For those of you who don’t know, a basement show is essentially a bunch of bands playing in someone’s residential basement (and I'm not talking about a finished basement in Mommy and Daddy's house, either. Think more "black mold" and "possible death") and New Brunswick is relatively famous for this sort of thing. Teenage Jenny Jerkface loved going to these shows – it was a great way to see a lot of bands in an extremely intimate setting and for a nominal price (back in the day it was only couple of bucks). Also, it was totally kick-ass.
More or less how I remember a basement show. An awesome (albeit sweaty as fuck) time!!
That being said, I hadn’t really been to a basement show since I was in my early twenties but was reasonably confident they would be just as awesome now as they were back then. I figured it might be a little strange to have a bunch of “old” ladies rolling on up to some punk rock house and hanging out with a bunch of teenagers, but I wasn’t too worried about it.
Okay, that’s kind of a lie. I wasn’t sure how I felt about the fact that I would be the creepy cryptster lurking in the back.
This doesn't exactly have anything to do with this post but it made me laugh and possibly pee a little. Mainly because I've been told I'm even dickier now than I was when I was a teenager. Fuck those people.
As the day neared, I became more excited. I began to feel nostalgic about all the old shows I had been to and recalled fondly the days of seeing bands like Lifetime and The Bouncing Souls in some random basement (Handy St., I believe). I was pretty stoked when the day finally came and K’s husband picked all of us up to go to the show.
And then I started to get a little weirded out by the age thing, which actually kind of surprised me. K’s husband wasn’t actually going to the show with us; instead he was going to drop us off and I suddenly had memories of all those times as a teenager when I had to beg Daddy (not a)Jerkface to drop me off at the corner so no one would know I was the dork whose parents drove her to shows.
Because nothing is cooler than rolling up with your Dad in one of these bad boys. (Ironically, this actually probably would be kick-ass now. In 1991... not so much.)
I told the others about that and then asked K’s husband if he could drop us off at the corner, rather than directly in front of the house. Everyone laughed.
“I’m not even joking,” I said. For some reason, the idea of having a bunch of thirty to forty-year-olds being dropped off in an SUV in front of a dilapidated punk-rock house in New Brunswick was just too much for me to handle. I wanted to be under the radar.
The house was a typical New Brunswick punk rock house - it was old as shit, decorated with crazy and questionable items and had approximately thirty bikes locked up on a bike rack in the living room and had the most terrifying bathroom EVER. Basically, it reminded me of the house I lived in when I was in my twenties in New Brunswick. People milled around outside - mostly kids in their teens and early twenties. Once we were there, we kind of lurked around the backyard for awhile and drank a few beers we had brought with us and I took some nips off my flask and marveled at the fact that teenagers STILL drink Mad Dog 20/20, which has to be (to me) the most disgusting puke-inducing malt beverage known to mankind.
Once the show started, we headed inside and made our way to the basement. And that’s when I realized there is a huge difference between teenage JJ attending a basement show and adult JJ attending a basement show.
Ummmmmm.... whose idea was this again?
Teen JJ's thought process while attending a basement show (circa early nineties) – Holy fuck, this is amazing!! I’m like two inches away from the band. Wow, there are a ton of people here! This is going to be a great fucking show!! I’m so excited to be here and this is the best thing EVERRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!!! I really hope they play my favorite song because I'm pretty sure there is nothing better in the whole entire world than this, right here, right now. I'm so happy being down here and listening to music I'm about to shit happiness and rainbows ALL OVER.
Adult JJ's thought process while attending a basement show (circa now, bitches) – OHMYFUCKINGGODWE’REGOINGTODIE. Were basements always this small? It’s pitch fucking black! I’m going to fall down the stairs, I just know it. There are like fifty kids crammed in this little space!! That’s totally a fire hazard. We’re going to burn down here and I’m going to have to be identified by my dental records and my mother is going to wonder why the hell I was down here with a bunch of teenagers in the first place instead of doing adult things like getting drunk at home and watching movies. Where are the exits? HOLY SHIT THEY’RE CLOSING THE BILCO DOORS!!! Man, it’s fucking hot down here. Is that exposed wiring on the ceiling? Has this house passed code? OMG, is this house actually condemned? What the fuck is that stench? I can’t see shit. OW!!! Low ceiling, low ceiling! That’s gonna leave a mark. Ewww, super sweaty guy just brushed up against me. This is definitely a fire hazard. Is someone smoking weed? Jeezus crispies where is my flask. I need whiskey. Holy shit, that kid looks like she’s twelve… OH MAH GAHD. I’m old enough to be her mother!!!! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!! Dude, what stinks down here?? Where’s my whiskey? I NEED MY WHISKEY.
What's that? You can't see anything? Yeah, neither could I.
I have to admit that there was a brief moment when I actually considered saying fuck it and getting the fuck out of dodge but in the end I stayed and it was awesome. After the first few minutes (and multiple pulls from my flask) it stopped bothering me that I was packed like a profusely-sweating sardine in a questionably-safe basement with a bunch of people I could have theoretically mothered without having to get knocked up at a super-young age.
There is a big difference between going to a huge stadium or theater and finding your seat in nosebleed land to watch a band and standing in some random stranger’s basement with your face pressed into someone’s sweaty fucking back to watch a band. As I listened to the bands play, I realized what the difference is – you’re not just a mere spectator at a basement show. You’re a part of it. It’s just you and the band. There isn't any pretense or stupid bullshit involved. It's truly just about enjoying the music.
Marissa Paternoster, lead singer of Screaming Females and guitarist extraordinaire. Seriously. And yes, it's a dreadful picture. Did I mention it was pitch dark down there???
And that’s pretty much the coolest thing of all.