I hadn't even planned on going out on NYE; I didn't feel like partying, plus it being amateur night and all. But my friend Matt was in town, and the three glasses of wine that I had during dinner at the Bonefish Grill put me in a better mood (great chain - never had a bad meal there). So what the hey. Matt's wife, Alisha wisely decided not to join us and stayed in after eating.
First we went to a club in downtown Pensacola called Vinyl, which usually books fairly good acts. Usually. But there was one of those electronic banner signs inside above the bar and the scrolling message read: "Coming Soon - Queensryche!" Oh boy! I wondered which band they might have lined-up after that, Ratt? The Scorpions?
No Queensryche tonight though. The place was strangely empty. On stage was an '80s cover-band (Motley Crue, Poison, etc.) that wasn't half-bad. But they weren't half-good either. The lead singer had that high, screechy Vince Neil-type of voice that brought me right back to the 1980's and reminded me why I don't want to be there anymore.
They were soon replaced by a band of Guns N' Roses impersonators. Only, the lead singer seemed to be channeling the later "Fat Axl" Rose and not the skinny-druggie-just-starting-out Axl. And we are absolutely certain that the drummer was wearing a wig.
Why does it seem that up close, guys in these cover-bands always look so...flabby? Ick. Hey, we want our rock stars to be lean...and angry...and young. Instead, we get paunchy guys in their late-20's who've been trying to make a living singing other people's songs and eating way too much McDonalds instead of spending their time being strung out on cocaine and writing songs like, "Welcome To The Jungle."
The crowd was pathetically small. At one point during the faux-GNR set I counted a mere 25 people in the place. Twenty of them (mostly girls) were lined up at the stage, acting if they were seeing the real Guns N' Roses.
Matt met up with two of his friends. Both were guys in their 30's who were recently divorced. I talked with one of them: a big, tall dude named Jamie. He said that after twelve years of marriage and two kids, his wife decided one day that their marriage was over. Boom-done, just like that. No warning. That was less than a year ago. It threw him for quite a loop. Privately, I wondered how he could not have seen it coming? But guys can be pretty obtuse and clueless. And I guess this guy was too. In any event, he still seemed pretty adrift and I felt badly for him.
So our little New Year's Eve party wasn't exactly the rollicking, fun-fest we might have imagined. It certainly wasn't Times Square in New York City. Then again, having grown up in NYC I've been to Times Square on New Year's Eve, standing right smack-dab in the middle of that big crowd. And I had to pee. So I don't mind dinky Pensacola, Florida.
Then we met up with another guy, George, who was a childhood friend of Matt's who'd also come in from out of town. Both Matt and he are originally from Pensacola, and they'd met through their church. This guy, George, had sort of "fallen away" from the church as he'd gotten older, but his father was still big into it. George suggested that we depart and go say hi to his brother who was a bartender at a nearby club called Cabaret. I asked, "Is he gay?" because that's the kind of club the Cabaret is. George assured me that his brother was most definitely not. "He's an ex-Marine!" Well we get to the club and...ummm...hey, you can't be absolutely sure of anything...but...I'd say there are some issues in that family that aren't being talked about. None of my business, of course...
Afterward we wandered around some more, hitting some of the other clubs. It was a blur - by that time I was pretty drunk. Luckily I wasn't driving. On the other hand, Matt was driving and all night long he'd been matching me drink for drink. By the time we called it quits, it was nearly three a.m. - and we still had to drive the Jamie home. (If you held a gun to my head I could not tell you where he lived.) While we all had a good time, the night reminded me of a couple of things - mostly why I don't do stuff like that anymore. I remember thinking, "Gee, I used to be a part of this scene. Now I feel apart from this scene - like some alien observer."
So...I hope your New Year's Eve was fun...and pain-free. Ours was. But do it again soon? Ehhhh, I don't know. I think I'm good for another year...at least.