My cooler-than-me high school friend is living in the city this summer, which means a lot more underground concerts, art shows, and house parties for me. Example A) last weekend. On Saturday night there was a house show held by a group of musicians most definitely not in my social circle. The lineup included Emotional, Froogy’s Groovies, Tuckered Out, Friendless Summer, and Nu Normol. One Instagram DM later (sent by said cooler-than-me friend) and I was on my way to my first house show; and, as rad as the scene was, the entire time I couldn’t help but notice how poorly I was fitting in.
It all started when we arrived at the address. Groups were standing about, drinking beer and smoking. I turned my back to the crowd and pulled out a PAX, which may have been a poor choice in hindsight, as its bright, colorful lights shot like spotlights into the darkness around me. My friends and I stood like this for twenty minutes or so, trying to conceal our embarrassing smoking tool of choice (which made us feel like douche-y frat guys at the pool party), and choosing filters for my Instagram post, which featured me holding a ferret. Finally, we heard the rumblings of the bass and microphone tests. We sprinted up the staircase to the apartment above.
Bottle opener-less, I pried pathetically on my beer cap, wishing, once again, that I taken the time to learn any bottle opening tricks, or had at least invested in a bottle opener keychain. Then again, when offered a bottler opener keychain (which I was), I didn’t know how to use it, and embarrassingly pretended I had opened my bottle while I stood with the cap still quite on, and myself still quite thirsty. One new friend and a lighter later, I was sipping my beer, thankful for its chill in the hot room.
I was, as my Jewish grandmother would say, “Quite schvitzy.” My ponytail had grown an interesting array of feather-like flyaways. I wrapped my oversized sweater around my waist and tried to detect how quickly my cheeks were turning red. I didn’t know how dance-y I should be getting, so I spent a lot of time eyeing myself in the mirror, experimenting with hand placement – should I hold onto my Dickies backpack straps? Cross my arms nonchalantly? I decided to take a field trip to the liquor store to buy myself a water bottle and two Reesce’s Peanut Butter cups, for energy.
Despite my small, melodramatic setbacks, by the time Tuckered Out came onstage I was in awe of the environment surrounding me (and no longer tuckered out, thanks to my Reesce’s). Each group’s music shook the album covers hanging on the wall and rattled beer cans recently abandoned on the record player. People hugged and kissed. The girl next to me cried during the climax of one song. The small space brought everybody shoulder to shoulder, including the boy missing his front tooth who nudged me, and said, “You’re really groovin’!” And that I was. One band asked audience members to come and play the guitar onstage (and by onstage, I mean on the two carpets laid out on the living room floor), and I managed to spend a little bit less time observing my hand placement in the mirror.
By the end of the night, I was sweaty, exhausted, and oh so happy. My friends decided to stay and canoodle with band boys, while I caught the bus alone, feeling too worn out from losing my house show virginity to do any more canoodling. It wasn’t until a snack, some sleep, and lots of water later that I realized how aggressively I must’ve stood out, in my white scrunchie and Vans, vaping inside and tripping over a tambourine on the floor – which, in the argument of instrument placement, was not my fault.