Monday was Blondie night, a gig at the Highline Ballroom in Chelsea. I was going it alone, but instead met up with Kenneth and walked over from the subway. He was in a tie and I was in long pants ("dressed up" for both of us) and we were meeting early because we hoped to get seats. Yes, seats! While the middle of the floor was G.A., there were also a number of tables for those of us who felt like taking a load off...provided we also didn't mind springing for some $30 salmon. (The place had an unenforced $10 minimum PER SET, so we in theory would have had to buy $10 or more during the opener and another $10 or more during Blondie.)
We got a great seat with a nice view of the stage, sitting side by side, only to become embroiled in a controversy when the couple at the table next to ours tried the same thing. No dice! The waitress informed them they could not sit side by side; one of them had to move to face the other person, back to the stage. Why? Policy. They need to fill each seat. It was absurd. The manager came over and forced them to move, whereupon the female half of the couple cattily pointed us out and asked why we didn't have to move. Fuck you, toots—we, without realizing we were helping our case, had told the waitress about the absent third member of our party, who in theory would be arriving any moment to sit with his back to the stage. Frantic e-mails brought Kenneth's partner Michael along in due time, averting a tragedy. (Kenneth cutely though that I might consider leaving my stage-side seat to become the one facing away from Blondie if push came to shove!)
The show was pretty great, though felt shorter than usual and Debbie definitely was not as "on" vocally or energy-wise in the beginning. She's sticking with that Emmylou Harris happy hair, but I did for the first time also connect it to Andy Warhol's shock of white wig.
The 90-minute gig opened with the Eat to the Beat trifecta of "Union City Blue," "Dreaming" and "Atomic," moved into new material with "D-Day," gifted us with classic "Call Me" and neo-classic "Maria," and then settled into a meaty portion of the band's current studio set, Panic of Girls. The new stuff—"Girlie Girlie," "What I Heard," "China Shoes," "Wipe Off My Sweat" and "Mother"—is uneven, but very listenable and with a couple of true stand-outs. By the time the newer songs rolled around, the recently slimmer Debbie was on fire and dancing up a storm and truly having fun. At one point, she joked how New York was not like (their last tour stop in) Michigan. "They have Detroit...gotta give 'em that!"
Other highlights included a genius mash-up of "Rapture" and the Beastie Boys stomper "(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party)." Other covers that scored were the Johnny Thunders tune "You Can't Put Your Arms Around a Memory" (dedicated, implicitly, to 9/11 remembrance) and the Ramones chestnut "I Don't Wanna Go to the Basement."
"One Way or Another" was a frenetic room-charger, but it was their "Heart of Glass" finale that probably did the most toward making the room "get up!"
After the show, feeling high that I hadn't had to deal with pushing and shoving and all my usual G.A. nightmares—namely, short girls who cause problems—wouldn't you know it, a twentysomething short girl and her tall, twentysomething friend (both ugly, let's just say it) caused a problem. The club was superpacked, so getting out was taking a minute. As we were all filing out, this short, fat girl grabbed her friend's hand and literally threw her weight around, slamming into us and some others. They were laughing like this was all so very punk of them. We objected, to which her friend said, "Don't sweat the small stuff." Original!
I wanted to tell her her friend wasn't all that small. Instead, we just told them to shut up and then she said, "You're at a rock concert!" I said, "Yeah! And it's OVER. And now we're just walking out."
They thought our objections were "psycho" and now the fat girl was really getting into it with Michael. "What are you, FORTTTTYYYY?" she sneered. ("What is Debbie Harry, EIGHTTTTYYY?" I wanted to say.)
Look, none of us have hearts of glass anymore and all three of us had the ability to reduce this porcine punker into a pool of tears by saying, "You're fat and ugly, end of story." But going there with a girl will result in one of two things: (1) The crowd turns on you, or (2) The girl belts you, feeling assault is justified when women are personally attacked but not when men are.
Incredibly, as hot-headed as Michael and I both are, we left it alone.
Meanwhile, this incident immediately reminded me of one that occurrred when I went (alone, sigh) to see Eurythmics in college. I'd gone to see them at a rather stuffy, grown-up venue on State Street, and was miserably in the upper level, where NOBODY would stand up and dance or react. Finally, toward the end, when "Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)" came on, I couldn't resist and stood up and danced my ass off. The killjoys behind me demanded that I sit down, but I said, "You're at a rock concert!" (I'm not kidding—identical words, and probably identical age spread.) As things continued, I, too, had played the age card, sneering, "What was the last concert you went to? The Bay City Rollllllers????"
Talk about full circle!
But see, it's futile to protest being bumped during a rock concert, but it's only right to expect not to be deliberately shoved while trying to walk out of one. And without old people, there would be no Blondie and the room would have been filled with a lot of air.
All of this serves to reinforce in my head the single misogynistic thought I have ever had, which is that rock concerts need to be segregated by gender, because girls invariably demand to see well even if they're shorter and feel justified in pushing because they're girls and when girls push it's cute and when guys push it's violent.
I would like to invite a girl to come with me to the next G.A. show I go to so she can be an independent monitor before judging me a vile woman-hater. She just can't stand behind me and whine or stand beside me and push.