House parties are the heart and soul of the Athens Music Scene. For all of its anti-bourgoise pretensions, the club scene is pretty much run by upper-middle class white kids with college educations. It’s not so much a glass ceiling as a diaphanous network- a set of hip cultural references, body postures and footwear choices which might appear random to the outside observer, but are actually as codified and rigid as a Japanese tea ceremony. Should one fail to communicate the proper pedigree, rejection is not communicated as much as it is implied- phone calls shall not be returned, emails will go unanswered, and word will creep back to the novitiate through the grapevine.
There are exceptions in the clubs, but they are rare.
House parties, on the other hand… House parties don’t care. House parties breathe cheap keg beer like air. House parties thrive on permissive law enforcement and crappy neighborhoods. Eleven o’clock is the witching hour, however, and last night, Brown Frown was struggling with alcohol poisoning and chemical dementia at 10:45. If at 11 pm, there’s enough noise to wake up the Mayor’s cat, then $100 noise citations shall be issued. Underage drinkers shall be carted off to jail. Cars will be towed.
Fortunately for Music Hates You, our practice space was 200 yards from last night’s party. At 10:50, we reloaded our gear into the van, threw the keg into the passenger seat and raced to the practice space. We threw up the big overhead door, turned up the amps and rocked out for something like 100 people in the shadow of the cement plant and the railyard. Yes, it was reckless- throwing a keg party in our practice space is in total violation of noise ordinances, drinking laws, common sense and our lease.
We packed so many people into our tiny rehearsal closet that all of the air got sucked up and turned to mashed sweet potatoes. Every time someone turned around to tune or adjust their volume (invariably, UP) their headstock would knock some punter nearly unconscious. We had our own little Hurricane Katrina of blood, sweat, watery beer and spit.
As we ran out of songs to play and began to succumb to the thick humidity and lack of oxygen, Noah announced “You’re gonna remember this. This is the night you came to Music Hates You’s practice space and partied while New Orleans died.”
I don’t know what time we finally ran everyone off, but no one wanted to leave until the rumor of approaching law enforcement made the decision for us.
Another night in the life….