Friday, February 6, 2015

Impallor: Manson at the Sound Academy

Toronto is bitterly cold when I arrive. Attempting to scrupulously avoid whatever mystery opener is gracing the stage tonight, I arrive at eight thirty, my ride letting me out as the motorcade in front of us slows down, a gaudy salt-stained white Hummer stretch limo illegally parked, evincing the curb in favour of half of the narrow road more narrow by the furrow of fresh snow deposited by the snow plows.

Waiting in line, I see what seems to be a familiar face: mid-length, straight brown hair and beard, black woollen tuque. I begin to get nervous; I have so dearly hoped to avoid all encounters with singularities. Breathing in the sharp bite of winter, I realize there were no glasses, and thus, it can’t be who I thought it was. Now breathing slower, I am able to patiently wait amidst the punctuating “Hot dogs, sausage here”, and a laughable “cold drinks!”

The venue isn’t entirely novel to me, but I’m a bit disoriented upon entering, and quickly look for a washroom, the Grey Goose and Crown Royal having already begun to engender alcohol dehydrogenase, or, in layman’s terms — the booze demands to ooze. After a bit of wandering though the cloying crowds, blading my body between the blossoming floor and bar patrons, I find a washroom and gratefully answer nature’s call.

Returning to the ever-burgeoning floor, I find myself, and so many others, unable to navigate the venue, the crowd having swollen all the way back to the bar. An enterprising young man with drinks in hand cuts past me, disclaiming “I’ve got three ladies waiting for drinks” and, seizing the moment, I follow in his immediate wake, feigning friendship to move to the centre-mass of the hive. I continue past where he stops, looking around to see if there’s anyone I can recognize — part truth, part charade. Comfortable with where I’m standing, I visualize the half milligram of clonazepam working in tandem with the two ounces of wheat vodka and the nip of rye.

The waiting begins. Looking to stage right, I believe I see a true figuration of my earlier panic: hair closer cropped, trimmer facial hair, nose marginally made maculate, black framed glasses perched thereon. I start breathing faster, the inventory of chemicals a mantra recited under my breath. I am not that person anymore. I never was. I eclipse this. In the spirit of eclipses, I position the head of another between me and this would-be geist. Anonymity in obscurity.

Around quarter past nine, smoke swallows the stage, occluding any sight of the Antichrist, and the cheering begins. Mozart’s Requiem first leaks, then blasts from the speakers, and lights begin to bleed through the blizzard of smoke. As it reaches its zenith, the lights flood the stage, and the man and the band pierce the veil, and the distended crowd roars in delight.

Swimming through the shroud like a spectre, Manson emerges and white lights lance through the obscurity, sanguine lights slowly leaking blood-red up and across the stage and audience. Twiggy emerges looking like something out of Electroma, followed by Gil Sharone, Tyler Bates, and Paul Wiley, black lines circling their faces like scars across canvas-white faces. Manson launches into Deep Six, and when he asks “Wanna know what Zeus said to Narcissus?” my paranoia is subsumed by ego-fixation; I scream, a choir, “YOU BETTER WATCH YOURSELF!”

Disposable Teens and mOBSCENE follow, the singles padding the deeper cuts and newer material, and in my bipolarity No Reflection echoes the psychic divide in a hellish, gemini scream: “I don’t know which me that I love, I’ve got no reflection”.

Between songs, Twiggy tosses a pick out, and it smacks the guy next to me in the chest. “I can’t find it,” he shouts; I shout back, “It’s probably right beneath you — with this crowd, you’re never going to find it!”

As the band launches into Sweet Dreams, a guy behind my left shoulder — behind my friend with the missing pick — has been trying to wedge his way in front of me, in spite of the fact we’re three metres from the front and there is literally no room, starts evoking the face of another (allegedly) scorned facade. I feel hostility radiating from their person, heavy and cloying, and as the attempts to elbow through me continue, I envision a fleeting moment of incisive, violent pressure and release — a blade dancing through a ribcage too close for comfort. But as the music continues, and as I repeatedly deny the persistent attempts to push forwards, the shithead finally asks the guy next to me to lift him, and turning to expedite the removal of this untoward mongrel, I see the entirety of his face; all my fears collapse, proving pure paranoia.

I hoist the asshole up and over, a grin on my face.

Fear is exorcised with the spectre surfing forwards on Stygian hands.

During Cupid Carries a Gun, Bates seems to suffer from inadequate volume in the mix, or just plain old signal flow issues, much to my disappointment. Carrying on, Manson makes violent gestures off-stage, doubtless ready to rend a sound tech’s limbs from their sockets with his grille-clad teeth. My disappointment at the diluted Cupid is ameliorated when a guy squished up beside me passes me the tail end of a joint without me even asking — friends of the pit provide. In only the most fitting of fashions, I am auspiciously stoned for both Rock Is Dead and The Dope Show, Manson swaggering around in a snakeskin jacket and fox stole in customary fashion. When the band begins Third Day of a Seven Day Binge, the previously tepid song has new life breathed into it by the jaw-dropped timbre of Twiggy’s bass and rig; something about his worn Precision Bass and-or the head/cab combo tie the song together, and, grinning, I send out an orison for a live recording of the song to later appear on the interweb. I later find out that Manson hurts, if not flat-out breaks his knee, thus The Mephistopheles of Los Angeles is axed from the set — something I’ll find out later in writing this piece.

But Manson soldiers through the rest of the set; after a riotous rendition of The Beautiful People, the performance culminates in Manson barking, “We…hate”, the crowd and myself crying out and completing the doxology: “LOVE” — “We…love” “HATE”; Irresponsible Hate Anthem detonates, an atom bomb on stage.

After the damage is done, Manson, bandaged and blood-soaked, soaks a lily-smothered, lily-blossoming mic stand for the encore, Coma White, silver confetti lazily drifting down and reminding me of the inclement weather waiting in the wings.

As the cheering and applause dies down and the perennial pushing forwards relents, I look to my feet for the wayward pick, and, surprisingly enough, I locate it. The guy who was hit by it is watching, and, feeling fraternal and magnanimous toward my non-elbowing concert chum, I hand it to him and say, “It’s yours, man,” knowing I’ve caught my fair share of honest picks in the past.

I’m simply glad to have exorcised my myriad ghosts.

As I exit the venue, I hum: “snakes can’t kneel or prey, try to break my psyche down…”