Super Murder Fuck

I was the first one there. The club hadn't even opened. I left home early and sped down dangerous curvy mountain roads so I could hang out in the parking lot for half an hour. I seriously need the simulacrum of a life.

Anyway, after killing time, the club opened, I paid my cover, got a plastic wristband permanently cuffed to my arm, drank a Coke, went to the bathroom twice, and still none of the bands had shown up. The depressing part is: hanging out by myself in an empty club was actually more fun that what I would have been doing had I stayed home.

But staying true to my mantra that only boring people get bored, I found some amusement. The club was The Milestone in Charlotte. Nondescript, rundown building on the outside, graffiti museum on the inside. Every band that ever passed through the place got their chance to decorate the walls, ceiling, floor, stage, bar, and refrigerator with spray paint, stickers, magic marker, and bodily fluid in whatever manner they chose. As long as they didn't cover up someone else's tag. This one rule was posted above the stage, and I'm guessing that was the first thing painted over when the place opened. Some of the names on the wall I actually recognized. The owners admired Bad Brains so much they put a frame around their name. Some blasphemous dick, however, had torn away a portion of Motor Head's graffito. I hope Lemmy finds out, tracks this guy down, and repairs the tag with his blood. I checked the place out, listened to the house music, which ranged from Black Flag to Johnny Cash. I even got to see the opening band do a sound check. When they came back out for their actual performance, they looked a lot different.

The Falcon Lords

You see, the first band was The Falcon Lords. They dressed up as super heroes, in masks and tights with their underwear on the outside, and sang songs about life in Falcon City. Guitar, bass, singer. The drum machine--I'm sorry, the Crime Computer--was damaged when, in route to the gig, an evil scientist attacked the Falcon Jet with his army of robots.

Remember the old Batman and Robin show from the Sixties? I saw it in reruns, of course, and at first I fell for it. Hey, I was kid and I didn't even know the word "parody." So I took the show at face value only to find out years later it was making fun of comic books and my hero Batman. Camp or not, I was pissed. But when the Falcon Lords announced themselves and started up, I--being the sophisticated adult I am--was able to recognize tongue-in-check when I saw it.

Even without a drumbeat, they kicked out the jams. They sang about chasing bad guys, about how terrible a house guest Mecha Godzilla would be, getting some loving in between adventures, and the virtues of a sturdy pair of Underoos. "Falcon Lords Executive Manbriefs" is now my second favorite song about underwear.

When the Falcon Lords were done, the crowd called for an encore. Well it wasn't really a crowd, it wasn't even a gathering. It was more of a milling about. Anyway, three or four people mentioned that an encore might be something to do, so the Falcon Lords stepped up and gave us an a capella rap rendering of their theme song with Lady Falcon Lord beat-boxing like it was 1985. It was fun, bouncy, unexpected. In other words, a good start to my adventure.


Then came the reason I was there in the first place. Hellblinki. I saw this band a month before and vowed to see them again. But I had to leave town for a while to throw my enemies off my trail. Wait, I'm still in comic book fantasy mode. I did have to go out of town, but it was to play games with my friends, not to avoid alien hit men. Anywhoo, I missed Hellblinki's Asheville shows, so I drove out to Charlotte to see them. The Hellblinki Sextet is a poorly misnamed trio of ultra-talented musicians and sideshow barkers. The front man wore two large red roses, one in the lapel of his undertaker's coat and one in the band of his top hat opposite a giant Ace of Hearts. He played drums with his feet while plucking a guitar and channeling the voice of Digger Smolken. Face painted white, eyes outlined in pink, he would often throw his head back and cackle like a corpse freshly returned from the afterlife with knowledge of the big joke being playing on us all. The bass player wore an oversized Snidely Whiplash mustache taped above his lips and would every now and then fire off a barrage of caps from a toy pistol. Some time ago, these two went and corrupted themselves an opera signer and brought her into the fold. Or maybe she was just born with a little drop of poison. Her lilting voice even now haunts my mind.

Along with bass, guitar, and foot drums, the band incorporated slide whistles, toy piano, and accordion. I know the accordion is almost universally associated with polkas, but because I've heard the instrument put to such macabre use by Danny Elfman and Tom Waits, it evokes for me visions of skeletons waltzing in the fog. Hellblinki confirms my belief that the accordion does not belong at weddings, unless you're Gomez and Morticia. At one break between songs, they performed an actual cacophony, pounding on whatever props they brought along, tuning a radio across stations, and producing torturous feedback from a portable amp and microphone. Then they slipped seamlessly back into song with the precision of a murder of crows. (You have no idea how much I love using the phrase "murder of crows." It's hard to work into everyday conversation, though I'm always pointing out windows and saying, "Hey, do yo see those black birds in the trees out there?" Most people just ignore me.)

Near the end of their set, they asked us to help them raise the dead by lifting our hands and waggling our fingers. I've heard of jazz hands, but but never necromancy hands. I gave it my all, I tell you. But everyone else wasn't so into it, which bummed me out. We could've had our own zombie army if those guys had been able to put down their beers for a few lousy seconds.

After the show I talked with the front man. Andrew is his name. He talked about how it was difficult to convince the audience of one Asheville bar to visit another bar, making it hard to build a consistent fan base. He also conferred to me that he thought Hellblinki was too weird for Asheville. Yeah, right. And then California will vote Republican and ban gay marriage. Oh shit.

Is it true Asheville? Are you turning straight? Shopping at The Gap? Lining up for the next Adam Sandler movie? I will not let my beloved freaky town go normal. As of this moment I'm shaving my head, coming out as a lesbian poet, and throwing down the gauntlet. I challenge you, Asheville. Prove once again you are an abnormal island of freakness in an ocean of conservatism. Pierce the unpierceable body part. Smoke what no man has smoked before. And for god's sake, go see Hellblinki every chance you get.

PPR at the Milestone

The third and final band on the ticket that night was PPR. They ,too, came out in costumes, the guitarist wearing a tee-shirt and jeans, the bass player sporting jeans and a tee-shirt, and the drummer boldly bucking time-honored drummer tradition by actually putting on a shirt, which he peeled off after the first song. The first song, however, was half an hour long.

A winding, gear-shifting instrumental layered with punk-rock fury, jam band deliriousness, and death metal growls. As I listened, a strange effect came over, as it often does when I go to rock shows and allow myself to unwind. I began to dance. Now when I say dance, I mean convulse. It began with a head bob. Nothing out of the ordinary there. Then my hips agitated back and forth all around the compass, and I looked like I was trying to keep up a hula hoop shaped like Oklahoma. The real problem is that I have no idea what to do with my arms or legs. So my feet ended up glued to the floor in resemblance to the Pee-Wee Herman dance, and my hands fluttered around like drunk birds attacking random people and gouging out their eyes. Then I started head banging, and those unfortunate enough to pass near me were ensnared in my locks. I won't be nearly so dangerous now that I'm a bald lesbian poet.

When PPR finally paused after their thirty-minute ear pummeling, they began their salute to the word "fuck." They put it in every song. One lyric was nothing but. The bass player produced a bizarre vocal squawk that sounded like a chipmunk auctioneer attempting to scat, then he and the guitarist simply shouted "FUCK!" into their microphones. And how can I forget their tender love song in which they proclaimed, "I fucked your sister over here, I fucked her over there, I fucked her right through her underwear." I was moved, and made a mental note to buy my sister a pair of Falcon Lord Executive Manbriefs.

I left with many mementos of my adventure: a ringing in my ears, smoke in my clothes, a band around my wrist, someone's Dead Kennedys button entangled in my hair, and a graveyard tango ghosting in my brain.

All the Journeys of This Great Adventure

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Chokes and Warbles
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Chokes and Warbles, a collection of essays and poems by Michael Channing