Sherman, set the Wayback Machine... @ 12:21 am
I was at home, staring at the mirror after just having a really shitty haircut and trying not to get utterly distraught at how awful I looked. Figuring I couldn't do any worse, I gave myself a sorta monkish sideburnless wedge thing. First time I'd ever had a strange haircut, much less cutting it myself.
Later that evening, I drove my dead grandmother's powder-blue Oldsmobile down to the Aragon Brawlroom to see Jesus Jones. I was 6'2", around 172 lbs, had my 19th birthday three weeks before, and going to Oakton Community College. I was wearing a black band shirt and black jeans; which band, I don't remember. There was some homeless guy at the foot of the stairway in the parking garage begging for change.
The ballroom was grungy and poorly yet harshly lit; it was one big space with a zillion rows of folding chairs and standing-room space at the back. The stage was a fair distance back from the barricade in front, protecting it from the cheerfulness of the mostly early-20s crowd. Everybody was milling about, half the crowd awaiting Ned's Atomic Dustbin and half for Jesus Jones; I didn't see any hardcore New Fast Automatic Daffodils fans. I ran into Greg Reifsteck, editor of the school paper (rife with stories of "we were able to expense-report hookers in tijuana!" from journalism conferences); he bemoaned the discontinuation of the 32oz "bucket of beer".
When looking around for a good place to sit, a girl came up to me and started talking. This was novel; nobody had done it before. I was confused, and vaguely blundered my way through the conversation, not quite sure what to do. She gave me her phone number before she wandered off. I was in mild shock that with my goofy haircut, gawky stance, and utter lack of social graces that anybody was interested in talking to me, much less evincing a continued interest. I never did call her; I was too scared to talk to her. I'd never been on a date, or even gone to meet anybody I knew only casually.
I don't remember the NFAD's performance at all. Ned's Atomic Dustbin had legions of fans whooping it up. I thought most of their songs sounded the same, and was mildly nonplussed at all of the fuss. Before Jesus Jones came onstage, I made my way up to the front row to join the very small legion of devout fans. Why were so few people up front? I somehow failed to notice the 10' tall speaker directly in front of us; the more observant and sane people stayed the hell away from it.
Jesus Jones took the stage, we all crowded up against the barrier, and the bouncers stared surlily at us. The band started to play, and it was loud. Very loud. The ballroom could hold about a thousand people, and you need a lot of speaker wattage to make it audible for everyone. We didn't care, though - we were close to Jesus Jones! Around "Who? Where? Why?" the barrier decided it had enough, and the small wave of fan flooded towards the stage. The bouncers looked like they were going to yell at us to go back, but quickly realized the futility in doing so.
Sound follows the inverse-square law; if you move halfway closer to the source, it becomes four times as loud. My ears were accustomed to the volume, so I figured even closer wouldn't be that bad. It was painfully loud, but it was great, feeling the music shake me about. I soundgasmed when Mike Edwards got to International Bright Young Thing, and we screamed the lyrics along with him. We didn't quite hit the high notes, but neither did Mike.
The rest of the evening is a blur; I remember driving out of the parking garage, the Ned's fans crowing about how great a show it was and how Jesus Jones sucked in comparison. My ears were ringing, but they'd rung at shows before. I got home uneventfully.
My ears rang for three days. Between the chronic ear infections and the show, I've sustained some permanent hearing loss.
But I still have the T-shirt.