Projects
>Here's Who I Am Now
>Manifest Destiny 2000
>Burl International
>Doyslovna!
>Exquisite Corpse

Essays
>"In the Jerry Springer Crowd with Captain Spank."
>"Ennui Flees: a Nada Surf show story"
>"Bartering Art with El Rey"

Stories
>TIME'S FOOL
>"The Man Who Loved Waitresses"
>"This Really Happened..."
>"Shakin the Shakes"

Pix
>CURRENT
>Tom Waits Fest 7 (1996)
>LA, CA (Oct., 2K)
>Chicago Winter 2000-2001
>New Year's Eve 2000-1 (SF)
>New Year's Eve 2001-2 (NYC)
>NYC (May, '01)
>San Diego (August, '02)
>Burning Man (August, '02)
>Tom Waits Fest 12 (Oct., '02)
>Burnett 15 (April, '03)
>LATE Ride (July, '03)
>Burning Man 2K03 (August, '03)
>New Orleans (May, '04)
>Caius/Lessley Reception (June, '04)
>Keg/Carrie Wedding (June, '04)
>Noelkins Wedding (July, '04)
>X/Kennedy Wedding (Oct., '04)
>Storm King (Oct., '04)




 

 

“Ennui Flees: a Nada Surf Show Story”

I’m not an especially sentimental soul, so it catches me off guard when I find myself telling about where an experience touched me on the anatomically correct spiritual doll.

I had been having a shitty day, the kind of day that makes you want to pack up all your shit -- or at least all of your shit that you feel like keeping -- in your car and just driving until the gas runs out. And wherever you stop, that’s your new home. “Pulling a geographic” is what my friend Molly calls that kind of urge.

Part of it was the crummy lasting hangover. Part of it was feeling like I got scammed by someone the night before (boring story not worth going into). Part of it was the soreness in every muscle that felt like a physical expression of a deep enduring malaise. For four hours at work, my shoulders had been cramping up, and a steady headache grinded along with it. Just as work was ending, the big muscle in my right forearm started groaning in pain -- it felt like growing pains, the kind you feel when you’re thirteen.

I got home from work and spent a bunch of hours debating whether to go the Nada Surf show, not least to see my pal Matthew Caws (the guitarist). I have all their albums, know most of their songs pretty well, and have seen them perform a couple times. They’re always good, but it felt like it would be nothing new. More of an obligation than a pleasure. A dark night of inertia was staring me down, but somehow I got up to go anyway.

I picked up my friend Keg and we drove up Halsted to Clark Street where we turned to get to Metro. The first sign that things were going to perk up was finding a parking spot on the street only a couple doors away from Metro. In Wrigleyville, that’s an unlike event at best.

We walked in and paid the cover, and I could hear Nada playing already. I don’t know how many songs we missed, but I’m pretty sure we walked in during “Treehouse”.

Keg got a couple drinks and we walked into the crowd. Weirdly, every time I’ve seen Nada Surf (which is only a couple times, really), I’ve been standing “stage left”, which is where Matthew has been standing every time. I figure it must be how the band is used to hearing each other play.

Within a half a song, I was nodding my head along. And singing all the words as loud as I could. I have no idea how many songs Nada played, though I know they played “The Plan” (probably my favorite song off HIGH/LOW) and “Hyperspace” and a passle of new songs. They were in full Rock Band mode, and heads were bobbing along all through the crowd.

It’s often hard to tell, but I would guess the crowd was OK. Certainly not bad, but maybe not great. Most people seemed to nod along happily to the slower stuff, and then just do the “standing in place, doing the head bang” to the hard stuff. That was pretty much my mode as well.

The only minor annoyance was a young girl -- and hell, the whole CROWD seemed VERY young -- doing a half-assed spin dance, like Gnatalie Merchant from 10,000 Maniacs. But even that was OK because she was having a good time.

And then I realized all the cramps and pain were gone. A good rock show: better than a full-on Swedish massage.

One encore, and then the lights went up. I didn’t see Matthew hanging around on the floor, so I trickled out with the crowd. Waiting downstairs, I still didn’t see him, so I buttonholed Daniel Lorca (who I don’t realy know at all) and asked him to toss Matthew a howdy from me. Daniel told me that Matthew was selling merchandise back in the area Metro sets aside. I had totally forgotten that Metro had that space.

I waited in line a bit (while the Metro staff was trying to clear folks out quick-like, since they had another show going on later -- a Goth show based on the folks waiting around outside, but who knows).

I figured I’d wait in line to say hi to Matthew and buy a copy of PROXIMITY EFFECT for my friend Keg. And Nada was selling a spiffy poster as well. 5 bux! Cheep!

A funny thing about performances. Some people may feel they have a personal connection to a performer after a show, but I personally feel more anonymous. Even though you may know someone who’s performing pretty well, it’s easy to think of yourself as “the audience”. And as I was waiting patiently in line, not wanting to be that guy, that “I know someone in the BAND” guy, not wanting to hassle or annoy the nice folks anxious to give Matthew cash for merchandise, I started thinking, “Gee, will Matthew even recognize me? Shit, maybe he won’t even remember me!”

I have this feeling often enough, actually, even in other contexts. A while back, I got in touch with someone I used ot work with for over a year and a half, and sort of cautiously re-introduced myself. And the eprson in question was happy to hear from me, COMPLETELY remembered me, even pointed out that I had helped her MOVE.

When I walked up and said, “Hi, Matthew”, he looked a bit startled, the way anyone does when you see a familiar face in an unfamiliar context. And he said, “Hi, Morgan! Cool! Good to see you!”

Knowing that I couldn’t shout how much I’d enjoyed myself, and not wanting to get in the way of the other nice people waiting to buy stuff, I said things like “Great show!” and “Next time play ‘River Phoenix’”, which is just a dumb inside joke, and asked him for a poster and a CD. As I was pulling out a 20, Matthew handed over the items and said, “Here you go, gratis.”

And I tried to hand him the 20, and he just waved it away as if I was being silly. We exchanged a few more words, and then I headed out, figuring he had another half hour of moving merch. I didn’t want to feel like I was getting in the way of a friend at work. Move along, slacker! Some of us have JOBS to do! Heh.

Such a pleasure, though, a perfect evening, from parking space to performance to to see people you like, doing things you enjoy, at just the perfect time, and in a perfect way. Ennui flees, malaise goes away, and you’re looking forward to another day. Just like that.


Note: The images are in no way related to the Nada Surf show at the Metro on 08-21-01. I just thought they fit the theme of the piece nicely.


 

READINGS

Loren ipsum

 
Lynx
Pals
El Rey Del Art
Girlwonder
Clive 'The Robot' Thompson
Mark McClusky
O.D.
Writers
James Wolcott
NY Press
Ken Layne
Matt Welch
NY Press
Sports Guy
Crooked Timber
Steve Gilliard
Michael Berube
Important Things
Sun-Times Cubs
Trib Cubs