Bouncer’s Logic

The Denny Regrade project (public domain).

The Denny Regrade project (public domain).

Modest Mouse was small then, just three guys from Issaquah. On Tuesdays, a gay bar featured straight acts and it was my first chance to see them, my favorite band.

It was cold for Seattle, and we huddled in Mike’s car drinking ice beer. The ice beer had more alcohol — none of us had much money for bar drinks so we drank lots quickly, and then went inside.

I had seen Jesus Lizard in Tacoma and developed a chip on my shoulder about the Northwest music scene. They all just stand around, no one moves. I grew up on the east coast seeing the Ramones, the Dead Milkmen, the Circle Jerks, and had a taste for mosh pits. There’s a real art to it, and it’s okay to push people and throw your elbows, as long as no one gets hurt. If someone goes down, you pick them up.

Homer was English, and his first name was Matt, but we all called him Homer. He was older and smarter than us and rode a shit 10-speed everywhere; he was a doctor of maths, he said. The English made it plural for some reason.

Homer could drink beer better than me but I got drunker than he would and for this was a kind of zoo attraction, anything could happen and often did. He was married and his wife would stiffen when I’d go to hug her, not hug back. She was a professional ice skater named Jo.

I didn’t make it through the first song before they threw me out. All the bands back then dressed funny: Juno, 764-HERO, Beat Happening: they all wore outfits like they’d been out hunting or snowboarding, which had to be hot under the lights.

They opened with a slow song, Dramamine, and it didn’t make sense to mosh to but I was fed up so I started shoving, but no one seemed to get it, they just fell down.

The bouncer looked gay standing over me on the sidewalk, sometimes you can tell by the way they keep their beards. I begged him let me back, it was my favorite band and my first time and I won’t do it again I promise, but he just said Once you’re out, you’re out — bouncer’s logic, not up for debate.

The Re-Bar was at the bottom of the Denny regrade, a swath of land they gutted in the 1800s, with a 45 degree hill back to my apartment alone in the cold. I’d brag about it to the girl I liked, I got kicked out of a show for starting a mosh pit, but she didn’t know the band or the bar and wasn’t interested in me anyway, she just liked the attention.

I met the singer’s mom who worked at a Starbucks. I had their T-shirt on and she said my son sings for that band and I said they’re my favorite, but I got kicked out. And now he lives in Portland or Florida and isn’t much fun to be around, but at least he knows it, he’s made a living of it.

Categories: music

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17 replies

  1. Starting to worry about your mental health. Are you thinking of starting a band? Also, it’s more like the early 1900’s for the Denny Regrade. I am picky about those historical, hysterical details!


  2. aw man, you got to see Jesus Lizard and you’re complaining? I almost got thrown out for moshing at a Feelies / REM concert ca. 1984, but I was only standing next to the guy moshing and pleaded a good case. Was that you?


    • Aw man you saw the Feelies/REM 1984?! That would have been the time to see them. I don’t see the Feelies come up much, nice…but all that aside, yes: Jesus Lizard, 1996. David Yow landed on me and I touched his sweaty body, it was all muscle.


      • Holy crap! I just remembered I did see Jesus Lizard. I was 4 months pregnant and thus nowhere near the pit. I was also completely sober. That must explain the memory lapse. Thanks for giving me back that memory,plus the image of that sweaty body.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I didn’t know Modest Mouse was from Issaquah. My brother moved to Issaquah from Texas a few years ago. I think he’s in Tacoma now. Lot of great bands from that region.


    • Funny – yeah, a surprisingly good hip-hop scene too. And we have bobcats! Just saw my first now in our front yard, climbing a tree. I guess I could have tweeted it.


  4. i love seeing music live, especially before the musicians become popular, seeing them as their raw and natural state of being. brings out the best and the worst –

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Love this piece. Was a fun read.


  6. Best part “it didn’t make sense to mosh to but I was fed up so I started shoving, but no one seemed to get it, they just fell down.” LOL that is so damn funny!


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