Dinosaur in Trouble: proudly serving Twin Cities music geeks

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Shellac Keeps Me Awake at Night

I know; this blog has been very quiet recently. I’m sorry. But I have a valid excuse. My life has become consumed by my student teaching responsibilities. I’ve been having fun hanging out in the middle school, but I’ve also had to make a lot of sacrifices.

The biggest sacrifice of them all: I can no longer go to shows whenever I please. This has never been an issue before (except when I’ve been completely broke). I never had to think twice about staying out until 2:00 am. It was sufficient to be half-awake throughout college and any job that I might have had. But these days, I definitely need a full night’s sleep. If I don’t have all my wits about me, my sixth graders will walk all over me.

I’m still learning that it won’t be the end of the world if I miss out on a few important shows. It breaks my heart, though. I’ve had to skip so many great shows these past few weeks. It’s just not fair!

For the sake of my sanity, I figured it’d be ok if I allowed myself one show per week (weekends don’t count). I deserve it, don’t I? Well, that’s what I told myself as I skipped out on lesson planning and headed down to First Avenue for the Shellac show last Wednesday. Was it worth it? Of course it was. Yeah, I was exhausted the next day, but at least I didn’t feel unhealthy thanks to the smoking ban.

Speaking of the smoking ban, Wednesday was the first time I’ve been in the mainroom since the ban was initiated. I knew things would seem different, but I did not expect that I’d barely be able to recognize the place! I was shocked – not by the smell of things or the fact that I was able to comfortably breathe, but by the way the inside of the club looked. Since there was no smoke in the air, the stage lights seemed very bright. I actually noticed that there was some color to First Avenue (there’s some red mixed in with the black). For a second, I thought I was in some fancy, high-class concert hall. Everything seemed so clear and clean.

I’ve seen Arcwelder (the opening band) before, but never like this. The way the bright and colorful lights clearly illuminated the band made for a very surreal experience. It was the closest I’ve seen First Avenue looking as it did in Purple Rain. I thought for sure that Arcwelder was opening for Prince circa 1984. Well, they’re not that old. But close. After noticing some young crowd members enthusiastically singing along to their songs, Arcwelder’s drummer commented, “Looks like some of you have been studying your grandparents’ vinyl collection!” Old or not, shiny lights or not, Arcwelder can still rock with the best of them.

The decision to blow off my school duties for the night was not a difficult one to make. When Steve Albini, Bob Weston, and local legend/beauty salon owner, Todd Trainer (Rifle Sport, Brick Layer Cake, Breaking Circus) are playing on the same stage, you don’t miss it. I know I would never miss it, even though I’ve always kinda been afraid of Steve Albini. I always fear that he’s going to harshly criticize me, and I’ll lose all the indie cred that I’ve spent years building up. It’s probably an irrational fear; he’s always been a close ally of the Twin Cities music scene. Maybe my fear of Albini is actually the manifestation of some repressed personal insecurities. I sometimes see myself in him – but only in terms of his indie ethics and music taste. But after the show, my friend told me that Albini reminds her of me (“because he’s a skinny, nerdy-looking guy”). I had to convince her (or was I trying to convince myself?) that I’m not nearly as dark as him. I mean, Big Black’s Atomizer was one of the best albums to come out of the 80’s, but sheesh, that stuff is bleak. And I would never name a band Rapeman. What was he thinking!?

Fortunately, I was able to overcome my fear and enjoy a great performance by Shellac. I even enjoyed Albini’s a cappella poems/rants. The show was captivating enough that I was able to ignore the messed-up shirtless guy standing next to me who would yell out all the wrong song lyrics when everyone else was silent.

So, I’m allowed one show per week. Next week is going to be tough. Something tells me that I’m going to have to bend the rules a bit (Nomeansno and The Wedding Present in the same week – bad news).