MONDAY, FEBRUARY 13, 2012|
Posted by: Dan Maxwell
'Here Comes A Regular' is written by an employee of Maxwell's in Hoboken, through the lens of his experiences working at a live music venue. His first introduction to his work comes from a Thurston Moore concert he worked on 2/3.
On Fridays I work the door. I've been doing it for a while and it's routine. I'm not a bouncer-- I'm the guy who needs to see the credit card you bought your tickets with. I'm the guy who will sell you a ticket. I'm the guy who is gonna chase you through the crowd if you don't pay. Most importantly, I will not put up with your nonsense. I'll kick you out if you mess around. I will not listen to your story about how you flew all the way in from Germany in the hopes of getting in (cool story, bro). I will drag you out the door in front of the whole bar to shame you from coming back. I take it seriously. It's my job and I'm good at it.
Typically the first band on a Friday night will go on around 9, which means the doors open around 8 or 8:30. I usually get there around 7. I say hello to the bartenders up front, and then head to the back room, I take care of some minimal setup, and begin to ease into the night. After that I hang for a bit and be present for anyone that might need to see me. Eventually the club manager arrives with "the box," which has the cash for the night and also the will call list. This night, Thurston Moore was playing. The show was sold out, so I knew there would be a lot of will call tickets, but also that there will be a lot of hard tickets as he is an older and more established artist and a lot of his fans are longtime concert goers-- not that that makes them any easier to deal with. We just like to try and anticipate the crowd to the closest degree possible.
Before opening doors, we make sure we get the bands' guest lists in order so we don't have to worry about them once we open. Once we have customers coming in things get backed up and it's difficult to track down bands to OK guests. We hammered it out early this night because we had one guy around 5 claiming to be "with the band." This, as I'm sure you can imagine, happens a lot. People think they can lie their way into a show. They think if they walk the walk they'll get past the door guy. Claiming to know the booking agent is great-- I know a few myself. They're hard workers and don't put up with any bull... which lets me know that they're definitely not putting up with you. So, don't approach the sound guy during sound check about it-- it's not his problem, don't ask me to talk to the booking agent on your cell phone, and don't badger me repeatedly about it. Here are my rules: if it doesn't come from the band, it isn't happening. To clear this situation up, I asked Thurston about him before I opened and he said "just let him in-- he can't be worth arguing with," like a true gentleman. But not before I read the guy the riot act for trying to fool me.
Once on stage, Thurston commanded the room. There is no one-- fan or otherwise-- who could deny that this guy is a pro. To be completely honest, I am not a fan of Sonic Youth and I'm not crazy about this solo stuff, but I respect it. On this tour he is playing acoustic guitar (where was his signature Jazzmaster?), and with him was another acoustic guitar player, a drummer, a violinist and a harpist. Eclectic, yes-- but lush and majestic is the way it came off. I enjoyed the show a lot. It reminded me at times of Jeff Tweedy's Loose Fur project with Jim O'Rourke and also had a lot of moments like Sun Kil Moon (two projects I spend a lot of time listening to).
Thurston has a rich history with not only Maxwell's, but the town of Hoboken. He spent a lot of time there early on in his career (Sonic Youth used to practice in a warehouse there). He peppered the evening with stories about shows he'd seen there over the years. Some highlights were Pussy Galore, The Feelies, and a pre-Nevermind four piece Nirvana. A particularly amusing one was about Black Flag showing up with their own PA system, it being too big for the club, the band agreeing to use the club's smaller PA, and Thurston's claim that it was the best he'd ever seen the band due to the sound. He also had an anecdote about the Meat Puppets arriving in a cloud of pot smoke, yet playing faster and more precisely than any other band he'd seen before. To test the parameters of the audience's attention span (and-- I imagine- age), he claimed to have seen Joy Division there (Joy division was famously booked at Maxwell's for their first North American tour until Ian Curtis' suicide put the kibosh on those plans). This was met with a laugh. After the set, I played roadie as I helped get the harp off the stage and then cleared the room so the band could load out. Once the bar was nothing but staff, I headed home. A pretty good night overall.
Sometimes things get crazy, sometimes they're not-- but it's generally interesting and the group of people I work with is a lot of fun. So, I have no complaints. Plus,I usually haul a few stories out of it, so it can't be all bad-- which is a fine segue into my next story, but not for today.
Until next time.