Saturday, September 5, 2009

Show 7: Bloomington, IN

Turnout: variable
Door money: $55
Personal injuries report: 1. The gun spilled its guts (easily repaired). 2. Over-tight knots made Ben's right arm feel all tingly and gross. 3. Kate thought it looked really good when she smashed Ben in the head with the gun again, and the audience laughed. 4. Our pride took a pretty serious hit.

This was a really strange show, and we've got a couple hours to get to Colombus, so get ready for a long story. We played an all ages music club in the middle of Bloomington. First, the good news: Bloomington is a decent city to spend an afternoon in. Almost like Madison ten years ago. Boxcar books is a great bookstore (more bookstore than infoshop, though), Runcible spoon has amazing veggie burgers, the "people's park" is an active and open space populated by burnouts and weirdos (as it should be) and Rachel's Cafe is a kind of astonishing place to find in the middle of the bible belt.

Rhino's is also a really great space, an all ages club with a great sound system, community support and an awesome staff. But, this is where things start getting a little weird about this show. When we set up the show it somehow didn't occur to me that "all ages music club" meant "almost nothing but highschool". Cliques, drama and budding adolescence were here in full force. A group of metal heads and goths too poor to pay admission chased each other around the parking lot while suburban teenage girls squealed at the bands inside. The first of these bands, an Indie-rock group called My Hidden Track were rockstars, and I mean that in the worst possible way. About 40 kids sang and clapped along (on the singer's orders) to their songs which seemed predominantly about how every "bitch" they'd met "didn't matter". Their huge elaborate merch table and amp covers featured banners with pictures of a young blonde who will surely have an similar immature rant-song written about her one day. When they finished playing the place cleared out. We set up and tried to convince people that this isn't your grandma's theatre, mostly only the goth kids were buying it, but they didn't have money for admission, and had a reputation for being disruptive and shitty. We convinced the staff to let them in for free anyway and started the show.

So we started out with a little more than a dozen in the audience; the staff, the goths, the last band and a few of their fans. As we started the show I appreciated the reversal we'd staged. Poor kids who normally hang out in the parking lot were inside the space, while the trendy rich kids hung out outside. We started the play and the kids initially laughed at the violence, which we sort of expected. We are all desensitized, but kids with slipknot t-shirts are even more used to violent images as pure fun entertainment. By the time I was tied to the chair they'd gotten quiet. I'm speculating, but I like to think that the violence we presented was very different than what they were used to, which made it sobering rather than titilating. Throughout the play we don't focus on the violent act itself, but on what follows the violence. The pistol whipping is obviously fake and is undermined by the spoken stage directions, but the characters' reactions are complicated and true in a way that they aren't in the movies. Kate's character is horrified by her own actions throughout.

Unfortunately, shortly after the blindfold came off one of these kids left to answer a phone call and came back, herded the rest up and left us with about 5 audience members, mostly staff. We got the impression it was a parent on the phone and they left cuz they had to.

Divided Highway played last, to a mostly empty room. I feel bad that we apparently chased away their potential audience, especially since i enjoyed their music much more than the first band's. It was pop punk, still with break-up songs, but much more introspective and honest. Their musicianship was a little rough, but more genuine, which i appreciate, a little rawness puts the punk in pop-punk.

Overall i'm really happy with how the show turned out, unexpected things make for interesting experiences, and i feel like we showed the few people who watched us something they haven't seen anywhere else.

We left the show and started our drive to Colombus, spending our first night sleeping in the volvo (see pic) which was decent.


  1. Yeah, I was the staff member who came and talked to you guys after the show! My name is Alex in case you don't remember. I finally got around to checking your blog out. I'm still interested in setting up a show in my hometown of Indiana. I'll let you guys know.

  2. Hi Alex,

    I sent you an email. If you didn't get it, but get this, get back to me!