The Real Douches of OC
Heard Mentality: The best of the music blog for the week of July 6-July 12
You learn something new wherever you go. July 8 was my first trip to Sutra Lounge in Costa Mesa, a place that several folks told me was, well, pretty douche-y. I went because Unwritten Law, a mostly forgotten San Diego band who have been around forever and had a big hit in 2002 with “Seein’ Red,” were playing an acoustic set. This may not sound like the typical learning environment, but I felt like I exited the evening a more educated person.
Though I wouldn’t necessarily classify Sutra as “douche-y” (at least not in public), it definitely fit more of the stereotypical perceptions of Orange County that mass media has created and repeatedly reinforced. Guys in Affliction T-shirts tucked in so you can see their belt buckles, for instance. (To paraphrase Tim Gunn, that worries me.) It was probably the first time since moving that I’ve really felt like I was at a place that resembled the OC of reality TV, but the more I considered it, the dumber I realized that thought was. Sutra also reminded me of multiple places back home in Arizona (specifically downtown Scottsdale—if you’ve been there, you know what I’m talking about). And if I had come from any other state, it probably would have reminded me of someplace there. There are douches everywhere, regardless of geography. We shouldn’t be ashamed of our douches. We should celebrate them.
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On a similar note, I rediscovered that people are judgmental about some really silly things. When talking to Sutra booker Ashley Eckenweiler after the show, I asked her how the crowd for Unwritten Law compared with the acoustic Hoobastank show she booked at the venue last month. She told me she got “so much shit” for booking them.
Sure, I snickered when I got the e-mail announcing the show (I mean, c’mon, it’s Hoobastank), but beyond that, what type of boorish snob (that would never be at Sutra to begin with) would actually care if that show gets booked or give anyone grief for making it happen? They definitely have fans (“The Reason” was huge and not that long ago), and shouldn’t those people, uh, get a chance to see them? Whether or not you’re into it, Eckenweiler was doing her job and booked an act who fit the venue. It was packed for Unwritten Law, and she told me it was only a little less so for the ’Stank. If that bugs people, they need to get lives.
It made me ponder my own snobbiness (cf. the first couple of paragraphs of this column). It’s just music, ultimately, and it should be fun. And, for the fans at Sutra that night, that Unwritten Law show was fun. And I learned I knew more of their songs than I thought I did (“Save Me,” “Rest of My Life”) or would have admitted beforehand.