Who knew sneaking into a concert could be so easy was my first thought as I entered the Launchpad one April night. 21 and up shows always had been the bane of my existence but when a local “20 piece drone group” as Patch called the Death Convention Singers was set to play there for a 21 and up show, Patch convinced me we had to get in, there was no choice. So we drove down town and went towards the back of Launchpad, our game plan was to say we thought this was an all ages show if anyone gave us grief. So when we got there, no one was out manning the back door (obviously) so we pulled and banged on the back door to no avail for about 20 minutes. All of a sudden what appeared to be a worker for Sunshine came out and began smoking a joint. I asked him if this door was going to be opened and he said, not until the next group started. So we decided to wait around a little longer and never have I been more pleased with a decision. As the group ended, someone opened the back door and it didn’t bang closed all the way. So me and Patch looked around, pulled it open and walked with purpose and confidence into the venue like we belonged there.
Well, the first thing I noticed as we walked in was in fact, I did not belong. I was wearing a brightly colored bro tank and clearly didn’t seem like I was 21. Patch was a little better, dressed in his normal hipster garb, but it was very apparent we were underage. No one seemed to mind in the slightest though as we stood towards the back minding our own business. Another huge problem I didn’t foresee was the fact that there were about 15 people in Launchpad. That’s it. So everyone in there knew we were there but it seemed like they were just as surprised and alarmed by the situation as I was.
This group had been advertised to me as having 20 people, but when the show started, only a drummer was on stage. Doing a drum solo. Basically the opposite of what I was expecting from a “drone” show. The solo went on and on, making me think I may actually get to see a punk show or something. But then the actual concert started. Members from the audience slowly started to move on stage and plug in a mixture of guitars and other equipment all while the drum solo continued. And then it started. I still to this day don’t know how to describe what I heard or saw that night; it was one of the most eye opening and honesty bizarre experiences of my life. People flowed on and off the stage like water, picking up guitars, and basses and a violin and even a glass bottle. Basically anything they could get their hands on. There was screeching, there was feed back, there were random notes, there was noise and of course there was the ever constant presence of the drummer even though she wasn’t following any particular pattern or rhythm or even a plan. It got so loud that I spent most of the show covering my ears. The vocals reverbed around the venue in some unknown language, howling and piercing as my hands cupped my ears, trying to block the audio assault.
It was weird, and frankly fairly cult like and alarming but it entranced me. I couldn’t even dance or bang on my chest like I normally did, it was that eerie. The height of it all though had to be when what appeared to be the main singer went off stage, pulled long white robes and sheets over himself and walked back on stage to thrust the microphone deep into his mouth and to proceed to breathe, wail, screech and attempt to sing all while the mic was stuffed into his mouth like a gag. Then, out of nowhere he began throwing some sort of white powder onto himself and the crowd intensifying his vocals while the whole band began reaching for climax as the reverb of the guitars got even louder, the chaos on stage reached a crescendo and it seemed all instruments were just being played as loud as physically possible with no regard to any hearing damage.
Then it all stopped. All except for one guy, playing a banjo singing softly for the first time with the rest of the band/ crowd shining flashlights. It reminded me of a mine and with the countryesque noises coming from the banjo, it was almost as if nothing of the rest of the show had even happened. The banjo playing went on for about 3 minutes or so and that too slowly faded away until the lights turned off and all that was left was the blackness of the Launchpad. People hesitantly started clapping and I followed their lead, not really sure if it was done or not.
My mind was blown. And weirdly enough my ears were not even ringing even though I had thought that was the loudest thing I had ever heard. I think it was because the pure noise level wasn’t high decibel, just an unknown sound assailing my ears. Me and Patrick quickly exited the venue, worried we would have no way to leave if we didn’t leave while the band was un packing. I didn’t even know what to say to the musicians as we left, I was still in shock. I woke up the next morning and thought I had just woken from a dream. I had bits and pieces of the black night weaving in and out of my mind all day, and even today, the experience has stayed with me. I really have to thank Patrick, because due to his poking and prodding he got me to go out of my comfort zone and I have never been more open to new ideas since that show. He has gotten me to try so many different kinds of music and I feel like a better and exposed person now because of all these experiences. Now when I go to a show, I look for what is unique instead of if I like what I am hearing. I will be honest, some of me could have done without the waling and reverb and parts of the Death Convention Singers performance. But I have grown exponentially since that night and my appreciation of anyone’s attempt at music and being themselves has sky rocketed. That night frankly changed my life, and changed it for the better.