The Ramblings of a Gen Xer

Monday, November 28, 2011

The Real Fight Club

When I heard that Orange County old-school punkers, Social Distortion, were coming to Buffalo, got on the phone and called my old-school-punk-rocker-now-gone-lawyer-buddy to see if he was up for the concert.

A short response of "Hell, yeah", secured the deal. 

So on a cold, rainy night two days before Thanksgiving, we made our way down to the Town Ballroom, fortified with Jim Beam, to carry on what us ex-punkers view as a right of continuing manhood. 

Jumping into the mosh-pit. 

After being proofed, not having it then going back to the car in a pissing cold rain to prove to the doorman I was well past the legal drinking age, we made our way into the bar and soon into the main hall. 

My bud, Mike, begun to get this glazed look in his eyes as the opening folk-punk band ripped out their three-cord angst, so started to provokingly bump into other such glazed-eyed concert goers. 

The mosh-pit was fermenting.

A few elbows up and the occasional collisions later, the opening act finished their set and made the way for Social D.  Nothing too intense, much like a first-string offensive series in a first preseason NFL game. 

Heading to the bar for one more boost of liquid painkillers, we downed the round and made our place to the balding spot on a packed floor where the mosh-pit was staked-out. 

Lights went black and Social D hit the stage.

And so did we. Well, not the stage; we hit each other...hard.

Since I was 18, "slam-dancing" was a way of expressing angst so aptly reflected in the music played at the various shows I went to. The Ramones, Violent Femmes, Fishbone, all became the background driving force behind the violent two hours of smashing into fellow moshers. 

More importantly, the same individuals who slammed into me felt the same way. Angry, spiteful and full of young men's "sturm and drang", we hit with elbows, kicked with army boots and grated with spiked wristbands. Bloodied, worn and exhausted, by concerts end, we were the walking wounded. 

Yet, despite this ultra-violence, we shook hands, hugged each other in camaraderie. We knew this battle wasn't waged against each other; we accepted that the enemy was unseen. 

And so we became therapeutic punching bags for one another. 

Not to romanticize the mosh-pit because it could get mean and ugly. Some drunk crazy fuck would jump into the fray, throwing elbows and fists, or the stupid jocks at the edge of the pit pushing the backs of exhausted mosher's into the fracas and laughing at it. 

By show's end, regardless of the random butthole's uncoolness, there was a sense of accomplishment among the participants. All the weight of the world's frustrations and our inability to do anything about it was absolved in those two-hours of moshing, and we felt a sense of relief and release. 

It was our Fight Club and we wore our badges of battle proudly. 

Several decades later on a cold, rainy November night, when the first chords of Social D's frontman, Mike Ness, rang in the Town Ballroom, the ritual of the mosh-pit "Fight Club" broke out. 

I don't remember which song was played when, and only by the intensity of the mosh-pit singled did I recognized a more familiar tune by Mike Ness and bandmates. 

What I remember was the bodies colliding, elbows slamming and boots kicking. I remembering finding myself on the beer-soaked barroom floor three times (receiving a nasty scrape on my elbow on the way down). I remember all the mosh-pit "etiquette" and the same drunk fool or dumb jock doing their idiotic duty. 

When the show was done, I remember feeling exhausted. 

I was bloodied, a mild-separated shoulder, a near-broken nose. My buddy, Mike, twisted his ankle, had a bloody lip, bit his tongue and both of us sucking wind at the end of the show. 

Our "Fight Club" was over. 

The next morning I was sore with a checked-board of bruises all-over my body. I called Mike and he felt the same way, but we were both fulfilled. 

Sure it was great show by old-school punkers and the music was gritty and good, but more importantly, we got out there and slammed for two hours getting out all that angst and other mid-life crisis crap. 

And all the while taking lumps and bruises, we were building on a uncommon way of building camaraderie, reenforcing a sense of manhood, and pounding on that great unseen enemy. 

We rejoined the real Fight Club. 

Matthew LaChiusa is the lead singer for Dick Whiskey and hopes to keep slammin' away until he is in his 60's. The Social Distortion show was amazing and the new material is outstanding. Long-live Mike Ness, the punk movement and venues who still provide that sound. 

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