So there I was in my local coffee shop, trying to psyche myself up to ask one of the baristas if she would like to go to the And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of The Dead (only thing more annoying than having to type that name is having to say it) gig with me. Problem was, I wasn’t sure if Will had set up a date for me or not. Things haven’t been the same between us since I pawned his DV cam to buy myself a ticket to see Rob Zombie. I have since learned that DV cams are worth quite a bit more than the £33 I got for it and I had to sell my body to medical science – after trying unsuccessfully to sell it on the streets – to get the bloody thing back. I’m glad I did though. Frankly I had grown tired of checking Cara Cowan’s MySpace page every day and finding no updates, so the new In Stores Now featuring The Salt Flats provided some much needed new… material.
[Editor's Note: It is truly amazing what Ian can get away with saying about people he could so easily bump in to, safe in the knowledge that no one reads this shit.]
Anyway I sent Will a text asking if he had arranged a date. ‘Yeah’ was all his reply said. Downhearted, I gave the barista a shy smile and went back to reading Dita Von Teese’s book on fetish photography.
I decided not to get drunk at the gig since I had work the next day. And I have grown weary of the terrible, undefined shame that comes with every hangover. So I only had a couple of warm up whiskies before I headed out. I got lucky with the buses though, and ended up in Belfast way too early, so I went to The Kitchen for a pint. There was a smoking hot dame sitting at the bar by herself, so I did what Don Draper would do and positioned myself a few seats to the left so I could look at her cleavage reflected in the mirror behind the bar. A little while later her friends showed up and one of the silly bints ordered herself the wrong drink – unable to remember whether she liked sweet or dry Martini with her lemonade. The barman, knowing I am a filthy wino, gave me the drink she turned down for free, but I had to drain it in one because it was fucking repugnant. I finished off my pint and headed for Katy’s.
‘Jack Daniel’s, no ice please,’ I said to the purple haired barmaid. And she gave me a Jack Daniels with white lemonade. And ice. This has happened before – the loud bar environment coupled with my tendency to mumble sometimes makes ‘Jack Daniels, no ice’ sound like ‘Jack Daniels and white.’ I pine for a bar where I can order a ‘JD, neat’ but the only bar I have ever been able to do that in is The Northern Whig, and since having a whole fleet of incredibly professional (and natty, I must say) bartenders doesn’t make up for having a clientèle made up exclusively of wankers, I’ll stick to the places that play AC/DC and have barmaids with purple hair. Anyway, that made two weak ass white lemonade mixers in one night, neither of which I wanted, so I decided to stick to beer for the rest of the night to save any more confusion.
I had completely forgotten about the whole date thing until I noticed someone standing close to my table, trying to make eye contact with me. When I looked up I was gripped by a fierce testicular nausea, when I realised I couldn’t figure determine if it was a dame that looked like a ten year old boy or a dude that looked like a lesbian. Play it cool, I thought.
‘Ian?’ it said.
‘Oh thank God,’ it said, breathing a sigh of relief. ‘I would have been so embarrassed if you were the wrong person.’
I laughed nervously. The name! The name will give it away!
‘What’s your name?’
‘Oh sorry, I’m Sam.’ Damn it! Think quick…
‘Have a seat. What would you like to drink?’
‘Oh, I’ll have a Corona, thanks.’
Ha! Settled. Definitely a dame. Which was lucky because I was kinda digging the whole short hair look.
At the bar I immediately broke my beer only rule, decided work could go fuck itself and slammed back a whiskey to put some fire in my belly and hopefully take the sting out of the small talk.
‘So what do you do?’ I asked.
‘I’m in my final year of uni.’
‘Oh, what are you studying?’
‘I do Gender Studies.’
‘No shit,’ I said, thinking what an incredibly convenient piece of anecdotal trivia I could use to flesh out my article. And so it went, until it was time to go in to The Limelight.
I was gripped by blind panic for a full thirty seconds when, at the door, I claimed I should be on the list and the girl couldn’t find my name. This is another problem I face in life – more often even than the Jack and white one – caused by my inability to say my own second name. This problem sometimes brings me to add clues, such as ‘Shearer, like the footballer,’ which makes me sound like a wanker, or ‘Shearer, like a sheep shearer,’ which makes me sound like a fucking lunatic. Finally, and without the need for clues, she found my name and let us in. My nervous hunch immediately transformed into a smug swagger, as if I had just been allowed into the VIP suite at a Kid Rock gig accompanied by three strippers. The support act were already on but the place was still relatively empty, so we got a good table in a nice dark corner.
‘This is a good spot!’ I shouted.
‘Yeah, wanna have sex?’
‘WHAT!?’ I screamed.
Yelling in my ear, ‘Do you want a Becks?’
‘Oh…’ I said, incredibly disappointed. ‘Yeah, thanks.’
I have not been able to find out who the support act were, and I really wanted to because they were fucking excellent. I even went to askjeeves.com and tried asking ‘Who were the support at at the And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of The Dead gig in Belfast?’ but it won’t let you ask a question that long. Fucking stupid band name. Anyway, in a world full of indie pricks who think ‘jun jun jun jun’ is a riff it was awesome to see a band that still knows how to play a proper goddamn guitar lick. I’d love to tell you who these guys were so you could look out for them, but if you know of a search engine more powerful than Ask Jeeves I’d like to bloody hear it! During the gig some dude came up and asked if he could take a picture of us for some godforsaken magazine.
‘Absolutely not!’ I yelled, and he went away. The confrontation put me on edge though, so I bought four beers and tried giving him the stink eye every time he lit up the room with his gigantic goddamn flash, but I don’t think he noticed.
And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of The Dead play fucking loud. In fact this might be the only time when even my wildly exaggerated account of events can’t quite convey the true magnitude of reality. They were so loud my beer – which was on a table near the back – was rippling like there was a fucking Tyrannosaurus disco next door.
[Editor's Note: Worst simile ever.]
It was so loud I was genuinely concerned about the possibility of shitting myself. In short, it was balls out magnificent. I didn’t know much about them before the show and I admit, I was expecting something quite generic. What I got was one of the most original sounds I have ever heard – a sort of alternative, industrial, metallised-punk played like they were road testing Motorhead’s amp stack. I gave myself over to it and, despite the sensation that the throbbing bass was going to throw my heartbeat out of rhythm, I loved every second. Sam, it seemed, did not.
‘Got something in my shoe,’ she said, getting up.
‘WHAT!?’ I screamed.
‘Going to the loo,’ she yelled back, and I checked out her ass as she left. I toasted the sight with a swig of beer and went back to headbanging.
She was gone a long time, and I noted that even tomboy chicks take fucking ages in the can. When she came back she was talking to some prick. They hugged briefly and he shot me a shit eating grin before pissing off. When Sam sat down her face was all screwed up which, being an expert in female psychology, I knew meant she wasn’t having a good time.
‘Are you okay?’ I asked.
‘Yeah, it’s just the taste of cum is making me feel sick.’
Yelling in my ear, ‘The bass drum, it’s making me feel sick.’
‘Oh… Yeah, me too. It’s fucking awesome!’ And that’s all we said to each other until the gig was over and we were outside.
I was drunker than I first realised and all I could hear was a high pitched whirring.
‘Listen!’ I screamed, inches from her face, ‘This was far too loud for a first date. How about we just get a coffee some time?’ I couldn’t make out what she said, but she was nodding so I took it an an affirmative. ‘Bring it in,’ I said, holding my arms out for a reassuring hug. And there, with Sam’s considerable package nestling lovingly with my own, I realised I had made a terrible mistake.
*Update: My sources tell me that the support band was Desert Hearts. Check ‘em out, they are the balls.