No doubt most of you will already know what this will be about anyway, so I wont bother with building it up...much. Heh.
The Calabrese show at Kung Fu Necktie.
The night before, on Friday, I had what could best be described as pre-Christmas jitters. That feeling you get on Christmas eve where you start to feel happy for no reason and your insides feel like they're over caffeinated. Was it really tomorrow? That one special night out of the year? The show I had been waiting most of 2012 for? Gregorian calenders, from what I know, are always truthful to a fault, but I had checked it several times anyway.
That night, I couldn't sleep. I thought about so many things. What time should we leave? What was I going to wear? What could I possibly say to any of them? I ran over scenarios in my mind, most of which I knew was unlikely. And almost every time, regardless of how I presented it to myself, and regardless of how I tried to approach it from a civil, non-hyped fangirl point of view, I verbally face planted every time. I squee'd. I derp'ed.
I fell into sessions of light, broken sleep. I had a dream about watching a group of performers in the ocean, with a large group of people, standing on the thick frozen banks along the water. I was one of just a couple of people who saw the ice melting behind us and swam to shore. The rest just carried on, unaware that they were drifting away. Almost normal, by my standards.
Morning came, and I lightly chastised myself for getting so worked up. I still ran through fictitious situations in my head though, and still I was degrading into derpiness. Maybe I could think better after breakfast and tea...
As the rest of the day went on, and even after Ivy had left with my parents, I couldn't mentally get my act together. So, I did the next best thing...I put on a facade of control. I spritzed on my vanilla noir body spray and my blueberry muffin perfume, made my eyes sparkle and pinned my blue bandanna on as straight as I could. What were the odds I would even get to see any of them before the show, anyway? They've been doing a bunch of shows, so, they're probably going to be hanging out in the back, or taking a nap in the van, right?
Joe comes home, and we leave a short while later. In the car, he teases me a little.
"So...what are you going to say to them?"
"You don't have anything you want to ask them?"
"I do! I...uh...stuff..."
"...Are you squeeing?"
I was. I totally was. You can imagine that last part as being said by a 7th grader when asked if they like someone, and clearly they do.
The venue itself was on the border of Fishtown in Philadelphia, so thankfully we wouldn't have to pay any sort of crazy parking prices like we would have if they were playing somewhere like the Troc. We pull up, and Joe starts looking for a spot when...
"Oh, look. Bobby's outside."
"Yeah...he's standing right there."
And sure enough, he was. With all the other smokers outside.
I jump around like an idiot in my head, clapping, grinning. Then, I immediately feel embarrassed. There's no way I'm cool enough to say anything to him. There's like 10 people around, all of them seemingly chatting it up. Maybe if I can just get inside, I can relax a little...
We park about a block or two away. I get out of the car and suddenly come to the realization that I don't look like I belong there...at all. Guys in leather, chicks in strappy things and dresses, all of them in black. And here I was with a tan sparkle hoodie and a bright blue cardigan with a Hello Kitty tee. Not to mention the blue jeans and white sneakers, and the aforementioned bandanna. I looked like I should of been going to a pottery class.
I swallow and take a deep breath as I pull the tickets out of my bag. I just have to get inside. I can not derp out. Not here. Not now. Not in front of the small mob outside. Not in front of Bobby.
I walk in Joe's shadow. I smile. As we turn the corner, everyone out front seems to go quiet for a moment. There's a heartbeat of silence as he opens the door. Already I feel as if I've made a bad impression, without so much as having said a word. I keep smiling.
"Hey guys. I know you're both 21, but I gotta see your IDs just in case." says the ticket guy inside.
We flash our cards and he 'checks' our wrists and lets us inside.
The place itself was actually a little bit smaller than I thought it would be. The decor was unique and it was easy to tell which door to go into if you had to use the bathroom. (Literally, "Boobs" and "Balls".)
I find a chair and take a quick seat. I'm actually just as mis-matched here as I was outside, but, I try not to notice. There's nobody I care about anywhere near--
"Yeah. At the merch table. Oh, and there's Davey, too."
"You should go say hi."
"But he's right there."
"I know! But...uh...no."
I half-assedly ask about getting a soda, as I try to melt into the furniture. Joe smirks as he shrugs his shoulders. I remind him I have a membership card that entitles me to discounts, should he want a tee shirt. This prompts him to go take a look.
I cross my legs and stare off into the random tchotchkes that adorn the place. I had been waiting so long to ask them the few questions I had, and now I'm stuck here, red-faced and paralyzed. Times like these, I wish for a lot in my head. I wish I was cute, I wish I was charismatic, I wish I was friends with someone who was friends with them. But mostly I wished one of them might say something to me first, as much as I knew that wasn't going to happen. Maybe what I should of wished for was for my spine to come back.
Moments later, Joe comes back, indecisive about getting something. We talk about the new Young American Mystic Cult of Horrors shirt design and agree that mine looks cooler. (Ha.) That's when the first band came on.
I stayed where I was for the first song. To be honest, I didn't expect much out of the opening acts, so I wasn't about to go rally around the stage just yet. Surprisingly though, Spinechain was entertaining. Joe and I got up for the second song and watched the rest of their set. Even picked up a free CD. Nice.
During all this, Davey and Jimmy walked by us about 4 or 5 times. Jimmy looked like he was masterminding...something. If I had to guess, he was probably doing a last minute checklist. Or scowling at someones incompetence and arranging for them to sleep with the fishes that night. They are Italian, after all. And Davey smelled like something Axe-ish, and I'm fairly sure I've come across it before. It was driving me nuts trying to pin the smell down though.
We hung around the same spot, waiting for the next act to come on. More people started showing up, and at long last, one other person who wasn't dressed to the nines in cool regalia walked by...in a navy sweatshirt. I still stuck out as the only person wearing color, though.
Then, Bobby sat at the bar right behind Joe, talking to whom I can only guess was a friend. And yes, I do mean right behind. If Joe flicked his head backward, he could of headbutted him.
I considered maybe saying something to him then, since it looked like an open opportunity to do so. But, then, I also considered that if he was hanging out with a friend, he probably wouldn't want to get interrupted by anything I had to say. And, really, what could I say that would excuse my rudeness like that? Unfortunately, the two girls that walked up to him a minute later didn't think the same thing.
The second group came on, and they were...eh...unique. If the pacing of the music itself didn't seem so spastic and sporadic, I think I would of liked them more. Though, they did make a few good jokes in between songs, so, it's not like I didn't enjoy them.
More people showed up then, and the place looked like it would get crowded soon enough.Oddly, it never got there though. Which, really, is a shame.
I watched with stolen glances and stares as Calabrese set their stage up. I had almost feared making eye contact with them, lest I turn into a pillar of salt or a weeping pool of goo. So, if I thought one of them might turn in my direction, I turned too, or, I focused my attention to the floor or the equipment. Yes, big ol' me is afraid of making eye contact with three guys who probably wouldn't recognize my face if they saw it twice. I am fully aware of my yellow actions.
But, really, can you blame me? This whole thing had been snowballing in my head for months, and I was trying so hard not to spaz out or squee myself into oblivion. It seems so silly, I know. Had this been anyone else, I would of had zero trouble strolling up to them and making a lame joke to break the ice. But my brain flat lined and my heart seized up at the mere sight of them.
A crowd started to gather around the stage. Davey and Jimmy disappeared, and Bobby, I think, went out for a last cigarette.
Should I try to get closer? The stage was only a foot or so off of the floor, which means I would be up in their proverbial grill if I did. Most of the crowd seemed like they were only 5'7" or so, meaning I could easily see over them anyway, so I stayed toward the back. They were just about 10 feet away, so it's not like I needed to be that close...did I?
Bobby brushed by Joe when he came back, leaving a faint wintergreen smell as he did. In a way, I was actually kind of jealous that I wasn't short and inconspicuous like he was so that I could at least have that subtle contact.
They assembled on stage. More people squirmed up as close as they could get, and lucky me had to deal with the two big visual blockades standing in front of me. The mohawk guy at least moved around a lot, so, I could tell he wouldn't be an issue. But the tree standing in front of me had his girlfriend with him, so that meant, as it usually does, that he was just going to stand there holding her the whole time.
I never understood that. She's not elderly, nor is she handicapped in any way but the guy will hold her like she is, all night, not moving. Or, better yet, the girlfriend who wants to get front and center with the band, but, has to have her boyfriend escort her out after two or three songs because people start dancing or making a circle. I'm guessing this happens all the time because people don't know how truly dumb it is. Or how it makes people like me, who can hold their own and then some, feel. But...I'm digressing now.
They checked the sound levels. They played with a switch or two. My stomach tensed in anticipation.
This was it. The stupid grin I had on my face since we walked in was now just a big, goofy smile. For a fleeting moment, I wondered if they would play my favorite songs. Not that I actually have any least favorites. They're all winners in my book. And, in all honesty, even if they had just played the same song all night, I would of been more than happy.
The first chord hits, and I feel my body start to move on it's own. Its kind of strange how my legs twitched back and forth, seemingly without command, and how my head started to bop along as if it was the natural thing to do. I try my hardest to hold back from doing anything completely dumb though.
The room comes alive, and mohawk guy starts moving around, along with the whole front section. People to the left and right of the stage are snapping pictures and grabbing video with their cameras. And people start singing. It takes me almost the whole song before I start to join in too. "Death Eternal" never sounded so damn good.
Jimmy comments on how we were a good crowd after another two songs. I strangely feel a twinge of pride when he said that, though, I'm sure it wasn't directed to the wallflowers in the back. It still made me happy.
Then, came the intros.
"On lead guitar...also known as the guitarist martial artist, the six string samurai, the master of the the Kama Sutra...self taught....Bobby Calabrese!"
(Insert the sacred donning of the headband and a lot of faux-fu.)
"On bass...also known as the Italian Tiger...Jimmy Calabrese!"
(Cue Tank! by the Seatbelts and a whole lot of photo posing. With sunglasses to boot.)
"And on drums...also known as Davey Calabrese....Davey Calabrese!"
(Star Wars Vader-esque music trails on as he dances about in a white Elvis mini cape.)
"Who wants some sweat?!" Davey then asks, wiping his now-wet face down with a Calabrese bandanna.
A girl in front reaches out and grabs it. Secretly, I debate on whether or not I should rob her later.
More music. More moving. More blissful ear blasting.
I keep singing. The whole night. I admittedly don't know all the lyrics to all of their songs, but I know good chunks of them. As I do, I keep thinking I keep catching Bobby or Jimmy's eye. I know its just pure paranoia, but I swing my head down every time I think it's happening. I'd die a little inside if I sang something wrong and they caught me.
At one point, Bobby very unstealthily creeps behind the amp in back of him and grabs the space helmet perched on top of it. He pops out from behind it a minute later, wielding his guitar as a ray gun, ready to fire. He lines a few of the guys up front off and shoots, the random discordant blasts 'killing' those they hit. Space Bob takes no prisoners.
The rest of the night goes by in a flash. They play for about an hour and a half, even covering "Halloween" by the Misfits.
But it's over way too fast for me. Didn't they just go on 10 minutes ago? What happened to the rest of the show? It cant be done already...
Like an addict, I needed more. Somehow.
The lights come on, and I turn back around to Joe. I try talking to him, making all sorts of stupid conversations just so I could stick around longer. I realize that it was now or never if I was going to say anything to them.
Apparently, that's what everyone else thought too. If I had thought they were popular before the show, now they were even more so. Lights from cameras and phones flashed behind me at a steady pace, as I tried to will myself to just do it already.
Part of me wished I'd had a drink or two for some liquid courage. Part of me was crumbling over missing my moment. The rest of me was just disgusted with the situation I had put myself in.
Joe looks over at me, his eyebrows raised as if he was waiting for me to answer an unsaid question.
"What are we doing?"
"Did you want to say hi to them? Jimmy and Bobby are right there."
"I uh....I cant. There's too many people..."
"There's like, 5 people over there."
"It's too many..."
We wait. I try making more dumb small talk. He starts to look slightly annoyed.
"Did...you want to leave?" I ask, unsure.
"Well, I have been up since 6:30. What are we doing?"
I turn around and look at my prospects. They're both packing up equipment from the stage now. The people that were there haven't left either.
"Do you want me to help you?"
"N-no! I....ugh...I cant. It's just....I..."
"Are you sure?"
I'm blowing it. I know it.
And for reasons that I could slap myself for.
"Well, I...at least...wanted to say hi to Davey...I don't see him though."
In reality, I knew I'd be just as slack jawed and dense in front of him as I would be in front of Jimmy and Bobby. The one thing I held on to that made me think it might go even minimally better is his personality. He might actually find my fangasiming entertaining, maybe even a little funny.
"He's over by the door."
"Yeah. Next to Papabrese."
I look over Joe's shoulder. Sure enough, he's there talking to a random girl. A cute one at that.
I take a breath and try to ready myself. Fight or flight had been pulsing throughout me since the night had started, and flight was faltering, if for just a spare few seconds. I dry swallowed. I bit my lower lip. I started walking.
This was going to happen.
This needed to happen.
My throat clenched as I got closer, my lungs working faster, and that giddy sick feeling snaked its way throughout my torso. He laughed, said something to the girl in front of him and hugged her. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a little envious.
I wormed my way past a few other people and stood next to him, waiting for him to finish whatever he was telling her before I waxed the idiot poetic. I held my breath. I waited.
And I timed it completely wrong.
He finished talking to the girl and turned, not even seeing me. Papabrese said something to him right after, and Davey nodded and left. Just like that.
I watched him walk toward the stage. As I did, I could feel my heart sink, and my face fill with color. What can I do now? I had that one chance, and now it was gone.
I had chances all night, really, and my own cowardice made sure that I kept my eyes down and ignored most of them. Try as it might, I was painfully aware of everything though. Every time they moved, anytime I was within an arms length of them, I knew. And I did nothing.
My shoulders slumped and I exhaled. I somehow felt tired then.
"Did you want anything?" I ask Joe, since we were already next to the oodles of merch. He turned to look one last time.
Papabrese was standing next to him, fixing things on the table. I put my hand in my purse to look for my membership card, just in case he saw something, and saw the lollipops I had brought along. Before I had left the apartment that evening, I thought it would of been cool to give the three of them something. And since I knew one of them had a sugar addiction, it seemed perfect.
I found my card and took out the candy as well.
"Hi! .." I say, catching Papabrese's attention," Uh...I'm a huge fan of your sons' music."
"Yeah, but, um...unfortunately, I'm too chickenshit to say anything to them."
I hand him the lollipops. He looks at them for a second before putting them in his pocket.
"I'll give these to them later. You should go tell them that, though."
"I uh...cant. Plus, they look kinda busy..."
"Nah. You should go talk to them."
He gestures in the general direction of the stage.
"Um...n-no. Plus we gotta go, anyway." I lie.
He lightly shrugs.
"Joe, did you want anything?" I ask, taking the focus off of me and my unrealistic fears.
He picks up a patch and a few buttons, and a neat circle sticker. Papabrese twists and takes a look at what he's got, and starts making a tally of how much it costs.
"Ah, you're making me turn now!"
I pop up from behind and show him my card right after giving the $6 total to Joe.
"Oh. $5 then. You should take her with you everywhere!"
We both chuckle as he looks at my card a second time.
"What number are you, again?"
"Oh. You're one of the lower numbers! That's good."
I smile at him and suddenly feel a little proud at that fact. I'm guessing since they advertise the club now, a lot more people have joined. Makes you wonder why none of them ever tried to figure out why a song like "Loveless God" goes on for 12 minutes or more when it actually ends at the 3 and a half mark.
I should also mention here that Joe decided to wear one of his Ex Dementia shirts to the show in the hopes that maybe one person might ask him about it. He figured nobody would know them if they're at a Calabrese show, but, there's nothing like free advertising, right?
Like to take a guess at who noticed?
"Ah...Ex Dementia? Is that like, a dimension that's passed?" Papabrese asks, jokingly.
They both laugh a little and Joe shakes his head. Before he could say more, I chime in with, "That's actually his band."
"Oh." he says, nodding slightly.
"Yeah, I'm not actually a founding member, though. Jeff Zornow, the guy who did one of the old tee shirt designs for you guys does all of our artwork."
Another person came up and started looking at the merch in that moment, making Papabrese go back to work and thus ending our mini conversation. Even in that short time, though, I could tell he was a good guy.
Eventually we step outside and start walking toward the car. The cold night air felt good on my cheeks, and the mostly quiet surrounding pointed out just how much I blew out my ears that night. It was worth it though. It was absolutely worth it. If there was a second show, even right after the one they had just played, I would of been there.
"Well, did you have fun?" Joe asked, sliding into the drivers seat.
"Yes!" I nearly shout.
And I did. Truly.
Even if I never got to express my nerdly boundless love for them.
As we drove home, I went over the whole thing in my head. I rationed that by not saying anything to them, I'm saving my dignity that would otherwise have been in a melted puddle by their boots. But then I also reasoned that perhaps that might have been the better choice to begin with. Seeing as how nobody else that I saw that night came anywhere close to that, I guess I'll never know.
It was awesome. It was wonderful. And yes, it was a little sad.
My only picture I was able to take all night came later, back at the apartment. Coincidentally, it's also my only souvenir, aside from the tickets.
As I rested my head on my pillow, sluggishly slipping into sleep, I sighed, hugging my pillow.
And that night, I dreamt of Calabrese.
There's always fanmail...right?
Until then. <3
Edit 12/10/12: I can't spell. Thanks, Sarah!