Yucca Tap Room is a d-i-v-e. I arrived alone--the curse of liking a crappy at best pop-punk band that hit its stride in 2003. I scooted right up to the front and planted myself by the mic.
Kris didn't start setting up until midnight. It was hot. I stood with my arms crossed, but I was inadvertently in the middle of a group of friends. Two super husky girls and two nice guys. One nice guy chatted with me. I was uninterested in making friends, but I couldn't walk away since I had to save my spot. This guy ended up asking me out and gave me his number. This doesn't really happen anymore, and I complain about it: "Remember when guys used to just ask you out at random?!" But, I will not call him. "He doesn't know anything about me. It's too random." Cake--eating it too--something something something.
The Ataris opened with "In This Diary"--highly surprising. And then BOOM EXPLOSION OF CRAZY. I had been to bonkers punk shows in high school, but I always stood far far away. The other times I've seen The Ataris, there was bopping, but not bop-ping. This time? I was shoved, beat, knocked--all before the first chorus. The crowd was insane and moshing like mad. The husky girls were being shoved against the speakers. I understood their husk. Survival!
Things that happened:
-As I got ping-ponged around, I noticed a solid hand on my back. I followed it back to a large Mexican woman who looked at me with maternal love. "That's me!" she yelled. "I'm okay!" I yelled as the crowd jostled me. She shook her head. Her arm served as a wall around the hooligans for the first three songs. I was willing to get swept away, but she pulled me close. Said "NO!" to a scrappy little kid with gauges trying to worm his way front.
-When the major crowd-surfing started during "Your Boyfriend Sucks," I got knocked into the middle of the pit and almost fell backwards, but I grabbed the hand of some guy, and he covered me in a bear hug and pulled me sideways. I felt like he had dove from a lifeguard stand to pull me out of the undertow. All these people, holding each other, but then pushing. Like some real drama, but it was self-created. Is that how all problems are. We must rely on one another to save us from the catastrophes we've made for ourselves.
-I felt safe on the side by "Takeoffs and Landings," but, no. Out of nowhere, some guy shoved me right into a moving crowd and I fell the ground. I was about to be tramped when three guys rushed to pick me up. The Mustafa wildebeest scene, people. It occurs to me how absolutely lucky I am to be a girl. People will save me. I did not have to worry about saving anyone else. Unfair, but true.
-It was an all-star setlist, which was kind of a bummer. i wanted some older weird stuff, but the crowd was happy. By the end, I was safely in the very back patch of folks who weren't even singing along. I jumped up and down to "San Dimas." It was over.
-In the bathroom, I checked-in. I was covered in sweat, an earring had been ripped out, my headband long gone, hair everywhere.
-I left and breathed deep in the fresh air. I biked the three miles home unable to hear a darn thing.
Stay who you are. Stay who you are.