Vince and I arrived at the video game bar at 8PM sharp because Randy, the booking guy, had asked us to help with sound. All two mics. We were dressed to perform: Him with his jeans, striped blue shirt and white, European-esque polyester Star Trek jacket. Me with my vine green pants and psychedelic space tiger tank top. The place was lined with HDTVs, arcade cabinets and consoles spanning NES to PS4, displaying Super Mario Kart, Mortal Kombat X, Star Wars Battlefront, Killer Instinct, Guitar Hero, Super Smash Brothers and countless others. The floor was mildly sticky everywhere you walked and the whole joint smelled like a greasy trash fire. The kinda smell you find in the alley behind a McDonald’s after all the line cooks have tossed out their frying oil for the night. It never went away, we never got used to it, and I can’t imagine the workers ever being able to do the same…Which explains their unfriendly demeanor and all around unhelpful attitude toward every patron in the place.
I walked up to a bartender
“Hey…We’re playing here tonight. Do we get a drink tab…?”
“Uhh what’s your guys’ name?”
“The Vape Decks”
“Oh, uhm…Hold on I’ll find out”
He sauntered to the kitchen in the back and then returned with a gentleman named Ryan who was white, had glasses, trimmed beard, and thick, cascading brown hair. Good looking man, but also average looking.
Ryan shook our hands and rubbed the back of his head.
Sighing, “Yeah uhm…What was your guys’ name again?”
“The Vape Decks”
“Are you on the bill…?”
“Yeah Randy put us on just yesterday and we’re going on last. If you don’t want us it’s fine we can just leave or some-”
“No! No it’s fine! It’s just…God dammit, Randy. Always doin’ this shit!…He’s gotta tell me this shit! Y’know? The same thing happened with the Adventure Time party we just had where I was getting that going for a MONTH and he piles shit on at the last minute. *sigh*”
He looked down and rubbed his hand through his hair. Then tried to shake off what I imagine was his entire week.
“Sorry I just…It’s fine, yeah, you guys are on. I just got done putting together this whole show, and there’s so much other shit I gotta do, and I’m kind of just an alcohol soaked mess”
“Yeah man I’m sorry…We getcha…By the way, have you seen Randy?”
“No, I don’t think he’s here yet”
We put our drinks on the $50 tab and headed outside to enjoy them. Out on the balcony was a nice view of that college town avenue in the cool, springtime Saturday night. The cars dropped off, high heeled, mini skirted girls below us, who then headed off to the clubs. The workers of the burger restaurant across the street could be seen taking order and flipping patties. Cars passed. Bikers passed. People hurriedly walked to wherever they were going.
Vince threw his hands up, laughing
“It’s a god damn shit show, Cody! Nobody knows what the FUCK is going on! And I LOVE it! We can just fucking…Do anything! We’ll run their sound, be their DJs, nobody will give a SHIT! IT’S GREAT!”
He took a gulp of his PBR as his phone vibrated with a text from his mom.
On the way back to my car to get our gear, we ran into Randy. A good fellow, truly. Black, patchy beard, punk-leather jacket, a bit taller, but not too tall. Always smiling, laughing, carrying a half size guitar. Always out there doin’ shit, bein’ heard. He’s a force.
We got into a discussion as to how we’d set up the two mics and he wanted to use a DI box we brought but it was pointless because it was going into the mixer which was clear across the stage and yadda yadda blah blah.
Back at the car, I had received a ticket for parking against the flow of traffic.
We took our minimal gear of samplers and keyboard stands up the elevator back to the bar, and set up right at the soundbooth. Ryan and Randy came up to us, looking anxious.
“Yeah uhh their mics are plugged in to 3 and 4 but there’s no sound…We can’t figure it out”
Vince and I looked at the board and saw the master fader was down. God help us all.
The band played too loud for too long. Distorted, fuzzy, Sabbath-worship type stuff. No vocals. Probably upwards of 40 minutes and I was thanking God I remembered to bring earplugs. Multiple times, as Vince and I sat in a corner booth he would just yell out “FFFUUUUCK! FUCK!…FUCK THIS BAND” and I would laugh and nod in agreement. At least we got free drinks to help cope.
I caught Randy and his possy just as he was about to leave. He informed me that there was a house show he was putting on right down the street and he would return shortly once the cop situation got sorted out. He and his crew didn’t come back for the rest of the night. More power to ’em.
After waiting five minutes for a bartender to acknowledge me, I ordered myself a gin and tonic and went outside. Sitting there was Ryan, his lady friend, and a woman named Janice who, frankly, had a horse mouth. It was a bit sad. The rest of her was fine. Nice figure, hair, clothing style, it was all there and good. But that poor, poor mouth. After bonding over our mutual love for Community, we somehow got to talking about gender roles in dating:
Janice, “Relationships are a two way street! If I take care of you, and your emotional needs, and I’m there for you, you should do the same for me! I’m not your mother! This works both ways! I had a guy who did nothing for me and I always treated him nice!”
“Right…And that’s a fair assessment…But I also think a lot of guys just kind of deal with their own emotional shit and might not necessarily want a woman to try and take care of it. Or pamper them. Men are raised to bottle it and figure it the fuck out on their own. But you know…everyone’s different”
“And dating men is hard! They’re so aggressive! Like, if I talk to a guy for a month, and then tell him I’m not interested, he fucking flips out! Gets mad at me, starts calling me names, it’s just like…’Dude! You’re not fucking entitled to anything!’”
“Yeah dating is pretty fucking weird and yeah…It’s hard for both genders. But you know. Just because that guy did that shit doesn’t mean all men are aggressive assholes, that one guy just sucks and doesn’t know how to take rejection. Fuck that guy!”
She nodded and thought about it a little bit.
“Hey I don’t mean to like…Leave you out here or anything, but I want to get another drink”
“Oh it’s cool I gotta go to the bathroom anyway”
Inside the bathroom there was a black trash bag, which once covered the urinal, laying on the ground next to a stall with its wall torn off and thrown in a corner. There was a man peeing into the, probably dysfunctional, urinal. I pissed into the toilet bowl, trying to avoid stepping in the excrement all over the floor. Vince’s DJ music could be heard over the bathroom speaker. This particular track was a real banger: Tame Impala – The Less I Know the Better. I could picture him at the sound booth, his head bobbing as the track played.
The next band went on and I sat on my phone, drinking my drinks with Vince, being simultaneously irritated and jubilant. They were some garage rock band, like most of ’em. Four chords, usually I-V-vi-Iv. Sometimes surfy, sometimes ballady for “diversity”, as I’m sure they mentioned in their band practices. Because why have everything be upbeat, right?
After they played, Vince hopped on the mic
“Heeeyyy we’re the Vape Decks bringing you some cooool jams for the night. Sit back, enjoy your drinks and enjoy the music”
He flicked the microphone off and turned up David Bowie – Sound and Vision. Bowie’s dancin’ stuff, not his rockin’ stuff.
“Cody nobody’s listening and I love it! Nobody even knows we exist and we’re just up here doing our thing and bringing people good music. Watch!”
He flicked the microphone on
“I can say anything! And it just sounds like muffled trash and nobody’s paying any damn attention! Heeyyy guys Gamebar is GREAT! Hope you’re all having a good time on this Saturday night! Be sure to avoid the bar food I hear it’s real shit!”
Not a single person turned their head in our direction. I laughed. He was right. So I fucked with the song on his sampler by doing some weird looping kind of stuff. It was stupid good fun.
The next band went on and I went outside because I knew I wouldn’t be able to stand the smell or the sound one bit. Ryan was out there, and after we got to talking about Metal Gear Solid for a few minutes, he decided to buy me a drink. His own special drink, apparently. It was a $10 cocktail with Not Your Father’s Root Beer, Milk Stout and Jamison. He got distracted schmoozing with others for a bit, then remembered to buy it for me, then couldn’t get any service, then shook his head wondering aloud where the hell it was five minutes after ordering it. He later brought it out to me and, I must say…It was delicious.
It was time for Vince and I to go on and actually perform some tunes. We had a set laid out with Sonic Racing music, Smash Mouth loops, Vaporwave nonsense, Evanescence debauchery, and one shot samples from a Kanye West interview, the Republican debates, Smash Brothers, H3H3, airhorns…Memes, really. Just memes. Gamebar is meme central, so it was fitting.
Halfway through the set Vince put on a chill track and said to just hang out for a bit. So I went outside and talked to a couple cute girls I had been eying throughout the night. One had long black hair, a pretty, springtime, flower dress with fishnet stockings and acted calm, collected and cordial. Her name was McKenna. The other had blue hair, a blue nose piercing, glowing, gray-blue eyes that spoke to your soul, and a vivaciousness that maybe half came from alcohol. Or all came from alcohol. Or maybe none…You can really never know. Regardless, I had no interest in the blue lady at first, my sights were set on the dress lady. But the blue one persisted.
Vince poked his head out the door and held out five fingers. I nodded in affirmation.
She grabbed my arm, dug her nails into the skin, took my glasses and put them on, shoved me, wrestled me. It was all fun and games when I yelled out “HEY WHAT THE FUCK YOU CRAZY BLUE HAIRED LADY” and that triggered something deep in her. Her eyes flickered and she started on me:
“Oh yeah? Alright, alright…I’ll try you”
She took my glasses again
“Hmm you’re a nerd. And why are you wearing that tank top? Your arms are too skinny! You play with your beard too much and boo hooo! ‘I’m such a neeerrddd! I’m sooo intelligent! Ooohh I’m a hipster artsy fuck!’”
She poked the only pimple on my body which was located on my neck. I was laughing. The other gal was laughing. The audacity of that woman was mind boggling.
She gave me back my glasses just in time for me to go inside and finish up my performance, which consisted of me pressing a button on my sampler to trigger a weird Evanescence youtube doubler cacophony of sound.
“Vince…That woman. She’s crazy!”
“Don’t do it Cody she’s bad for you!”
“I KNOW! I…I like it though. Vince! It’s always the crazy ones with me!”
I went back outside while my cacophony played, and there she was, by herself.
She grabbed my arm and squeezed it
“Wanna come with me while I get a drink?”
“Sure” I said
She bit me so hard on the shoulder it left a mark the next morning. Then we stood there, her holding on to me. Looking into each others’ eyes deeper than two strangers should ever legally be allowed. She bit her lip and turned me on.
Smiling, “I uh…Like the whole blue get up you got goin’ on. The hair, the piercing, the eyes. It really works for you”
“Yeah? Is that why you’re hitting on me?”
She smiled and bit her lip
“You’re hitting on me because you’re turned on by me”
I smiled and looked the other way, then back at her
“What makes you say that?”
“Your eyes…I can see it in your eyes!”
If she bit her lip any harder she would’ve made a hole through it.
“…Wanna go somewhere else?”
Vince, over the loudspeaker
“Cody let’s go home! It’s 1 o clock!”
I started packing up my stuff and noticed the woman standing near us. Just waiting. I took her by the hand and led her to a booth, where we sat down and small talked for a little bit.
And then finally,
For all of three seconds.
“No! I want to know that you REALLY want me! Sorry…I’m a tease ;)”
“Huh? Of course I do!”
I pulled her closer and tried again. But that didn’t work. We sat there for a bit, looking at each other.
“…So, okay then,” I said, “What do you do?”
“I play League”
“What do you do?”
“Well…I’m a musician”
She rolled her eyes and reeled her head back “Oh HERE we go. What fucking instrument do you play?”
I laughed “Well, uhm…Anything, really. Mostly the sampler at this point”
“Do you speak another language?”
“Un poco espanol”
“Eres un pendejo”
She got up and left. And that was it. I sat there for a few seconds, thinking maybe she’d come back. But no. There she went. Outside. Chatting with her friends. It was all some sort of sick, twisted test and ultimately, I failed.
“Let’s go home, Vince. That woman is fucking nuts”
“She’s a whore, Cody”
“No no…That’s too reductive. It’s not that”
We packed up and left the joint at about 1:30AM with nothing much to show for it. It was fine.