I consider myself to be a man of varied musical tastes, though I certainly have my preferred genres. One of my favorite genres is “people with electric guitars singing about the devil.” Some bands—Iron Maiden, the Rolling Stones, even Ugly Kid Joe—dabble in the genre, but the band Ghost is all in and I love them for it. Catchy rock songs played by an anonymous clergy and sung by an undead pope will get me every time.
It’s easy to dismiss Ghost as just a gimmick, but before you do that, you should really consider what a great gimmick it is, so I’ll repeat it for you here: catchy rock songs about the devil, played by an anonymous clergy and sung by an undead pope. You’re either in or you’re out.
I’m all in. My fiancee Bekka and I had already seen Ghost once this year when they played Webster Hall in NYC back in May, but I was so excited to finally see Papa Emeritus II in the flesh (?) that the show was a bit of a blur to me. So when I found out they were doing a few warm up shows on their way to Lollapalooza, I knew nothing–right down to the venue they were playing at–was going to keep me away.
When we saw Ghost at Webster Hall in NYC, the sound was phenomenal—crystal clear and at just the right volume. Unfortunately, on this go ’round, they were playing the Webster Theater in Hartford, CT, a venue world renowned for it’s terrible sound. The staff is great, it’s fairly roomy and they have reasonably priced soft pretzels, but the venue is hotter than the devil’s ballsack in the mid-July sun and there always seems to be at least one instrument you can’t hear. Still, Ghost. So, off we went.
I’ve seen a few shows there before, so there were no surprises for me. I tried to prepare Bekka for it, but it’s just one of those things you have to experience for yourself. I told her it wasn’t going to make anyone’s list of most beautiful venues, but I don’t think she expected it to be as close to the bottom of the barrel as it is. From the boarded up houses next door to the, as Bekka put it, former YMCA look of the venue, it’s definitely got some character. On a positive note, at least they don’t fill the bill with pay to play bands anymore.
Anyway, the Webster Theater is in the type of area where you pat people down before letting them inside. I always expect this, so I try to pare down what’s in my pockets as much as possible. However, there are two items I can’t get rid of: my enzymes and my Prandin.
As I mentioned, the venue has reasonably priced soft pretzels and I love reasonably priced soft pretzels. I didn’t think I was going to have one, but it’s always better to have pills and not need them than to not have them and be surrounded by pretzels. So, I brought my enzymes to digest this hypothetical pretzel and my Prandin to tell my body to make some damn insulin. Prandin is a tiny pill in a conveniently sized bottle, so I tend to carry them in the bottle they belong in. My enzymes, however are big honkin’ capsules that come in rather unwieldy containers, so I carry them in a repurposed Mentos gum container.
Bekka and her spiky handbag/clutch/carrying thing went through the pat down with relative ease. I, however, managed to stop the line cold once the gentleman working security asked me to show him what was in the Mentos container. He had to call over his manager to get the okay to let some sketchy looking dude with a Mentos container full of bizarre capsules into the venue. I’m used to it. In his position, I would have done the same thing. He was just doing his job. His manager okay’d it, so I refilled my pockets with various crap and headed into the theater.
My fiancee is what they used to refer to as a “fiery broad”, so she started to get a little worked up when she saw what was happening. Once I got clearance to enter and I explained to her what happened, she was a little shocked by my nonchalance. Again, I’m used to it. And really, what are the chances that the security guard has seen enzymes before or even knows what Cystic Fibrosis is? If anything, I consider the hassle to be my fault for not bringing a marked container. It was all for nothing too, because once we got inside, I didn’t even have any pretzel money, because I couldn’t pass up the “Year Zero” shirt. Still, none of that bothered me.
But here’s something that did kind of get to me. While we were waiting to get into the venue, some kids, possibly late teens to early twenties, noticed my Wicker Man shirt and started a conversation about the film. Now, I’m always waiting for the opportunity to talk about the Wicker Man, both the masterful original film and the batshit insane remake. As an added bonus, one of the guys in the group mentioned how he got into the movie via the band Agalloch. I fucking love Agalloch! Perfect, right? Well, almost. I had to keep the conversation light and short because two of the five people in their group were smoking and it was starting to get to me. I had to keep my distance and pretend I just ran out of things to say because even though we were outside and there was a decent breeze blowing, my lungs act like flypaper that collects particulate instead of pests. And can you imagine saying “I would love to talk to you about the Wicker Man, but I have a lung disease so you’re going to have to put out that cigarette first.”? That would have snuffed the conversation out too. At least with my method, I was able to let it die a quiet, semi-natural death.
Look, I’m used to CF ruining my ability to eat and breathe, but killing conversations about The Wicker Man, Agalloch and Ghost is just a step too far. Maybe I should start wearing a Bane mask or something.