FM Bats

Fitzgerald's Irish Pub,
Huntington Beach
Thursday, Aug. 5

Tall skinny Todd was sick in the parking lot, and at first, I thought he was dumping out a bottle of wine because the booze was coming so hard—flat and wet as it splattered in bursts on the asphalt—and I don't feel that's a breach of privacy to print that because I've been throwing up all morning myself, just to revive the mood. He didn't stop walking till he made it all the way to the back of the lot, and then he sat down, and the funny part—which was kind of forced anyway, except when someone drove their truck right through the mother pile—stopped being funny as Todd kept sitting, his silhouette against the flat white wall (which was an abandoned building anyway; the night was simply choking on atmosphere and also its own vomit) of the mortician he was gonna be, with a heavy coat fanned over his shoulders and some kinda fedora slid down the back of his head. If it had been me, I would have had my shoes as far apart as possible, would have been panting like a horse, would have been doing multiplication tables and thinking about astral projection, but that's me. “No, he wants to play,” said Todd's girlfriend, and he did: two hours late, not even at the place where the show was supposed to happen, to friends and well-wishers and two guys from the band the Crowd, who probably hadn't listened to much Le Shok, but there was no way they weren't looking out from their loud Hawaiian shirts and thinking about the Germs. First song had no PA, but drummer Tony was swinging at the floor tom like a caveman; Todd the pro was singing like the equipment worked, and you wanted to tell him not to waste the energy, but then someone flipped a switch, and there he was, his baby-burp yawl ballooning into the barstools. The second song sounded like it was gnawing on its own leg; something went more out of tune than they wanted. Tony and Leonard were doing strongman shtick, Leonard windmilling his heavy old bass up and down with the song, and Orlando was quiet and still, looking down through his glasses at his fingers and guitar strings. I'd never call it surf-punk, but you could get confused a little if you've never heard a rock N roll band use clean guitar. Monks, Electric Eels, Fall—I feel like I should get some new records, huh?—and someone outside later said something mean about Flipper. They were done in maybe 15 minutes—all those songs, splattered hard on the pavement—and then the bar guys came in to set up some serious anticlimax, but people (who didn't clap) asked for one more, so Tony went back to the floor tom, and they did to “Wipe-Out” what Pere Ubu did to “Summertime Blues”: “EVERYBODY OUT!” Todd said. “SHARK IN THE WA-TER!” Leonard was churning the bass strings like a turbine, and it sounded like bugs all around my head. I felt sick, like I do now, and I got Orlando to give me a tape. Upon examination, I found they'd played the whole demo apparently in order, and Todd had been saying, “dying” when I thought he was saying, “divine,” and then I found the truest line they had: “Vultures swarm so you know it's me.” I had been telling people about that all weekend, but then I caught Todd walking down some stairs the next night, so I asked how he was doing. He leaned back on the rail for a second and said he felt 100 percent better.

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