in the front is Adam Klopp (vocals), and behind is Chaz Costello (bass)
It’s hard to measure time in the present; some experiences feel fleeting as they occur, some linger. I leaned against the wall of our local bar as Chua Chua Boogaloo played in the distance to a raucous crowd. Groups circled one another, some dancing what appeared to be bachata and others trying their best. I revel in being a spectator in these spaces, absorbing the energy of others, living vicariously through their experiences. As the crowd swelled, I turned my attention to the true social spectacle: the groups of people sitting on the outskirts of the dance circle. This audience is where honesty lies. The barback came to collect our empty drink glasses and I found a wet and crinkled $20 bill on the ground. We drank and laughed and I couldn’t shake the feeling that this is what we had been missing. The night moved at a steady pace; the hot summer air hung heavy over the evening. I enjoyed the music, still leaning against the wall, as the patio misters sprayed aggressively overhead. I thought back on the events of the night before this moment and was content for the first time since March of 2020.
We made our way down the stairs into the basement of a local bar to see the band Choir Boy, who were in town from Salt Lake City. With an early start, one opener, an after-party, the itinerary seemed ideal. We rushed to the bar to get our drink orders in, then found a spot close to the stage. As the crowd shuffled in, I was surprised to see many familiar faces pass which eased my anxiety.
The opening band took the stage -- an electronic duo under the moniker Body of Light -- two brothers, from Tempe who have been consistently putting out music for almost ten years and now find their home on the very chic label Dais Records. Playing a mix of darkwave and synth-pop, the vocalist came out sporting leather gloves and danced through the whole set. This was the first time I had seen them perform and not just listened from outside whichever venue they’ve played before. The energy of the crowd slowly grew throughout the set but stayed pretty timid. They ended with a track that almost sounded like Cities in Dust by Siouxsie and the Banshees.
I found myself at the bar ordering a double whiskey before the next set, talking to a friend about our after-show plans. There was an after-party with a good lineup of local DJs that would start as soon as the show ended, though we debated going to a different bar next door instead. After closing my tab, the overhead lights turned on and the bartender muttered ‘fire alarm’ to himself. For some reason, I wasn’t worried that there may have been a fire somewhere, I just wanted to drink my alcohol and make my way back to where my group was. Everyone seemed to feel the same way I did, that not even a fire could ruin our night.
Choir Boy took the stage and instantly I was set into a trance. Everyone was dressed nicely-- the main vocalist, Adam, was wearing a nice cropped pair of denim with a tucked-in shirt cut into a very loose tank top, making his tattoos visible. He sported a bald head and commanded the stage. I admired his commitment to this look because he wore it well. Tattooed on his right bicep in classic cursive was a name, Coco; I wondered about Coco for the rest of the night. The crowd enthusiastically mirrored the energy of the band, swaying and singing along beneath face coverings. They spoke to us and we spoke back, a wholesome exchange of niceties, as they thanked Body of Light and the bar. Adam quickly ran out of people to thank and concluded the sentiment with, ‘there are many others to thank.’ Which was true, but I wondered who else there was, really? The next song played. As the set drew to a close, I couldn’t shake the feeling that this was as close as we will get to having a contemporary band like The Cure; I was in awe of how the music translated live, as searingly honest and romantic as it sounded through my phone. I tried to think of any substantive questions I could ask any of the members should I run into them, but no such situation arose.
We gathered in the alley to take a breath, indulge in a cigarette, and gossip, before discussing what the rest of the night would look like. We agreed on getting one more drink and dancing for a bit, then going to get drinks elsewhere. As we walked down the stairs back into the basement I realized I lost my debit card. Fuck.
My friend Haran opened the after-party and kept the mood upbeat, imploring the crowd to move up to the stage. About 10 minutes into his set the fire alarm came on once again. The lights flicked on, illuminating the otherwise dark dance floor, and I was surrounded by many familiar people. Damnit.
We said our goodbyes, closed our tabs and made our way to another bar just a few blocks away.