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Numb, Crocodile Shop @ Exedor, May 23, 1998
Once again, I began my evening lamenting my clothing choices. I almost always go for comfort, and since I wasn't trolling (ie, looking for a guy to score), I was dressed downright slobbish: way too big army shorts and a black tank top. In fact, I was dressed so bad I felt an overwhelming need to glam up the kisser and apply copious amounts of black lipstick. And then there was the hair issue. I was going to go for the pigtails--they worked so well last week I got ID'd when none of my (younger) friends did. But the little girl hair didn't go with the ensemble, so I was forced to deal with the frizz factor (it gets curly when I dance too hard, and it looks a little too Betty Boop-ish for my tastes). I found some old hair spray (!) and put in some blue streaks and out I went.
Croc Shop was first, and last time I saw them I wasn't too crazy about them, but either they've changed or I've changed, because this time they were fine. More than fine. Plus, the singer had made the same bad fashion choice as I (the baggy cargo shorts), so I felt much better. There was this stunning gorgeous goth chick in the audience: long lank morticia hair, some delightful little knit/net ensemble, fishnets... if I had any inclinations in that way I would have been trying my best to chat her up. Anyway, I can see she's making googoo eyes at someone in Croc Shop and I'm thinking, well, just go for it chica, no way any of them are kicking you outta their beds. In my 30 years on the planet I've learned a few things, and one of them is most men will gladly, uh, let's use the lovely euphemism sleep with, most women. I mean, I make no effort to look attractive most of the time, but I know that if all I wanted was sex, it could be procured with a suitably desirable partner. Sadly for me I have several more requirements. I can't compete in the gothic/industrial arena anyway because most of the cyberboys become totally entranced with the goth chix and who can blame them. Yes, they're probably high maintainance and you probably have to get into fights with other guys... I guess my one appeal is that you can look at me and tell I'm really low maintenance. But then I open my mouth and out comes this stream of nonsense about 16Volt quoting Spencer's Faerie Queen and do you think I should ask Oneiroid Psychosis if they got their name from Gravity's Rainbow and did you know that David Thrussell liked Radio Free Albemuth better than VALIS... And it's like oh no, help me i'm in hell... you can see that flicker of panic across their little dumb faces, that look that says i have no idea what's being spoken about.
But Croc Shop was way cool. Much harder and more aggressive that I remember. And the kids love 'em.
Between sets, the Borg Sisters were kind enough to kick out some really good stuff including one of my faves, Aiboforcen's Dying Rose, during which several people came up to me and asked me who tha hell this wuz.
I positioned myself near the right side of the stage for Numb so I could get some pictures with the disposible camera, and as soon as David Collings came out and dumped a pitcher of water on himself and me I began to question the sagacity of that decision. I'm getting ahead of myself here. The set opened with their cover of the theme for Mr. Roger's Neighborhood playing as they slowly took the stage. Then they launched directly into the assaultive No Time from their most recent (and harshest) CD, Blood Meridian. All the boys in the front immediately begin singing along. And David Collings appears to be drunk off his ass, ossified, stewed, stumbling all over the stage, pouring water on all of us while we sing the scream-of-consciousness lyrics of No Time, Don Gordon's keyboards pulsing and edging us further into the dark soul of Numb. Collings spends most of the song in the audience, like an excited electron bouncing off people trying to get to the next state. When he climbs up on the benches near where I'm standing, the girls sitting there look genuinely frightened. He's screaming and climbing and thrashing and I'm reminded of Jello Biafra when he was with the Dead Kennedys, how he'd always dive into the audience. This is the first time in a long time that I've felt real fear at a show, afraid I might get something broken or worse, but I hold my ground at the edge of the stage because Collings is so damn compelling I really don't want to risk missing anything.
It's at the beginning of the forceful, driving, relentless Desire that Collings realizes that during the last song he's pulled out his mic cord. Don Gordon is smiling, you can tell he's thinking I knew it... and Collings ambles out into the audience and slumps on the floor and curls up in a fetal position while a guy goes to work and it takes several tries to get it right and finally the vocals come back and everyone goes crazy. Collings seems a little happier and begins rubbing people heads as he whirls drunkenly thru the crowd. This one girl is glaring at him and pushing him around and it took me a few songs before I realized that this was her way of expressing her love for him. The rest of us are jumping and screaming the lyrics.
The show is well-paced, Numb mix the slower numbers up with the harder faster songs so the crowd is constantly riding this wave that swells and crests. I think they did almost everything off Blood Meridian (except Alien Hand and Spasm). I guess it was about the fifth or sixth song when Gordon stepped out from behind the keyboards and strapped on the guitar and my brain got a shock as I figured out they were about to do Wasted Sky, which for a period during 1995 I think I listened to 25 times a day minimum. These days Wasted Sky sounds much slower than their newer stuff, but I still dig that throbbing riff and the catchy ending verse: too much is nothing nothing.
The encore was a song I totally forgot about: their cover of Salt n Pepa's Push It which appeared on Operation Beatbox. Their version sounds more like a rape song than the original sex-positive ditty, but seeing Numb do it live tempered its nastiness a bit.
During the show you really get caught up in David Collings' antics and it's easy to overlook Don Gordon's brilliant aggressive arrangements. But it's really he who carries everything. He's just standing in the back playing with his keyboards, smiling, shaking his head at the hijinx, knowing all along that it's all his doing. He's the catalyst for all this frenzy.
I can't remember the last time I had so much fun at an industrial show. Dodging mic stands and water pitchers, helping a sweaty David Collings up off the floor.. I was happy. Funny how such dark apocalyptic music can bring a smile to my face.