The crowd never filled more than half of the Brick's capacity, but the people who were there were musicians. Some came to see Season to Risk's Steve Tulipana make his stage debut as the second guitarist for Onward Crispin Glover. Several cozied up with fledgling zine publisher John Bersuch in hopes of securing future coverage. Others thanked him for including their acts in the first issue of DanderCroft, set to appear in early August. (This show was a benefit for that mag's production costs.) And a few opportunists seized the moment for self-promotion. A member of TJ Dovebelly handed out tiny fliers enclosed in capsules, while Reynolds shilled for his Pitch Music Awards-nominated band with "Vote Blow" stickers.
One PBR-addled spectator was oblivious to all of these motivations -- and to everything else. During OCG's set, which showcased the group's propulsive new material and Tulipana's swagger, this guy staggered in front of the stage with his arms dangling jointlessly. Occasionally, he'd point in the direction of the band before starting another freestyle fumble across the floor. OCG encouraged his enthusiasm by dedicating a song to him. As well it should have -- he was the only indication of the room's pulse. "These guys, pretty good," he said later.
Mr. Fancy Feet didn't stick around for Minds Under Cover. But then again, he didn't know that Bersuch, that band's singer, was the guest of honor. After former Onozine writer Michelle Cagle, much more conscious of Bersuch's identity, asked him about DanderCroft freelancing opportunities, the noticeably nervous frontman put her to work duplicating set lists for the six-member group. She did so with the efficiency of Bart Simpson hammering out chalkboard sentences. Judging by the results, MUC's set promised to be wacky, naughty or both: Her first entry was "1) Crotch."
Unfortunately, Minds Under Cover offered less oddball entertainment value than its madcap song titles and colorfully costumed lineup promised. Its self-conscious quirkiness failed to overcome unwelcome roots-rock arrangements and a tune that sounded like "Bennie and the Jets" in dirge form. Its sax player bloated his cheeks noiselessly for a while, as if attempting to use a straw to blow bubbles in an empty cup, then started drowning out Bersuch's vocals by overlapping his melody lines. And the band's prized possession, a marvelous machine incorporating an alarm clock and an electric eggbeater, didn't get the prime placement it deserved. As a result, the crowd faded. At one point, a female fan in a mesh shirt slumped to the floor in protest, which is a bad sign, because people in mesh shirts come to rock.
Though Bersuch will presumably emphasize brevity as an editor, he had to stretch MUC's stage time because Overstep bassist Ben Ruth was either playing an early-evening gig or making sure his sideburns looked just so. Maybe a little bit of column A, a little bit of column B. Either way, Overstep didn't go on until 1 a.m., which meant MUC had to pad its set with a false-start "Faith" cover (Limp Bizkit soiled this one permanently, guys; let it be) and bewildering banter.
Overstep sparked some life in the hibernating house, inspiring an all-girl game of grab-ass near the stage. Now this is what many of the guys in the crowd wanted -- big, loud guitars and handsy hotties. Hoots of approval ensued, and the increasingly animated band seemed to thrive on the raucous reinforcement.
There was plenty of back-patting and positive feedback throughout the night. There was also an audience that would have been almost nonexistent if every musician had been required to leave.