Sunday, March 28, 2010

Benefit Show: Deathrats

Picture a dimly lit restaurant illuminated only by candles casting off a soft light from a series of elegant, little mahogany tables and by multi-tiered chandeliers lined up across the ceiling. The uniforms of the waiters are color coordinated with the burgundy carpet. Women are wearing dresses. Men have on ties.

The hostess stands behind a podium and greets us as we enter. We ask her where Deathrats is playing and tell her we've left the band's gear in the van. Anyway, that's what we encountered as we showed up at Jackie's Restaurant in Silver Spring, Maryland for the HIPS benefit show scheduled for Saturday night.

The hostess told us that the "party event" was in the backroom and no one had told her precisely what was going on back there. The backroom has its own entrance. She suggested that we use that entrance if we planned to drag "things" in. She led us to the back room.

We walked past velvet curtains lined in what looked like fur.

The backroom was where the show was going to take place. Brian Lam, the drummer for Deathrats, quietly asked who had booked the show.

I helped carry some of the equipment in. Pat set up the PA where someone told us to set up. After we dragged in all of the band equipment, another person from the restaurant told us that we needed to set up on the opposite side of the room. We had trouble finding electrical outlets. Brian started moving things around when a person from the restaurant told us to move the equipment again because she was concerned we were blocking a door. I had a cold and sat down on a 1950s-style, satin couch and waited for them. Brian, Greg, and Brad from Deathrats started moving their equipment through another door behind some fake facade where it looked like kitchen items were stored. I could hear glasses clinking and quiet voices from the dining area as they opened the door to move their equipment around.

The restaurant representative informed us that they would not play until at least 11:00 p.m. The dinner crowd would be out by then. The clock read 8:00 p.m. In the backroom, near where we were standing, some waiters placed big silver trays of fruit and toasted bread on a large, rustic wooden table in front of a line of small decorative candles. Our conversation turned to food. Brad grabbed three pieces of bread. Being vegan, he avoided the fondue pot.

After all of the equipment was safely stowed, the members of Deathrats took off for dinner at Mandalay's, an amazing Burmese restaurant in Silver Spring. Brad told Pat and I to get out while we could. We did. As we walked away, I heard Christine asking the other members of Deathrats how they'd feel about doing an acoustic set. It was awkward.

Epilogue. According to Greg, Deathrats ended up following a person doing a burlesque show with a boom box. As Brad was setting up some equipment, he kept unplugging the person's boom box. People in the crowd complained.

Deathrats felt that the audience probably wouldn't appreciate their sound, so they just had fun with their set and went wild playing. They jumped off of furniture and ran into each other. Jamie played her guitar jumping on a vintage-looking sofa. Brad was hunched over playing and Greg kicked him in the head. Later, Brad dropped his guitar and stood there watching it, letting the distortion go.

The people from the restaurant asked the members of Deathrats to leave as soon as they walked away from their instruments. Go figure. They took a good 45 minutes, though, loading up.

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