I had arrived at the Riot Room about 30 minutes prior. Clay Hughes and Deuce Fontaine were finishing up a fine set of slick Southern R&B inside when I headed out the back door with my beer and my pen in the hopes of finding a seat. All the seats were open. The bartender outside kept doing that move where he'd let a song play for about a minute and a half and then switch it to another one.
At 8:51 p.m., I noticed Jody Hendrix, Bob Lyons and Tripp Kirby from Them Damned Young Livers gathered by the corner of the bar. I assumed they were there to check out thePhantom* because thePhantom* raps Wednesday nights at Club 906 in Liberty, where Hendrix books shows. Also in their entourage was Kirby's girlfriend, who just gave birth to a baby boy named Clarence within the last two weeks. (Facebook is a wonderful resource.) She was drinking a can of PBR and wearing a zebra-printed dress.
At 9:05 p.m., thePhantom* hypeman (and son of Mayor Sly James) Kyle James came sauntering through the patio area in a red tank top. He seemed in no great hurry.
“So how's Kemet doing out in Liberty?” I asked Hendrix. He said great. Club 906 kicks ass. I asked if there is a Motel 6 or a Best Western or some shit like that so when I make the trek to tie one in Liberty, I don't have to drive back to Waldo. By 9:45 p.m., it was clear that there would be no set from thePhantom*. Vague technical difficulties; I never really got a good answer on why, but Soul Servers had to go on at 10 p.m.
“So thePhantom* is getting skipped?” I asked one of our Showcase staffers.
“Pretty much. We can't throw the whole schedule off,” she said. I went back inside to hear Radkey.
Because they are young and don't care, Darrion and Isaiah introduce songs with simple explanations like, “This next song is called 'Little Man.' It's about our grandpa on our mom's side. He's a dick.” Then they hit you with good hooks and tight jams. I thought about Queens of the Stone Age for a minute. No gimmicks, no bullshit. I felt like I was being delivered honest quality. The audience loved them, and I was totally happy standing there next to the cigarette machine. Around this time, I spotted Mitch Rich from the Rich Boys and other past punk-rock projects. I think he looks just like Kalon McMahon of Bachelorette and Bachelor Pad fame, but I digress.
After a short break, Cherokee Rock Rifle took the stage. I had been fortunate enough to stand in a fairly airy spot until that time. I moved up front and got the full effect of the Riot Room heat factor. Moisture began to move through all of my pores. The room smelled faintly of cats.
I've got a special place in my heart for CCR. They play this hard, driving rock. I want to call it bluesy, psychedelic rock, but it's not just that. It's dark and it cuts. You could have really good sex to this music if the factors were optimum. Dutch, the frontman, has a howling voice, slithery stage presence, and occasionally trots out some sweet tambourine skills. He also says things that make you think, “Aww, I wanna have a beer with this guy.”
I turned to my friend Leigh. “Shots and then we're bouncin'.”
She nodded. “You're speaking my language.”
Them Damned Young Livers took the stage to a smallish crowd, maybe 40 people. The room was loud and echoey. There was also a black-vinyl sheath up over the back of the stage, giving it the look of a roller-skating rink. It felt kind of old-timey, but I think that suits TDYL.
The band has undergone a personnel change since I last saw it — new bass player. The new guy has long hair but sounds just as good. The last line of their first song was Now she's fuckin' my cousin Pete.... TDYL has a loyal following, due at least in part to Jody Hendrix's charismatic personality. He kept asking for beers, and people gave them to him. He'd take a drink and then throw it up toward the ceiling.
“I don't even know what time it is or how many songs we have left,” Hendrix said at 12:51 a.m. A few minutes later, he said, “Fuck organized religion!” Then there was chanting of “Angels, Devils, Police.” The face of the crimped-hair lady fell in her boyfriend's crotch. Things were getting weird. Where was everyone? Probably watching HOD and sweating. And stinking.
The point in the night where I should probably just go home had arrived. But I didn't go home. I texted some friends, “Come watch metal with me.” No takers. The men of At the Left Hand of God kept giving the soundman the thumbs-up. Shit was about to get loud.
I'd already quit drinking by this time. Much of the crowd cleared out, but a fresh one came in, bigger than the one before it. (At the Left Hand of God refers to itself as “ATLHOG,” pronounced “at-uhl-hog.”) I had to quit yawning and put my party face back on.
Frontman Brett Carter apologized for “having a few cocktails” and promised a short and sweet set. They started up. The two guitarists and the bass player stood still as Carter thrashed about the stage, all metalhead crazy. The crowd loved it. One dude ran around the periphery of the crowd with one hand raised in a devil horn while doing high kicks. A man moved quickly from behind me, slammed half of a beer down on the table and bounded into the crowd. A dude holding his girlfriend's purse was rocking out by the side of the stage. Crimped-hair lady's head banged. Everyone in the crowd stood very close together despite all the open space around them.
“Don't take yer fuckin' foot off the gas yet, guys!” Carter yelled. “This last one is for all the zombie-lovin' motherfuckers out there!”
I had noticed a man in a wheelchair earlier when TDYL was onstage. He looked really excited, like he wanted to jump up and dance. Dude must have loved zombies because he just wheeled himself directly into the pit, barreling into two surprised-looking guys. Pretty soon, someone grabbed hold of one of the handles of the wheelchair and started spinning him in circles. Holy shit. It was 2 a.m. That's what I call a night out.