i have to start a band. upon leaving monday’s performance by mr. greengenes, with the history of mediocre bar band shows ringing in my ears, i uttered this very phrase. the mr. greengenes show provided the impetus, the seed of an idea that would burst into wondrous bloom by the time we gave up waiting on line for entrance into the venue where the underground were playing.

one can only put up with so much banality before they can take no more and throw their own hat into the ring, vowing to be “different.” mr. greengenes were, dare i say it, pretentious, as far as bar bands go. they had a percussionist. they were occasionally given to really bad guitar squalls. the lead singer was far too well versed in the mannerisms of rap-rockers as seen in videos beginning with faith no more’s “epic” and ending with 311’s “down,” with special attention paid to the grandaddy of them all, “give it away.” he had a nasal voice too, i believe he even jested about it. the radio commercials which featured the lollipop guild singers from the wizard of oz suddenly make a lot more sense now. the venue was paddock’s, alternately called by members of my party “PAD-dock” or “pa-DOCK!” like a squawking bird. it is a bar, simple and plain. the waitresses and bartenders were scantily clad and hot, so scantily clad to the point where one didn’t even have to trouble themselves with fantasizing about them nude and so hot that one needn’t worry about one of them ever touching your person. the ringing in my ear from the performance has since faded, thankfully, a perfomance that included a rendition of kid rock’s “cowboy” (yay!) and david gray’s “babylon” (boo!). points for not doing merely a tribute to modern rock radio, which brings us to…

WAX! awful! even my friends who like this kind of music agreed. the band came close to approximating the heavy sound of today’s modern rock, but the singer, well, he did not. after their take on godsmack’s “awake,” i gained unfathomable depths of appreciation for the vocal skill of THEIR lead singer. put simply, modern rock requires a singer with authority, with a commanding presence — wax’s singer lacked both, as if he were merely plucked from the audience at random before the show because he had a “disturbed” t-shirt. a shame, because the setup at seacrets, that night’s venue — and also where the underground would perform — was the best i’ve ever seen for a shitty club band. for God’s sake, they had a JUMBOTRON SCREEN behind them, to capture every lame pose and exhortation for the crowd to “scream.” setlist was filled with predictable faves like linkin park, the aforementioned godsmack, creed, staind…if you like these bands, think of other bands you like and they probably played them too, and to show they had range, they did white rap classix like “jump around” and, oh yes, “butterfly”. onstage patter went invariably along the lines of “does anyone like NICKELBACK?” where “nickelback” could be replaced with any band name. my “no”s were cruelly ignored and thus wax made “the list.”

i never did get to see the underground, not related to “velvet” or any other particular underground that comes to mind, barring a brief view at the feed from the jumbotron. they did american hi-fi’s “freak of the week” and the lead singer had a backwards hat. oh, this band actually had a chick in it and she, as i’m sure you’ve guessed by no– no, she didn’t play the tambourine. she in fact played keyboards. while the underground did damage to the main stage, we found ourselves sitting at a table by the bay as reggae music wafted through the evening air and discussed things like whether or not girls have it easier than guys when it comes to dating and whether or not we’d stay with a woman we married if she became incapacitated afterwards, part of a long line of “what would you do?” questions prompted by the song of the same name, most of which are too crass to get into here…but oh how we laughed.

what we didn’t discuss was my plans for a band, a band that would one day rule the world with a gloved fist. during greengenes, disgusted by their normalcy, i’d come up with the basic concept. i’d be the front personally and i’d wear a dress and either beat myself about the face or, less painfully and more realistically (relatively speaking), i’d apply makeup to make myself look like i was beaten — a complete powderkeg of gender issues. to this, i’d add an unlit cigarette which would remain so. the band would wear masks and black, this much was certain, but what i debated, what i went back and forth about was the kind of mask, the kind of black attire. i narrowed it down to two choices: o.j. simpson masks, with black from glove to boot or mummenschanz masks, with black leotards. i remain undecided.

at the wax show, thumbing my nose at the k-rock or, for ocean city residents, 93.5 the beach playlist, i came up with OUR playlist. after the poor reception “holly holy” received at the (actual) beach that morning — i always throw in songs i know my friends like and then add in a wild card to gauge reaction —
i concluded that we’d play neil diamond and neil diamond only. seeing as how i myself only like about 10 or so neil diamond songs, i added motorhead to the repertoire, along with a smidgen of belle and sebastian and, of course, the new york dolls. all of which, and here’s the TWIST!!, would be played as soul covers. how they’ll play horns through the masks is a logistical nightmare that i haven’t yet begun to unravel.

on line (on line! waiting!) for the underground, passing the time as freakishly accurate doppelgangers of friends in absentia passed by, i determined our name and how we would sell ourselves. the name: freddie and the dreamers, a perfect blend of bad irony and wide-eyed optimism. i would be animated, doing splits and kicks and dishing out abuse to audience, my disdain for whom would be palpable, while the masked figures would be stoic and still, striking their instruments somberly. our posters would be 8×10 glossies of me, individually kissed by yours truly, signed “hope to see you at the show tonight. love, freddie. p.s. DARE TO DREAM.” it was at this point that it became perfectly clear that i was aiming for the strokes position — criminally ignored in our homeland, loved abroad. sure, it won’t be easy finding four to six talented musicians who are completely egoless, but i dare to DREAM! i dare to be DIFFERENT! or at least ape better BANDS! so if you think this is a great idea, drop me a line before i come to my senses. if you’re a chick and you think that this is absolutely BRILLIANT, i’ll propose marriage to you as long as you’re between the ages of 17 and 20 and are “fresh-faced.”

or, at the very least, i’ll let you play tambourine.