By Cory Sklar
By Alee Karim
By Christina Li
By Dave Pehling
By Ian S. Port
By SF Weekly
By Ian S. Port
By Ian S. Port
There's sort of a running joke among my friends as to how someone who a) hates crowds, b) is sick of seeing live music, and c) is usually in bed by 10 somehow scored the job of writing a nightlife column. I can barely find a pulse on myself most days, let alone find it deep in the heart of the cold, cold city. But this year I vowed to act like a normal person and participate in an organized event, the SF WeeklyMusic Awards. By participate, I mean "show up for the free drinks and food while everyone else does all the work." But I did show up, and to paraphrase Woody Allen, that, my friend, is 70 percent of life.
Since I have already used the words "pulse" and "heart of the cold, cold city," let me now continue my coverage of the event told almost entirely in rock clichés. Get ready for words like "heat," "wall," and "dreams." In fact, I need only borrow from one song to get a lion's share. John Parr's "St. Elmo's Fire" is not only a rock anthem, but it's also chock-full o' some of the lamest lines this side of a UPN sitcom. So, with my back up against the wall, I bring you: the Heat of the Night.
Darkness fell on my city at the usual time -- you know, like between 7 and 8-ish, or when Dr. Phil is just about to come on. The air was thick and the streets were mean; this was the street called Market, which houses the largest collection of gigolos, bad girls, and thieves of the night this side of the Hotel Heartbreak. I also recommend the falafel stand at Seventh.
Men and women lined the street in hot anticipation; the electricity in the air was, er, electrifying. They were here to play the game, and no one was going to quit until it was won. Inside, hipsters in borrowed skin were standing around pretending to like the taste of Fernet. Rockers had their amps plugged into the socket. Indie shoegazers were as modest as mice. And there, above it all, like a beacon in the night, stood a guy dressed like a clown.
"So," I said to him, "what's your scene?" He was wearing a gigantic stovepipe hat, a bright red Oriental long coat, striped leggings, and enormous clown shoes in black-and-white checks. His face was done up in the fashion of a circus clown, natch, and I could feel the heat comin' off him.
"I'm a clown," he replied proudly.
"Ah, OK," I answered back. "So, like, are you in the Insane Clown Posse? Or do you do clown porn?" Both questions he answered in the negative. This guy, for whatever reason, just liked to dress up as a clown and had parlayed this desire into a whole career -- a clownlike name, Boenobo; a band, Gooferman; and an annual visit to Burning Man, where a guy like him makes sense.
"So," I continued, having never met a full-time clown, "do you ever sit at your dressing table after applying that last bit of greasepaint and find a single, solitary tear slowly rolling down your face?"
Nope. I have to tell you, though, that when you are sincere, you can get away with a lot, and after I got used to this guy's masquerade, I found him quite endearing.
But back to the party. Slowly the crowd began to fill the area directly in front of the stage, where various peeps were beginning to give out awards for best this 'n' that. Rogue Wave, which I had written a story about, was there, and as is my way, I proceeded to avoid the band members entirely in case they hated it. Other celebrity sightings: DJ Kitty from KALX and soon-to-be-bar Kitty's, Eric Shea from Parchman Farm, that one guy from that one band, that chick who writes that blog thing, and assorted other fuckers. (At this point I had partaken of too many free drinks.)
I decided to sit in the balcony and watch Federation whoop-whoop it up. The crowd was going wild, like prisoners tryin' to break free. I looked down and noticed that the front flap of my dress had come undone, and my bra, which I was wearing inside out because the underwire had broken (long story), was being proudly displayed. I know not how long I had walked around like this, but I had a newfound sense of respect for Tara Reid. I was also reminded why I usually avoid crowds.
"Soldier on," I told myself. "Do what must be done: Call a taxi." I gathered up what was left of my dignity and walked out into the hallway area, which was jammed with the same people who probably watched me walk into the balcony with my bra hanging out. My head held high, I moseyed down the elaborate Warfield staircase like Carol Burnett in her infamous Scarlett O'Hara sketch.
I could see a new horizon underneath the blazin' sky: the front doors of the club. I can make it, I know I can. You broke the boy in me, but you won't break the man!
I can't be sure, but I believe some pyrotechnics went off at this point, probably when I threw open the double doors and emerged onto the street. I felt a sudden urge to do the splits on the roof of the cab, but something told me that the Pakistani listening to NPR wouldn't appreciate it, so I jumped in the back and we drove to a place called Dreams.
Next week, it's back to dive bars.
For oodles of entertaining photos of the 2005SF Weekly Music Awards, click here.