Halloween almost didn't happen for me this year. For weeks, I was convinced I had come down with the costuming equivalent of writer's block: I couldn't come up with a single costume idea I could get really excited about until my friend Erik unearthed a giant pair of plush, glittery ovaries sewed by a friend of ours. The poor things had been lying dormant in Erik's apartment for the better part of a year, and what better occasion for wearing a pair of ovaries than a Coathangers show? Yesterday felt like Christmas Eve: after all, Atlanta-based quartet the Coathangers only bring their sassy, vulgar, kick-ass punk rock circus to Seattle once a year.
To commemorate the occasion, I put on some deafening hot pink tights, a tutu I made out of a secondhand Frederick's of Hollywood teddy, and the giant ovaries, which I wore around my neck like a scarf. Frankly, I was worried for their safety: one of the fallopian fronds was clinging on by a thread and punk shows at the Comet Tavern have a history of destroying my clothing.Once I quit worrying about their imminent destruction, the ovaries did make good props -- wiggling them at people gave my arms something to do while dancing other than flop at my sides -- but the pitfalls of going to a Comet show dressed in costume became immediately apparent and I hung out at the outskirts of the crowd most of the night in order to dance comfortably. It was okay, though, because at least half the crowd was in costume, and mine wasn't even the most unwieldy -- one woman wore a bustle that gave her a four-foot diameter in all directions.
Annoyances of wearing a super-sized external reproductive system for an evening aside, the Coathangers/Champagne Champagne show turned out to be the best Halloween shindig of my weekend. It felt perfectly natural for Champagne Champagne to follow up badass, post-riot grrrrl punk bands like the Normies and the Coathangers -- the music is different, but it results in the same sort of energy. It helped that Champagne Champagne seemed much more invested in their set than they did at Neumos' Halloween party on Thursday. The crowd at Neumos that night seemed populated by people who didn't seem as if they normally went to shows, but had been lured in by the lack of a cover charge and sexy costume contest. Plus, while it might just be that people feel more emboldened to act like douchelords whilst masquerading as something or someone else, I've never had so many drinks spilled on me in one evening as I did that night (five, in case you're curious).
I was really irritated with the Neumos crowd, in fact, until after the sexy costume contest, which I stuck around for out of a mixture of curiosity and revulsion. If we'd been anywhere else in the lower 48, the smoking hot, questionably-legal brunette dressed as one of the Fanta girls would have been able to successfully curry favor by flashing her (very nice) ass at the audience and singing the Fanta jingle. Instead, Wanna-Fanta got beat out by a woman wearing a rubber ape mask. I'd been about to leave to go home and lick my sticky wounds, but the ape woman's triumph endeared the crowd to me. I decided to stay for Champagne Champagne and cope with the unusually frequent jostling by guzzling my drinks more quickly. Those guys are professionals and they put on a good show, but it was small potatoes compared to the energy they put out at the Comet last night.
I suspect that the Thursday-night Neumos crowd would've been satisfied with an iPod playlist: they were looking for a place to get drunk and fondle each other (or find someone to fondle). The show was secondary to the primary objective: get laid, and bonus points if it's by a woman in an ape mask. The Comet's crowd was much better, though the humor of watching couples grind and grope stageside while Sir Thomas and Pearl performed "Cover Girls" -- a catchy, but acerbic track about a cheating girlfriend -- did not escape me.
After the show, I headed into the bathroom to worry over my fallopian tube's unraveling stitches, and the events of that thirty seconds summed up why I prefer to attend shows at venues like the Comet more than anything that previously happened on stage. It's not just about size. Sure, size matters. A small room lends an intimacy that's hard to replicate in a larger venue. But of course, there's intimacy, and then there's intimacy. As I prepared to leave the loo, a tall, attractive blonde marched into the bathroom and made an announcement:
"You all might want to clear out, ladies. I have to take a huge shit."