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Show Review/Angry Rant/Defence of Hipster Guys

Posted by Trixie / June 13, 2007

yousaypartywesaydie.jpgSometimes when you go to see a show, the night manages to be about the show itself—you can concentrate on the music and the performance, for better or for ill. But sometimes the night highjacks your attention from the show, even if you try to not have it be so. The latter was the case on the occasion of the You Say Party! We Say Die! appearance at Le Divan Orange.

Now, say what you will about so-called hipster venues, at least generally a gal can count on not being hassled overly much by the fellas. Whether this is out of actual sensitivity/politeness or plain awkwardness isn’t the point, at least not in the moment. I’m sure sexual resentment and a sense of male entitlement simmers within the hearts of hipster boys as much as within guys elsewhere, but some kind of social etiquette (perhaps a mixture of feigned nonchalance, ironic stance, and an investment, authentic or just for show, in reconstructed gender relations) tends to foreclose on the need for the ladies to constantly fend off rude and blatant harassment.

Nevertheless, sometimes when I or my friends venture outside of this milieu—and we do venture such—we can be unpleasantly reminded that a demographic reared on political correctness certainly has its drawbacks, but does at least provide for a quite dependably comfortable environment. Outside of this, in terms of nightlife, often a less constrained form of courtship can prevail.

Heading out to the Main alone on a sultry June night is not, I admit, the best way for a woman to avoid the painful awareness that being a woman alone out at night is not a good thing. I assumed a Sunday would be fairly tame, but the restless summer eve spirit was compounded by Fringe festivities.

And so, heading to, and from, and being at the show involved a minefield of keyed-up, liquored-up men, hanging out singly or in packs, smoking in front of various clubs and venues and looking for anything that might resemble a female to enhance their good time. And since I do bear just such a likeness, I found myself unavoidably swept up in several near altercations that involved being swarmed by middle-aged men who believed, I gather, that they could charm me into consorting with them by invitations to party and to dance, and by generally getting in my face, blocking my path, grabbing at me, and hollering and hooting.

In Montreal you get the special treatment that bilingualism offers: often if the interlocutor starts out in one language and fails to get the desired response, he will switch languages, assuming, I suppose, that any girl, Anglo or Francophone, just needs to be wooed in her preferred tongue in order to capitulate.

The thing is, I was already in such a bad mood that evening that all the interference didn’t even really spook me (thankfully enough people in general were around) but just entrenched my sense of annoyance, bitterness, and discomfort. Needless to say, it didn’t help in my enjoyment of the bands.

Sometimes it’s fun to go alone to shows, but this was one time when an accompanying friend was a crucial accessory—maybe then I could have thrown my savage mindset headlong into spirited revelry. Instead I spent the time talking myself down, and ordering organic ginger ale because it seemed like the only potable beverage in the room so stuffy it was turning my stomach.

One problem with Le Divan Orange as a venue is that you either have to really get into it and, braving the brutal heat, push forward into the small area in front of the band, or you linger near the back, where you inevitably feel disconnected from the proceedings. I caught most of opener Great Northern, and could tell that this was a good-looking, potentially exciting band, with a rich lush harmony-laden dream-rock sound. They also had cool aesthetically distinctive merch, sweetly presented by the adorable and achingly stylish female band members.

During the break I wandered outside for some air, whereupon my arm was grabbed by a tall, fantastically drunk man in cut-off jeans and with some arcane word or symbol scrawled across his forehead in black magic marker. He had installed himself in the vestibule of a nearby store and apparently he fancied that I would join him and his bottle of Jack and fistful of cigarettes. He met my every rebuke with a loony grin, and it took some serious wrangling before I could get my arm out of his grip and away from him.

So after that, what can I say? The obvious charms of You Say Party! We Say Die! were pretty much lost on me. Though they do definitely come across as a great party/dance band, raucous, high-spirited, and engaging, with layered songs that are punky and pretty, and again with ultra style-y women.

To end this lengthy, perhaps, admittedly, self-indulgent rant on a high-note, I’d like to acknowledge the kind, classy gentleman who diffused a further difficult situation with the aforementioned boozy interloper. When the latter wandered into the bar near the end of the headliners set and, after standing around with hands up in the universal sign of rock show appreciation, took a seat next to me, this nice young fellow, quickly sussing up the situation, immediately came over and intercepted the attentions of Drunk Guy.

And he did it so admirably, by simply, and firmly, offering distractions that led the man away. Which is just so classy because while I absolutely did not want to deal with any unwanted attentions, nor did I relish a brusque altercation of the kind that involves what too often comes down to an overly-disparaging, class-based “we-don’t-want-your-kind-around-here” aggression. I’ve seen too many street people thrown out of establishments in just such a psychically violent way and I don’t want to be implicated in it. Especially since this guy was pushy and maddening but seemed basically harmless; jocks or John Molson School of Business guys are usually the ones who feel far more threatening when they decide they are owed your companionship because they are loaded and you’re an unaccompanied chick in the vicinity.

Classy act number two: And then the nice young fellow retreated. I was suitably impressed that he got the job done and then didn’t hang around in anticipation of my gratitude. But grateful I was, and so I made sure to go over and thank him. And I thought to myself, this is how nice hipster guys get laid.

Random Photo of You Say Party! We Say Die! performance. Credit unknown.



Remi / June 13, 2007 at 11:40 am
Great rant. Gender and class issues, all rolled into a show review - bravo!
miss agonie =^_^= / June 13, 2007 at 06:12 pm
i feel you. i've been living in the south of france (marseille) for a couple of months; don't go there. cause this rant used to apply to my everyday routine.
scott / June 14, 2007 at 02:01 pm
eeesh. ugly. i walked by le divan during the street sale and was surprised by the number of...uh...non-divan-type clientelle huddled around the place. maybe they enjoyed more "walk in" (read: stumble in) traffic than usual. bad times / good review.

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