Quote of the Weekend
"So we've got a new album out. It's pretty much like the other two; these guys play a lot of music and I talk a lot of bullshit."
Craig Finn of The Hold Steady
Black Cat, Washington DC
It seems I have discovered that the basement bar at Cafe St. Ex is, for all intents and purposes, the Black Cat's new green room. For the second "show in a row" I have avoided the opening acts by hiding at St. Ex -- trying to comprehend silent and un-subtitled anime while slugging beers and losing at eyeball tag -- and saw the headliner hanging out. If this happened twice to me alone, then I would guess that people playing shows at the Cat, especially on a weekend, often choose to hang out before the show at St. Ex rather than linger backstage. St. Ex in particular because it is a good bar and practically next door, but generally because backstage at the Cat isn't all that exciting.
I've had the good fortune of spending time backstage at both the 9:30 Club and the Black Cat and there are a few appreciable differences. Backstage at the 9:30 is your more typical Rock 'n Roll experience. There is a lounge area with weird furniture, a nice food spread, more booze than you can shake a stick at, drugs, and a lot of general wastedness -- although this was GBV so this could have been an in-store at Borders and there would still have been a lot of "general wastedness." Now this wasn't Behind the Music or anything and by and large the scene was pretty nonchalant but the point is that at the 9:30 there are some elements of the sterotypical Backstage Experience.
The Cat, on the other hand, is a somewhat different beast. Perhaps in keeping with its indie cred, the accomodations are pretty straightforward. A few doorless rooms (although maybe they have doors now, it's been a while), cobbled together furniture pieces, and except for the noise bleeding in from the Red Room, it's pretty quiet. Not exactly the bacchanalian environment one might envision. Now there is the one semi-scary bathroom up half a flight of stairs that looks like a convenient place for doing blow off of the sink or something shadey in the shower but I doubt that is a common occurrence. In reality I think there is something of a common strain that runs among many of the acts that come through the Black Cat and that is that they are not looking for any of that attendant rockstar bullshit. So it does make sense to show up to the club, drop off your gear, and stroll down the block to have some wine and food with friends before hitting the stage. Not a bad life...