Wednesday, March 12, 2008

3/14/08 Rockabilly Disaster

Saturday morning I experienced a small earthquake (tiny news blurb here). It was one of the largest ones so far, I think, but still little more than a curiosity. The building's vibrations were accompanied by the sound produced by everything in the apartment jiggling at the same time. Perhaps more like a giant massage than an earthquake. Occasionally I will wake up in the middle of the night due to a pronounced swaying of my bed beneath me. The earthquakes have been mild enough that I don't yet have any reason to fear them. Surely we can be friends.


Saturday night a few of us decided that the time was right to hit the BBC Club. A typical clubby dance music establishment, an important feature of BBC (no idea what the letters stands for) is that it is the only club in town. The two story establishment usually has a couple of DJs going in different rooms at the same time, and we enjoy the atmosphere. Thing is, there are so many unwanted events at the place that getting there on a nice normal day is really a spin of the roulette wheel. Its nice to mix things up, but we show up expecting a certain experience and are sometimes disappointed. The exterior of the building is plastered with publicity posters featuring the varied talent that will appearing in upcoming days. No doubt, the fully literate find the signage quite useful. We, however, are a very dense bunch.

We paid at the door and entered in the usual fashion. The price was a bit higher than usual, which really should be starting to serve as a warning to me to start running and not look back. I had spoken to Rory from England on the cell not five minutes prior, and he had assured me that there were plenty of interesting people present. When I finished ascending the stairs, it became painfully obvious that Rory had left out some small but crucial details. Yes, these were people, and as promised, there were quite a few of them. The particular folks had a few interesting qualities worth mentioning, however. They were predominately middle aged men. They wore a variety of leather jackets and various out-of-place retro suits. Last but not least, they had slicked back pompadours, reminiscent of Grease or an early Elvis album cover. I was confused and scared and angry. Mostly angry. The four of us had just dropped enough cash at the door to purchase a Nintendo DS, and hours of wholesome electronic fun this was not.

Not even these guys could ruin my day so easily, as I was determined to enjoy my night. As we all descended the stair case, I braced myself, not knowing what sort of brain-stinging spectacle I may be about to witness.

There was a live band playing various old school tunes. I gathered from the sayings on people's t-shirts that this was a rockabilly concert, rockabilly being an early style of rock popular in the 50s. The dance floor was quite densely packed, more than I ever seen. Predominantly the same crowd with the funny hair, there was also a woman or two carrying a child, as well as some elementary school aged kids running around. The adult time that I had been hoping for was pretty thoroughly not going to happen.

A small circular clearing had formed in the crowd where some especially devoted looking men had gathered. They waved their arms and legs around in a frantic Elvis sort of dance. It was entertaining to watch, if not completely spastic. One person couldn't keep it up for long, so he would retreat back to the circle and another would quickly take his place in the center. They were serious to the point that just about every single member's shoes were wrapped in black electrical tape, I assume because they had all danced their shoes to tatters. They were interesting to the point that my eyes were fixed on them rather than the band for most of the show. My only criticism of these guys was the lack of improvisation. They just kept doing the same few little steps over and over without much flair.

A leaflet that I snagged on the way out, advertising the show.

I was determined to get my money out of the experience, so I stayed until the band was finished. While I'm not a big fan of the genre, I have to admit that the guys had energy. One guy playing a cello (?, I'm not a large stringed instruments expert) raised it to his hip to play it like a guitar, revealing the bright red and orange flames painted all over it.

After the show, when the crowds started to thin out, I noticed that there were some tables with CDs and t-shirts that the bands were selling. One shirt was funny enough that I picked one up. It has a skull with crossed swords on the front, and across the chest it reads "rockabilly samurai" and "far east rebels rule". The back has several things going on, the best being the Japanese flag emblazoned directly next to the confederate flag, in an unholy and confusing alliance that I'm sure is the first of its kind.

After the show was finished, this pompadoured DJ started up, playing strange hip hop versions of the 50s music we were listening to previously. This was my signal to leave.


  1. cello? If it was a rockabilly band it was probably a stand up bass? Did he play the instrument with his fingers or a bow?

    Odds are it was a stand up bass.

  2. I must confess complete stupidity on instruments. You can see my view from the pictures. I could barely see the thing until he started waving it around. I'm gonna say that you are right and that it was a bass.

    Ever have one of those in your bands?

  3. I saw the Reverand Horton Heat here in Los Angeles over ten years ago. That was a kick ass rockabilly concert. Great pit.