Friday, 17 August 2012

"I still haven't got a clue what any Breeders songs are about and fuck knows I'm not worrying about it now"

I WAS AT THIS SHOW! H/t to Pamzine #6 for bringing it all back. It was the first (and so far only) time I have borne witness to the awesomeness that is The Breeders live. It was a sticky, overcast day in summer '02, and we got down to the Astoria (RIP) super early to make sure we'd secure a sweet spot front and centre to the stage, all the better to adore the Deal sisters and their glorious garage jams. We were total babydykes at the time, and some of the older lesbians we'd made friends with on the club scene were also queuing. One of them needed to visit the loo, but didn't wanna risk losing her place in the queue. Shamelessly, she stuck her hands into her knickers and pulled out a bloodied tampon, tossing it away down a side street. I remember thinking it was a total show-off move; she was out to wow us babydykes with her radical Jennifer Finch-style cunt politics. We were grossed out and impressed in equal measures, so I suppose it worked. I was told a few years later that her girlfriend at the time of the gig had beaten her regularly during their relationship. I don't know if this was fact or just a nasty rumour, but it was the first time that lesbian domestic violence had entered my consciousness. It sounds naive now, but back then, processing the idea that this kind of abuse wasn't limited to the hetero world was a huuuuge, disturbing headfuck, even if my own dysfunctional background meant I understood the invisibleness that often cloaks domestic violence victims, and the paradoxes that are normally at work, masking everything; how you can be a gutsy, assertive rebelgrrrlhero to your friends and also, away from them, a closet victim, too lacking in strength and self-esteem to exit an abusive relationship/friendship/family dynamic, or ever expect anything better for yourself. I never saw the tampon-missile dyke again, but I remember everything about the gig: how my friend dropped an E and had a panic attack just as The Breeders tore into the opening chords of No Aloha; how I learned to use my arms to protect my ribs from being crushed against the metal barrier when the chorus on Cannon Ball kicked in and the huge, sweaty, heaving crowd behind me surged forward; how I basked in the thrill of pretending I was strong enough to single-handedly withstand that sea of moshing, pogo-ing bodies like some mini Hulk; how I knew all the lyrics, sung (screamed) the loudest and won the coveted set list prize at the end of the show when Kelley Deal instructed the security guard manning the barrier to pass me that magical sheet of crumpled white paper.

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