"shocked and saddened to hear..."
Bad Adventures chapter ten - DC Armory, Washington DC, 5/10/97.
Somehow we knew. The day started badly, delays and short tempers and car trouble; no one was right. Kristen's windshield wipers konked out for the second time in as many days and I recall saying peevishly - and peevish is not my usual tone on a show day - "-so what? It's not raining."
As if the blackening skies weren't a hint. The wipers grudgingly kicked in a block or so down the road, just in time for the storm to break and break hard. We negotiated the twisting route to downtown DC in driving rain Liz could barely see through, got lost and found and lost, and the neighborhoods got nastier by the block. Finally found the grim gray box of the Armory and its parking lot, and trooped through the torrent to the (fortunately awning-covered) walkway, nerves rattling like a sackful of chain. And the first thing we heard was that there'd been a death in the family. Somehow we knew. (Regina had wakened at 4 AM in tears; she was paper white as she told us the news. She knew first.)

At least it was crew and not band; but what if it was a crewmember of long standing, Maxie or Mike or Zepp - any of whose loss would be unbearable? How could we find out? And what about more mundane concerns - would the show even go on under these circumstances? We agreed it would be no surprise for cancellation signs to go up.

So it's an unusually sober little crew that stands there, we and the first four or five Spooks to arrive -- one of whom is Fairchylde, who's volunteered (yea!) to help me with my DM&G printing crisis. Having something mundane to chat about is a good distraction. Regina (who knows everyone) disappears and returns with details: our loss was a member of the Upstaging Inc. crew, Manson's tech support, which hooked up with the tour back in January. Sad as this is, it still gives some small relief: at least it's no one we know. The cops are saying that he was drunk and messing around on the equipment (this appeared in the Washington Post); someone later tells EVB that no alcohol was involved. Sean Beavan, who's working soundboard for Manson on this tour, was in the hall at the time - twiddling something in the sound system probably - and, horribly, saw the other Sean fall to his death; he had the dreadful task of waking the sleepers on the bus to tell them the news. (We cringe as we imagine ourselves in his place...) --Bits of info will continue to drop in all day long.

The day wears on, the rain stops, and still there's no soundcheck and no word. Notices of Helmet's non-appearance are already posted - singer Page is ill. Armory staff have opened the outer doors and about eight of us are sitting in the little foyer at the head of the line, venturing inside to visit the restrooms and outside to buy food or look for late arrivals. (Herewith a note of appreciation to the Armory staff, who were the most courteous of any venue folk on this leg of the tour, letting us come and go and use their litter boxes without a note of hassle. Thanks, folks [salute]. Doors were supposed to open at 6:30 but it's 6:00 and still no soundcheck - we're nearly sure the show's canned (and we'd have no problem with that - we're trying to imagine the effect of this awful event on someone of Manson's high-strung sensitivity, and recoiling.) ---But about 7:00 comes the familiar rumble. They've decided to carry on.

So we get in late, but make it to our usual barricade spots - Sparklers left, P'com & other Mansophiles center, Slicers right, Zim Fan Club far right - and begin to feel a little better. Maybe it'll yet be OK. --You couldn't tell that to the Upstaging crew, however, who (quite understandably) look stunned. Poor guys. Professionals that they are, they go steadily through the motions, but their faces are numb and they're all a shade pale. What a terrible experience this must be. They've got crew logo shirts in both gray and black and I'm seeing more than the usual number of black ones tonight.

Helmet being absent, Rasputina gets to play a longer set, which is a bright note. Melora makes her usual run of eccentric remarks; I've begun to really look forward to her description of the forthcoming Manson set, which this time is "naked Satanic dancing colostomy bags." =) One of the songs they've added is a standout, delicately beautiful - I hope it's on the CD
(which I blush to admit I'm not familiar with yet).
Lights on, we wait, we listen to Bowie. Lights out.

The sound effects, the smoke, the figures taking their places in the dim light ...you never get over the thrill of this moment...and then the spotlight hits Manson poised on the stairs and the roar goes up. Holds his pose long enough to soak up some energy from the throng and then descends with his usual dignity. The crush from behind nails us all to the barricade as they realize he's still coming forward, right out to the forestage. He plants his boot on the monitor and briefly but deliberately surveys the first two rows; he seems just perceptibly settled by the sight of so many known faces. After such a day I would be too.

And they kick into "Angel" and we're off with a bang. Goddamn fkn' crowdsurfers start up too. The Slicers are in fine form for "Get Your Gunn" and I could swear they get a few lines of "Tourniquet" pointed their way. ..."Tourniquet"...y'know, I must be the last person to get to like this song...practically everyone I know has loved it since before it was even recorded, but it never moved me until we began hearing this version. Now it wrings me out like a rag. The pain and anger and helplessness in those repetitions of "you never ever believed in me...she'll never ever believe in me" are almost too much to take. Man.

Another breathtaking "Kinderfeld." Still having the same "oh wow!" reaction to this that I had the first time, it's just so goddamned amazing! Serious as I know the song is, I know I'm grinning from ear to ear in my delight at this wonderfully intricate monstrosity with its little pink flute. (OK, it's a recorder. Still.=)

At this point it becomes clear that people who had been seated are leaping the barricade and flooding onto the floor en masse, and we've got a lot more bodies to deal with down here than we expected. Crowdsurfers are coming through faster and faster ("flowing over like a waterfall" to borrow D1/Jay's apt phrase) and I'm having a hard time keeping unbroken watch. Hurts, too. Damn.

Unforgettable moment of the night: Manson, coming to the mike for "Sweet Dreams," pauses a moment and says very quietly, "This is for Sean." (I at the time didn't know the name of the one who had died and thought he was trying to console Sean Beavan. Learning later that both the victim and the observer were named Sean made Manson's empathic gesture seem as eerie as it was poignant.)--Surfers are as heavy as ever during this one - even this one! Scum! - and while I have my hands folded protectively over my head someone's heel, on its way over me, jams into my left hand and shoves the little finger out to a sharp right angle. The pain's so bad my vision goes all black-purple and for a minute I'm sure the sucker's broken - damn o damn!
I'm squeezing it tight with the other hand and crying but refuse to be dislodged from my spot. Suddenly in front of me appears Aaron, MM bodyguard/chief security guy, wide as a door and looking concerned. He takes my shoulders and mouths "are you OK?" I lean on him gratefully for a second and nod. I must look fkn' ghastly but he takes me at my word, smiles and gets back to work. Thanks Aaron.

"Apple of Sodom" as pretty as ever - even if they're still doing this on the next leg it won't be as much fun without Raspi doing their Gothic-apparition number on the staircase - and a kickin' "Antichrist Superstar" with Manson really throwing himself into the puppet-qua-malfunctioning-robot routine, thrashing and twitching as he swings over the podium rim. Considering that we're not only in Washington DC but playing in a military facility (the DC Armory is just that, a National Guard Armory with all the staff in full uniform) and that the opposition against them here was mounted by a show on a gospel radio station, the political/religious/military triumvirate that this unholy demagogue represents can't help but be sucking in energy from all sources,and he's at full throttle all right.

*blink* there's someone in a white coverall standing on the stairs...huh? hold it, check out the mane of matted dreads...is that Steve? Damn yeah! Steve (Rasputina drummer), with a trombone of all things, livens up the presentation of "Beautiful People" (like it needs it!) with some odd jazzy riffing. The show's energy just keeps snowballing, cartwheeling downhill barely under control. Manson's prowling up and down the stage front in his open red shirt and black pants, shaking and jabbing a pointing finger, swinging a spotlight over the crowd's faces, so wired he's jagged and frenetic.
-- I start to get it through my much-kicked head what's happening here. The stress and horror of the news, the lack of sleep, the uncertainty of the pre-show day, sent the Mansons in here with no energy to spare, running on empty; what they're using is pumped straight from the crowd undistilled, and it's so raw and crazy that the show is turning into a sleepless night on methedrine. I'm just hanging on by now, crushed, exhausted and streaming tears, hoping to last.

Brilliant encores: a crazed "Hate Anthem" with Manson doing his "won't won't won't!" tantrum stomp on the cube (have to love that) then taking a long-legged leap off it that must've sailed him ten feet toward Twig. Are we getting the recited "1996" now? No...ohmigosh no-- "and the world spreads its legs for another fuckin' star cause I am the All-American Antichrist!" Oh my bleeding god! "Rock'n'Roll Nigger" and where better than here in DC? "I was made in America and America hates me for what I am!"Manson rants like he's spitting napalm, thousands of voices shouting along, and man is there an extra shot of venom in that line - the last few months have shown him just how much America hates what he is. Kicks the crowd straight over the edge into complete chaos and I hit epiphany - drained of any energy I find some somewhere, bruised and busted I still shove my feet under me and sing - I just *love this song*! (Only at Manson shows do I have to fight and transcend my mere physical self this way...)
All I can remember besides this is the ragged tangle of rage and frustration and pain that I was, so that I began to cry midset and couldn't stop, so that I stood looking up at him and thinking: I love you but I can't go through this anymore. I can't stand it. The stupidity and disrespect of these people going over my head hurts me more than their fuckin' boots do. How can they ignore the complexity and beauty of this show and the things it tries to tell them? How?

I sat in the stands and bawled my miserable eyes out and everyone asked was I all right. I guess I was. (OK OK, so I overdo it, go ahead and shake your heads....)But I was in no shape for an aftershow....
The DC aftershow's in a carpeted room, at least, with couches and chairs. I grab some floor and try to pull myself together. Maybe I've had enough, should skip the next two shows? Coyote thinks no, but maybe I take all this a little bit too much to heart (um yeah, maybe =) and maybe I shouldn't go down front tomorrow night in Richmond. She's probably right (as usual....)

..to main gig review page.
..to the next night.