Monday, March 17, 2008

Confessions of an Indie Rock Groupie


I was obsessed with this band — let's just call them Merge Over Hill. They had been on the indie scene for years but things had just blown wide open for them, with a song featured on a hit movie soundtrack and their then-current album getting really good reviews from major music publications. But they were still playing fairly small clubs and second-tier college towns to support the record, and it was on this tour that I had my brief brush with groupiedom.

Some friends and I made an event of their show and got dressed up. I think I wore a red floor-length slip as a dress, borrowed silver thrift-store sandals and a suede jacket trimmed with faux fur, topped with a feather boa. We stood in the front row and danced up a storm. After the show, some of our group split but my friend Claire* and I hung around by the bar to finish our drinks while her boyfriend Pete* went to get the car. Sure enough, about 15 minutes later Merge Over Hill came out and made a beeline for the bar. The singer pretended not to notice us and the guitarist (who seemed like the shy type) genuinely didn't notice us, but as soon as the drummer saw us, he came straight towards us and to our shock, invited us to come to their hotel room later. As cool as we could be, we said "sure."

"Bring some booze," the drummer said.

Pete was incredulous when we told him what had just happened. I think he was more excited than we were; he was like this band's superfan. We wanted to make a good impression, so we went to Pete's apartment, scrounged up a bottle of red wine, dug a roach out of an ashtray, then drove to their hotel, which was more like a motor lodge built around a crumbly concrete pool. The drummer let us into the room he was sharing with the singer, who with his girlfriend glared at us from one of the double beds, watched TV, and didn't say two words to us the entire time. The drummer had immediately launched into a monologue about LA, celebrities, tabloid TV shows and I don't remember what else but after 5 minutes it became really boring. We were there for about an hour, listening to this guy drone on about Jackie Onassis or Cher or somebody and then we finally split. It was a total anti-climax. These people that we had idolized had turned out to be dull, shallow and rude and I wish we had just gone home after the show.

But as it turned out there is some justice in the world: Merge Over Hill's follow-up album laid a huge stinky turd, they were dropped from their label, the crazy celeb-obsessed drummer became a junkie and the band faded back into obscurity whence they came.

*not their real names

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