I am back at the end of the line, standing outside Brother Jimmy’s Bar-B-Que, a fantastic joint for ribs, pulled pork, deep-fried pickles and drinking. I’ve been to the other location before, which is uptown a ways. This is a college joint with kids drinking copious amounts of liquor. There is a fantastic assortment of people in costume here, bloody undead nurses, vampires, dead beauty queens, and others who defy classification, still more who dress for a DD concert in special ways no matter if it’s Halloween or not! While the normal people go in and out of the apartment building above and people come and go to eat we wait in line and it’s a slow business. Two couples come out of the bar and stand in the street. They are trying to decide what to do next and one girl bends down to apparently fix her boyfriends zipper which is stuck. But the angle that she is maintaining with a jacket draped over her left hand, while she manipulates the zipper with her right hand, keeping her nose inches from his “business” well…it looks like she’s doing something else. Their friend notices the crowd who are all watching with amused looks on their faces and mentions this to the girl who looks up and erupts into embarrassed laughter as we all do and I start clapping to add to the moment! Only in New York!
It’s starting to get cold now and I’m wishing for a loo again, I’m just like a girl now when it comes to that. Finally we go in and I remember the place from the Killing Joke show in 2008. I go upstairs to see two girls dancing with lit up hoolah hoops and doing tricks, there was also some strip tease involved because one girls top and bra are laying on the floor leaving her sporting black tape on her nipples! The hoops twirl continuously as they move, topless girl is actually able to go down on the floor on her back while keeping the hoop moving with one leg!
I meet a fellow writer from Connecticut and we talk for a few minutes before The Legendary Pink Dots take the stage. A three-piece band of older guys who lay down a mix of electronic guitar based rock. Kind of like Kraftwerk meets Killing Joke if you ask me but not as metal, my co-writer suggests they paint with music because the music changes many times during each song. They have been around for years and we find out later from Amanda herself that The Legendary Pink Dots actually brought the Dresden Dolls out as an opening band ten years ago on the Dolls first tour ever. I scan the crowd around me and wonder what all these people do for a living and how many of them dress punk all the time. There is open cameras and filming tonight, and they are counting on fans to help with submissions, editing, everything. The show will be available free at a later date for downloading.
When the Dolls take the stage the crowd goes wild, they look great and beam at the audience before they sit down to play. They start with “Sex Changes” a triple entendre song about sex change operations, unwanted pregnancy, and losing ones virginity, this is typical Amanda Palmer writing. She is very intelligent and doesn’t bandy small words about. They love the crowd and the crowd love’s them back. Many girls shout “I LOVE YOU AMANDA!” and guys shout “I LOVE YOU BRIAN!” and Amanda reply’s “WE F**KIN LOVE YOU GUYS!” The bond between Brian and Amanda is very apparent as they fool around on stage, try to trip each other up musically at the start of songs and kid with the audience. They play many of my favorites like “The Kill” and “Backstabber” but the best is “Ultima Esparanza” (on a sidenote I am writing a play based on this song which I will contact Amanda about when it is done to see what she thinks) a song based on a true story.
The great thing about the Dolls music is the accessibility of the band to their fans. Amanda has pulled at least one 17-year-old musician of the street and brought him home to her studio and helped him cut his first EP all with money donated by fans of the Dolls. The show was fantastic and they played a four song encore that included “Half Jack” and “War Pigs” and no one was disapponited at all.
I am very tired when the show ends and I hit the street, I would love to find a late night snack joint and take a cab to my Greenwich Village apartment-but that’s the dream. The reality is that I must walk back the way I came and go home to the island and get home very late. I am really glad I had an hours sleep before leaving the house earlier. The trek back to Penn Station is quick and along the way I pass a group of drunks dressed as prison inmates black and white stripe suits being herded by Super Mario Bros. They sing and chant and yodel various things as they go heading downtown for points unknown. I find myself soon down in Penn Station proper and this is where all the freaks and psycho’s have gathered. I mean you got everything here, men in dresses, women with mustache’s, living magazine covers, midget fire hydrants, and some that defy description! They are all a little drunk and many are behaving badly, but the most popular group is the Star Wars guys. They are older guys one dressed as a stormtrooper, four Luke Skywalkers’ (2 Empire and 2 Snowspeeder costume), a Princess Leia in white gown with the buns hair style, and a short Chewbacca. These guys are having their fifteen minutes of fame, everyone wants a picture with these guys, especially the girls. Guys are yelling out “Chewbacca Rules!” then initiate the familiar howling guttural language of the Wookie.
When the track is finally announced for Hicksville and points east, there is a rush to get on the train and one girl remarks that she never saw so many people so happy to get on a train. I notice that all the freaks get on this train, they’re all from the island, this should not have surprised me at all.
We change at Jamaica and the Star Wars boys and a large contingent of lunatics wait for the train with me, a double-decker comes and we pile in and I can hear the crowd from Penn singing Lady Gaga songs and shouting, laughing, and generally acting like kids. I’m a little envious of them, part of me wants to be down there but I would just be a middle-aged guy standing out like a sore thumb, with no costume on me and no booze in me. If I ever go to a concert on Halloween night again, It’ll be in costume for sure, it’s just more fun and you make friends real easy.
I arrive home very late, take two pain-killers and hope my back stops throbbing so I can get some sleep. I lay in bed with the ringing of the amplifiers in my ears and the music in my head. When I wake up the music is still in my head. I am very lucky sometimes, I got to see the show I never thought I’d see and I wake up pain-free, I actually feel pretty good! One show down, two to go.