Cheap cigarette butts floated in the flooded sand of the ashtray by the front doors. At night the wet sidewalk reflected gold light from the street lights overhead, shadows cast hid the dirt and peeling layers of faded paint along the aging walls of the venue. James hated standing in the rain but his buddy was playing drums tonight and he promised he’d show up. The marquee above the doorway misspelled the band's name, or maybe one of the letters fell off, he wasn’t sure.
A massive bouncer in an old denim vest held together with band patches and buttons towered over the tiny green-haired girl taking tickets and checking ID’s with a flashlight by the door. The contrast from standing in the cold rain outside to finally entering the building itself took the air from his lungs. No light, no air, only the stage kit and the deep vibration of the PA system. A nearly solid wall of partially blown Peavey cabinets added to the experience, the true sound of a live show that no pile of expensive effects pedals could hope to match.
James made his way over to the bar, pulled a cigarette from his coat pocket cupping his hand to light it. The gym-fresh bartender with two grand in tattoos leaned forward in an attempt to hear his order. They exchanged words, money, and a tallboy. The opening band was still playing when he made his way towards the stage. Why did venues always schedule bands with two totally different crowds? He never understood it.
The singer was shouting, the mic halfway inside his mouth, nowhere near in line with what the rest of the band was attempting to play. Yet, their dozen or so loyal followers were there for it, a gap had formed between them and the rest of the crowd. Thankfully it would be over soon, he thought, cracking open his soaking wet and impossibly cold beer can.
The crowd cheered when the openers left the stage, not so much in applause but in gratitude of their swift exit. Instruments were rapidly swapped out, the keyboard and rusty drum kit were replaced in expert fashion for the headliners. His buddy Jason had painted his kick drum with a smiling yellow sun complete with horns wrapped around psychedelic style letters that read: The Evil Sun.
Soon the rest of the band arrived, all with matching long wavy hair and beards, cutoff jeans, Chuck Taylor’s and black denim jackets. Jason waved his beer at his buddy as he positioned himself at the drum kit. His friend waved his drumsticks back enthusiastically before they began warming up. The crowd began to move closer and cheered.
A few mic checks later and the lead singer carried on with the introductions, there was a new member that night, a girl on bass guitar that James hadn’t seen before. With her hair matching the rest of the band he couldn’t quite make out her face. But as the singer called out her name “Jody on bass.” she pushed the hair from her eyes and looked up at the crowd. Of course it was Jody, who else could it be. They had all gone to school together and Jody, of course, had been an ex girlfriend of his. When James had waved at his buddy Jody noticed and waved as well. Now she knew he was there. Shit.
James sat through the entire set locked in the shoulder to shoulder crowd. Everyone was cheering, singing along, having a great time. All he could do was wait for it to end so he could get away. He should have been enjoying himself, but couldn’t help but wonder if his friend asked him to the show because Jody was now part of the band. He doubted it, only Jody knew why they broke up since it was too embarrassing to tell anyone else. Would you tell your friends you lost a girl because you passed out and pissed all over her bed in high school?
The last song came up, Jody began to smile, the lead singer stood up to the mic and exclaimed: “Alright this is a new one called ‘Bedwetter.”