staying indoors listening to obscure Shoegaze I downloaded off of the internet (or even better, buying my friends’ albums and listening to those instead) and spend hours at a time playing marathon sessions of Demon’s Souls. But, of course, I don’t. I’m not a complete asshole, and, despite it all, I do enjoy seeing my friends regardless of the price (both figurative and literal) I have to pay. I can’t describe music in any detail other than a vague “they were good/not good” and linking to a MySpace page, so I’ll leave you with this: if we had more bands like these, I would not be such a cynical fuckhead about Colorado’s local music scene. I absolutely loved them, and would give them my highest possible recommendation. It should also go without saying that I would highly recommend Max as well.

I had reason to believe that a post-show party would take place. I was not wrong on this. We had all met up a pool hall called Tablesteaks, the same place I met my half-sister for the first time. The poor girl wanted to finally meet her father. Unfortunately for her, she had no idea that he was a heartless piece of shit who wanted nothing to do with her (or me, for that matter). I only wish I could have had the same treatment. My skill at Billiards had not diminished in the several year hiatus I took from the game; I suppose it’s no different than riding a bike or tying my shoes. Our waitress was a tragic figure with proportions that matched that of a SUPER KAWAII~ anime mascot and equipped with ill-intentions. Said ill-intentions involved overcharging for their terrible food and cheap beer, taking a Goddamned eternity to even provide said goods in a nearly empty hall while presenting a snooty, know it all attitude. These things are most certainly not SUGOI~ Ms. Anime! Despite that snag, I had an excellent time.

That night, something changed. I was expecting the same dream again, of searching for a lost loved one, only to lose them again. Instead, my dream involved an old co-worker behind the wheel of a monster truck, attempting to flatten my car. I woke up the next morning with a laugh. It was funny. It also gave me a small glimmer of hope that things would be different, that I wouldn’t allow myself to be controlled by events in the past shaping my present and my future. Maybe then I could move on.

I’ve been keeping my fingers crossed.

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