After dropping five at the door, Glenn, Art, and I walk up to the bar and grab a couple of domestics to sip on. Tonight is a strange night. One of those nights where things start out simple and pleasant and shift negatively to something strange and unwanted. It’s as if the eeriness of the weather outside creeps in at an unknown time to alter the social climate from genteel calmness to drunkard balminess, the full moon and rock n’ roll work against the initially calm temperament of tonight’s patrons. What begins as a sunny day at the beach turns into a monsoon of moral decapitation and repugnant drunkenness, that crazy ex-girlfriend storms in with sentimental rains and acerbic, vociferous tones of unpredictable hostility, leaving an aftermath for the observer to think only one thing, “What the F*** just happened?”

Glenn, Art, and I sip our suds in the calm of the early evening, walk towards the stage, and take in a beautiful rendition of Adele’s “Hello.” Kelly Wild, the lead vocalist and keyboardist, sings with the power of Janis Joplin—her big-bodied frame supporting a decibel range testing the soundman’s compressors. “Hello from the other side!” Kelly belts into the fearful microphone as the speakers brace for impact. The sound produced by her voice force my eyes open, my back to straighten, Goosebumps to rise out of my skin, and my mind to ask, “From what other side Kelly?” Drums enter calm and powerful, the bass reinforces, and the guitar touches lightly on the poignant sounds of another 21st century ballad.

With the arrangement of sounds stacking up, Kelly’s voice brightens in the support behind her. Her hair, curly and jet-black, blows back whimsically as a box fan disperses fake smoke offstage and into the crowd. “I wonder if pyrotechnics beyond a smoke machine and corny stage lights will ever initiate,” I think. “Then again, this is a cover band playing a bar in O’Fallon, MO, and, therefore, all special effects are limited.” Regardless, the now drunker patrons are looking in awe as if they have never seen fake smoke highlighted by crossbar lights—crossbar lights limited in both projection and color spectrum. But the special, or, rather, limited effects do their job of scintillating tonight’s crowd as the second of three sets comes to a close, and the evening calm turns stormy.

Let the pandemonium begin.

Off to the side our table, I see familiar faces and recognize two flamboyant figures. I say flamboyant because they are gay both in the happy sense and, yes, they are actors and, well, they’re not famous actors, just Real-Hollywood types; they’re homosexuals and one of them actually lives in Los Angeles now.  My newfound friends are ordering shots and having a hoot n nanny as I cross their paths and catch up with one of my old college mates.

“Hey, I know you!” Josh says.

“Yea, you were that obnoxious-theatre major and I the quiet musician doing summer musicals back in the day (8 years ago),” I recall with a touch of raillery.

“Oh… My… God! Yes! You played percussion in the pit while us thespians manned the stage!”

So this back and forth goes on for some time and I’m initially happy to encounter Josh and my old theatre friends. Until, he starts hitting on me and I’m having trouble—as I always do—finding space in such conversations to reveal my heterosexuality. The man standing in front of me is tall, podgy, bearded, bear-like, and trying to turn me into his voluptuous cub.

Problem: I love being around thespians of all types for their outgoing, high-energy, comical, and, at times, ridiculous hilarity. However, this droll turns dreary as Josh asks me to be his “facebook” friend and commences hitting on me.  I then  look at my beer and thank the heavens that  my domestic has run dry.  So I casually exit the imbroglio for a much needed respite to refill my sorrow-filled bottle with something happier. As if Trixie Delight senses the wryness in my nerves, Kelly begins shouting, “You need coolin’, baby I’m not foolin.” And I stand in my happy lonesome at the bar with a fresh beer in hand and soak in the sonorities of Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love.”

Unfortunately, my feet only briefly pulled out of the mire of the previous, awkward social encounter, Glenn calls me over to meet an old friend of his. I say unfortunately because Chris (Matt’s friend) has a penchant for tequila and a disposition like a monkey poking you in the ear while you’re trying to focus on something important, like a little-Stewey child reciting, “Mom… mom… mom… mommy… mama…” until you finally scream, “What!” Chris is the little pug dog yapping at you as you run by the yard for an evening jog and, as a result, you have to pick up the pace to avoid the bite of annoyance on your already-worn-out calves.

“Am I being cynical?” I ask myself. Perhaps, but often times cynicism filters out truth and my question is quickly answered as the malicious, martial man next to me speaks vociferous annoyances, raps his arm around my neck, flexes his muscles tightly around my Adam’s Apple, and screams in my ear, “Wanna a shot of tequila old buddy?”

“What dimension of unwanted pandemonium is this?” I think to myself and respond with a resounding, “No!”

And the pugnacious pug now in front of me stares wide-eyed for a few brief seconds before rolling his marbles to the back of his head and, in his supreme ignorance, shouts to the poor waitress navigating her way through the clutter of drunkenness, “A rounda tequila shots for the boys!” After thanking my bladder for providing me with an escape plan, I make my skirmish to the bathroom while thinking, “I don’t have a whole lotta love for this place right now.”

Exiting the bathroom, I make my way to the dance floor filled with the crossbar lights and chalk-filled smoke as the band counts off to start playing The Killers “Somebody Told Me.”

“Such a tricky song to start off,” I observe. The synth enters in its own free space leaving time and rhythmic pulse absent. Seemingly out of nowhere, the drummer clicks a quick four with his sticks and off the band goes into the first verse. “Breakin’ my back just to know your name,” comes the first lyric and now I’m pumping my fist while sipping a fresh cold one. Trixie Delight once again calms my nerves and I can focus on the music pouring through of the PA. Sadly, my bliss quickly ends as I turn my back to look through the crowd and see Chris waving his gorilla arms at me to come over; the shots of death have arrived. So I appease the orangutan of a man by consuming death before squirming my way back to the dance floor through the foliage of drunkards—me soon becoming a part of the forest. And I catch the closing tunes with much delight before the evening is ruined by a selfish inquiry.

“Oh shit, here he comes out of the foliage,” I think to myself. “Next week I’m going to a show in the city, with a girl, away from friends, for the sanctity of music and for the sake of this blog.”  Josh re-enters: “Hey, let me get your number…”

-Layton (5/1/2016)

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