Lewd Behavior, Debauchery, and Irepress: A Beautiful Night Out in Boston

14 Jul

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Sometimes the easiest things are the most complicated. Yeah, that’s a bit of a cliche oxymoron, but you know exactly what I’m talking about. You’re trying to make plans with your friends, and then comes up the issue that everyone has been avoiding. Who’s driving? Such a simple question, yet its implications carry so much weight and importance, you might as well ask, “Who’s the human sacrifice this week?”

No matter what, in any situation when driving is necessary, the responsibility falls on the driver in every scenario. They are supposed to be the one with a clear head and the ability to reason and rationalize. Even if you’re not going out for a night on the town, however, in your standard group of friends, no one wants to be the one to drive. It’s just so much more fun riding shotgun.

Saturday Night Begins

We’d been in a make-shift chat room for over an hour trying to hammer out our plans to see Irepress in Boston on Saturday night. Irepress, a popular local band, was more than just a reason to get into the city. The band comes from our hometown of Sharon, but it still goes further than that. I suppose if you’re not cool enough to be in a band, a very far second is knowing someone in a band. My friend Adam’s older brother Bret is the guitar player for Irepress, and aside from seeing some shows in the past, we’ve seen Bret and the other members of Irepress at Adam’s house and parties around town.

Irepress was just finishing up a tour in preparation for their new CD being released in October. and Boston was their big homecoming party. We wanted to go in to support a band we like. We wanted to go in to get away from the drudgery of small town living. And most importantly, we wanted to go in to have a good time.

After arguing through an agonizingly long chat room, Adam agreed to drive to Riverside T station, where we would take the Green Line into the city. We had just enough time to make it to Riverside, a 30 minute drive from Sharon, and tailgate in the parking lot before jumping on the train. As poor recent grads, we needed to spend as little in Boston as possible. Downing a few beers by the trunk, we watched the sun setting behind the trees, magnifying the gold, crimson, and purple tint of the atmosphere. Such colors are only truly visible during a sunset, the perfect time to stand around and appreciate something beautiful, now that the day is over. Nothing beats a good sunset after a long day. Yeah, the night was already off to a good start.

Buzzing Through Beantown

By the time we got into Boston it was dark, but the temperature was still hovering around 75 degrees; a tasty little night in the city, amplified by the crowds fleeing from Fenway Park. Irepress was headlining the show at Bill’s Bar on Landsdowne Street, right across from the park. Someone told us the score of the game was 12-1 in the 7th, and the Sox were winning. I was disgusted to see so many people leaving so early in the game. If you’re going to pay $80 to see the game, you might as well stay until they kick you out. I started to say, kind of loudly and on purpose, actually, “Sure is a fairweather night out. I love this fairweather in Boston.” Some people walking by looked, but everyone else was so consumed by the joy of leaving a blow out that they hardly noticed anything until a little boy decided to throw his 32 ounce soda filled with ice over the guard rail and onto the Mass Pike.

I was shocked; here we were in this crowded street over a stretch of highway, where you can find Jesus freaks, bums asking for money, magicians, garbage can drum heroes, and happy families wearing their brand new Sox hats and jerseys all sharing the same sidewalk peacefully, and this little brat threw a potentially deadly object into oncoming traffic. And no one cared. I immediately scolded the boy, telling him he could kill someone and asking if he was nuts. He paid no attention to me, acting as if he’d seen much worse in his few years. Seeing that it made no use, we continued on to Landsdowne Street, dodging fans left and right.

After getting some sandwiches for $7 from a stand outside the park, we went over to Bill’s Bar. Just before heading into the city we’d bought our tickets online for a dollar more, just for the peace of mind that it wouldn’t be sold out when we got there. It was a clean $11 to get in to the bar. The opening acts had already started, and I bought the first round. I laughed when I realized I’d have to pay $24 for the beers, including the tip. It could have been worse, and it wound up being the only round I had to buy that night, but hell, when you pay your job to work, it hurts no matter what.

Soon one round turned into three or four, and the night was going really well. In a blur of interesting conversations that were barely audible as I yelled over the music, the opening acts went on and went off. More friends showed up and soon it seemed like half of the crowd was from my town, all there to support the band. It was a nice show of support for community that you don’t see a whole lot anymore, mixed in with the constant flow of beer and liquor to the eager supporters.

It’s About the Music!

By the time Irepress was warming up, the crowd was swimming in anticipation. You could sense it in the air. You knew it was going to be an awesome show, and in a way, that was as exciting as seeing them play. Like a meal tasting the best before you dig in, this was going to be worth every minute.

I shoved my way to the front of the stage in left-center, with two of the speakers right in front of my face. I figured I’d be deaf within a few minutes, but the sound waves must have been traveling over my head and smacking the guy in back of me, because the noise damage wasn’t even that severe.

Irepress started to play and the place went wild, everyone bouncing their heads in rhythm and time. The band has no lead singer or lyrics, so everything is dependent on the instruments telling the story and getting the fans into it. The performance is key, but ultimately it comes down to the quality of the musicians, who put on a show that leaves more than ringing in the ears. With long songs, some going eight minutes or so, you find yourself drawn into the music and the scene, forgetting that you have a crappy job, forgetting that you’re low on cash, or forgetting that you’re spending a fortune on drinks. It’s just good music that you can nod your head to and have a good time with.

Making It in the Music World

In order to help support the band, some of the members are invested in a T-shirt company called SweetTime Clothing. A brand that appeals to many shoppers who buy from companies like Hurley and Billabong, shoppers like this brand because it is environmentally friendly and is like many other companies were before they made it big and “sold out.” In today’s music scene, in order to survive, a band must find other sources to get the word out. More important than record sales are the effectiveness of the word of mouth and touring, which have always been a backbone of recording artists.

Because music can so easily be shared on the Internet, record sales no longer dictate how popular a band is. If you can show me one person under 25 who’s purchased all of their music from their MP3 player legally, I’ll show you a leprechaun with a pot of gold. Bands have caught on to this, and now many offer their songs streaming through their Web sites, rather than trying to fight it. At least with this method, bands can attract more listeners to their Web site, where you can see advertisements for upcoming shows and merchandise. If you can get enough good press and fans, you just might make it on tour with a better-known band, thus drastically increasing your fan base.

These are just some of the elements that go into the chemistry of making it as a band today. But like I said, it all comes back to the music. If you want to make it big, the music has to speak for itself. In this case, Irepress has made the adjustments a band must make, and the music still speaks loud and clear.

The Aftershock

When the show ended we met outside the bar, some of the guys going home, others heading back to our friend Jackson’s apartment to spend the night. Those of us that stayed followed Jackson, who despite living in the area for a long time, has a lousy sense of direction and sometimes takes people the wrong way. As we made our way through The Fens, my friend Ajay suddenly put me in a headlock from behind and took me down. We both crashed down laughing, making a huge scene. My knee was scraped up, but nothing compared to Chris, who for some reason had cuts all over his bicep and elbow on both arms. It looked like he’d been attacked by a cougar while trying to scale a barbed wire fence. He couldn’t explain what had happened. The alcohol was making its move.

Jackson later told me that The Fens is a pretty bad area, as homeless people will hang out there at night, and occasionally, target someone. It was probably a good thing I didn’t know that at the time, otherwise being suddenly attacked from behind could have really raised an eyebrow or two.

Singing in the street, on-lookers watched as we marched towards the apartment. Suddenly, Ajay fell flat on his face. If you’ve seen enough Family Guy episodes, you know their signature one-frame fall scenes. Basically, a character will be standing perfectly still and in the next moment they’re instantly on their face in an impossibly rapid fall. Somehow, Ajay pulled it off, and right in front of a cop car.

The cop simply looked at him for a second, then pulled up to me and another friend and said, “You guys make sure he gets home ok,” and he drove off. He had bigger fish to fry.

Once he was back on his feet, Jackson led us to a late night pizza shop where we were able to order practically half a pie for $3. We finally got to Jackson’s apartment, a huge brownstone near the Green line and Northeastern University, where he’s completing his undergraduate degree. The night was still beautifully cool, and we rushed up to his roof to eat the pizza and continue being idiots.

Once on top, we had a tremendous view of Back Bay, all of the buildings lit up in a display of engineering masterpieces and wasteful energy consumption. After all, who’s up working on the 23rd floor of John Hancock at 2 am on Sunday morning? The only building I could recognize was the Prudential Building, but everything else has been a fixture in my memory of Boston since I’ve been coming into the city from the south when I was seven years old.

We heard that on his birthday a few months ago, Chris decided to jump the small gap between Jackson’s building and the neighboring building, horrifying all of us. The next morning when we saw the gap from the street, we called him a moron. He never even remembered doing it.

Chuck was peeing off the roof as three bike cops rode past, but none of them saw or cared. We ate our pizza and agreed it was a good thing Ajay never made it upstairs. He was already passing out on the kitchen floor with a huge slice of pepperoni pizza on his lap, drunk dialing an old girlfriend. Other people from neighboring buildings were on their roofs doing the same thing, and we could hear their shouts in between ours.

When we went back downstairs some people passed out and others stayed awake to watch Chris jump and roll over the pull out couch, eventually landing on his eye in pain and confusion. Jackson let some of us stay in his roommates’ rooms, but was afraid that one could come back that night. Coincidentally, it was the room where Goldberg and I shared a bed, Bryan sleeping at the foot of the bed on a mat. I wondered what the scene would be if a kid strolled in at 4 am to find people all over his living room, opening up his door and seeing two guys he doesn’t know sleeping in his bed. It would almost be worth it for the look on his face.

The night wound down and the lights went out. That’s always how the story has to eventually end, unless you live in the North or South Pole and just as the sun is setting, it starts to rise again. In this crazy city on a fun night, exhaustion made the most sense. We saw a good show, had drinks and food, and spent time with the friends that will eventually be spreading out. And there aint nothin’ wrong with that in my book.

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