Thursday, July 22 - Music in the Park - San Jose - Free Show
For more than two years, JD and I lived in an old house in San Jose, a house that slowly turned into some kind of commune once we left. We had two girl roommates, one of whom worked for the event planning company that put on the weekly Music in the Park series. I would "volunteer" at these events. I put "volunteer" in quotes there because (a) I was paid (often quite handsomely) in tips, (b) I don't think any kind of charitable organization or cause benefited at all from anything I did, and (c) I mostly just drank free beers. I had one of three jobs:
(1) Check IDs, Hand Out Wristbands.
I was like a ninja at this. I attached that adhesive part with blinding precision. Not like the guy at the New Pornographers show last Sunday who somehow got 85% of my total body hair stuck to that thing. Have some pride in your job, guy.
(2) Pour Beers
Here is what would happen: The keg taps were in the back of the beer booth. Beer was sold, obviously, in the front. Between the sellers (the girls ... we were working for tips, after all) and the pourers (guys like me) was a table. We would pour the beers, then line them up on the table, where the sellers could hand them out. These are heavy-drinking events, with big crowds, and constant lines. The average beer sat on that table for, no exaggeration, 15-30 seconds. Yet constantly (CONSTANTLY!) we would get idiots refusing their beers with a disdainful, "Hey c'mon, let me get a fresh one." Working in the service industry makes you hate everyone.
(3) Work the VIP Tent
This was the greatest job I have ever had, or will ever have. There are several tents toward the back of the park, and local companies would rent them out for their clients, employees, whoever. They would be stocked with food and drink, and everything inside was free. Basically, it was my job to hand this stuff out. This, somehow, led to absolutely insane tipping. I have no idea why. Dudes would slide a twenty across the table and say, "Make sure you keep 'em coming." Um ... there are 8 people in this tent. I have four kegs, and this whole thing lasts three hours. Also, it's my job to keep 'em coming. I think you would have been okay without this investment, but ... awesome. I would make $200-$300 in three hours. (Now, I know that this is way less than cute girl bartenders make every night. I know this isn't some kind of world-shattering amount of money. But, on these same Thursdays, I would bartend the lunch shift at the Old Spaghetti Factory, and sometimes not serve one drink the entire four hours. I would leave with $30 in server tips, and I knew they were being generous. For me, this was like hitting the lottery.)
So Music in the Park is an institution very close to my heart. This Thursday, they've taken a break from their usual classic rock programming and booked Gaslight Anthem, whose American Slang is almost definitely going to end up as my favorite album of 2010 (prove me wrong, Arcade Fire).
I was hesitant to promote this, since it takes place in San Jose, and also early in the evening (headliner will probably come on around 7-7:30). People have jobs, I thought, and getting down to San Jose that early would be a hassle. Then I realized that most of my friends either (a) don't have jobs, or (b) live/work in the South Bay already.
So come. Great music. Good food. A chance to hear JD and I tell "Glory Days" stories. And it's free.
Since all the best songs from American Slang will eventually make their way onto my Halfway Point 100 list, here's the title track from Gaslight Anthem's equally excellent 2008 offering.
Gaslight Anthem - "The '59 Sound"
And here's a video of their lead singer onstage with Bruce Springsteen. Every person in this video seems to be having the greatest time it is possible for a human being to have. I could watch it over and over. It's just joy.