Pictures in this post are taken from Trigger Effect’s live show, June 19, 2010 at the Bovine Sex Club.
I wish I could have brought a pen and paper or even a tape recorder to speak into when Trigger Effect scared the crap out of me last summer. Not that I had either the space, time or the proper means to do so, but I want to recollect. What happened that night was something I will never forget. It shocked my senses, emotions, personal space issues, and comfort zone, in an aggressive manner that I find myself reminiscing about.
Toronto’s Hideout, front of stage, was where I stood, with a martini in hand, emotions and soul captured in beautiful melodic music. With a switch of two sets and two bands, I was violated with violence and spit, crotch grabbing that was so aggressive, it lead to rips in jeans straight up the inside of a masculine thigh, a female in the audience trying to kiss me, and exhaustion towards the end of the evening.
Staying at the same venue for NXNE was completely my idea as I was anxiously awaiting a self described feminist band to play their set. It was not our intention to remain at the same setting, we had wrist bands and intended on heading to the Bovine Sex Club. With a pamphlet describing bands, I chose to discuss the idea we remain for the activist band following the female vocalist who just played. We stayed, yet, it was promised amongst ourselves we would leave after the second band.
The two bands we watched were excellent and the band I waited for pleased me immensely. When the second band was getting ready to leave and the third band was setting up, I noticed (you couldn’t help but notice really) a suspicious looking man, who was quite tall, with a mane of red hair, that resembled my teenage hero Drop Dead Fred. This peculiar subject looked out into the crowd, as if scoping out the place for fresh victims, making the most bizarre, spectral faces I have ever seen. I thought he wanted to kill us and I said so out loud. For some odd reason, this intrigued me greatly and I insisted, practically begged the guys we were with, to endure my wishes and remain, so I could see this “psycho singer” and the band he sang with.
An initial progression occurred that caught my eye or focused my attention, but I cannot remember what it was. It could have been an aggressive grab of the crotch, a foul curse word directed at us the audience or the crude unleash of saliva on stage. Whatever it was, it does not matter. All I know is that the second they stepped onto that stage, I knew I was absolutely right about this deviant singer and that I was in for a fucking hell of a ride.
Having no idea who this band was, or what they were about to do, the audience was quite amicable, moving closer to the front of the stage when the bouncer gestured that we should. Little me was right at the front and shocked, completely and utterly shocked at what I was witnessing before my eyes. This lead singer took a long luxurious drink of beer, spit it distant and expansive into the crowd, wetting us all in the front, and smashing the bottle before us. Glass went flying. Some of us got wet. None of us got hurt. I was disturbed and awakened, excited and uneasy. What an opening proclamation.
We were all very much oblivious to the methods of destruction and what they implied, because the music and the force was just too heavy and too fast to be worrisome, though I was a bit concerned. But I couldn’t leave, despite the fact that I could not accurately tell if the bouncer, and the smashing of the bottle, were part of the act. I was scared, but I was intrigued, and I wanted to stay.
The security guard proceeded to yell at the lead singer (whose name is Nick) to “stop smashing bottles!!”, and Nick proceeded to keep screaming into his microphone, face to face, forehead to forehead with this authority figure. They were so close in contact, Drop Dead Fred could kiss him if he so wished. That did not happen, but I was invoking that it would.
Although I could not decipher what Nick was singing or screaming about, it did not concern me. The night just felt so primal, with the release of spit continuing profusely and relentlessly. At one point of the evening, Nick expelled saliva up to the ceiling, and a long stream of discharge was resting and remaining so gently a top his head from the spot where he aimed. He proceeded to lay on the stage screaming into his microphone, still releasing spew here and there between guttural groans and relic screams.
There were moments where Drop Dead Fred’s band mates would behave crudely to him and he would do the same, which generally involved spewing saliva. No one was excluded from the fluids that came out of these proponents of aberration’s mouths. The spraying and secreting of spit felt like a vile release Toronto, the conservative yet so stuffy, needed.
The crotch of this maniacal cartoon, horror movie character was grabbed by said self, so many times, that somehow, without my awareness, he managed to rip a huge hole into his jeans that had stretched up the inside of his thigh, traveling curiously close to his groin. It appeared fictitious. I had never seen anything quite like it.
I was with some pretty preppy guys. I know I can look and seem quite conservative and even somewhat normal to the average viewer, blending in with the crowd at various places, but the men I was with are your total goody goody nice white guys attending a punk rock concert, who ended up enjoying themselves as much as I did. When I looked over at them, they were smiling, amalgamating with the movements of the combative crowd. It all felt quite right.
My partner was beside me and I believe I asked a couple of times if this was for real, if that singer was actually for real, if he was actually that mean and psycho. Joel insisted that the stage personae of this performer had to be part of the spectacle.
The intimacy and strangeness of the show increased when a woman standing next to me, became indubitably enraptured with me. She moved in closer, lingering near my face, like she was going to kiss me. I felt her arm travel so subtlety around me, while her lips kept smiling, as she neared ever so closer towards me. A part of me wondered if she too was part of the act. Do random bands from Montreal have the cash to hire grrrls from their city to affect and attract ambiance? Was she a friend of the bands that loves their music so much, she felt it necessary to share the love with me? Or was she just beguiled with the mood and the moment, like I was, but wishing to express her passion in another way? That is something I could have and should have asked her but like the lack of pen or tape recorder, I just could not grasp and interpret that moment.
It was not one of those girls gone wild moments. It was nothing like that. The attractive brunette was beaming so fiendishly, in such a sweet and innocent manner, that there was this outlandish sort of love in the air, combined with abandon and aggression. My comfort level was tested again with my partner standing next to me, and the awareness that we are not the type of couple to get off on me kissing another girl. Kissing random grrrls at various events was something I did in past years, yet, it was something I did not feel right about participating in, at this time or even moment in my life. However, the offer was there and it had me interested and inquisitive.
There was something quite strange in the air. Something I assume would have been similar to seeing the Doors in concert. Who was this satanic shaman with his tribally demonic friends? The night was such that people were actually letting go, getting lost in the moment, losing control, and being helpless to the situation that was all around you, surrounding you, taking you.
The satanic shaman came down off the stage heading straight for me. Despite the fear, I know I was smiling, quite literally distressed, yet excited with the thought of what his next move could be and if that gesture would end up hurting me in some manner. The aggressive walk towards us, like a predator gliding toward prey, caught my arm, which resulted in a bruise. Joel, in turn, protective and basic, yet still caught up in the alchemy of the moment, proceeded to push him, which seemed absolutely natural at the time and not even offensive at all. It just seemed to be a part of the evening festivities.
Drop Dead Fred was mingling viciously with the crowd, pushing people without purpose or thought, with a presence that was volatile. Making his way back, he laid out on the stage, and was screaming again. Joel spit his gum, which landed directly on top of the perpetrator, causing the bouncer to come over to us and say: “that’s good! Now don’t do it again”. And I was again startled. What kind of show was this anyway? Where spitting, smashing things, and screaming are applauded but only to a certain extent.
Continuously, throughout the show, the bouncer tried, without success, to tell Nick to stop what he was doing, which ranged in all of the behaviors I described above. When the bouncer left the stage area towards the end of the set, I suggested to Joel that we go to the bar for a drink, away from the absurd and unpredictable environment that surrounded us. I did not know what could happen next and I was feeling tentative being there without some form of control.
We went to the bar. I was tired, so tired from what I saw and experienced. When we departed the Hideout, we came across one of the members of Trigger Effect outside. I proceeded to talk to him about the show and specifically the actions and behavior of the lead singer. I asked, “Is he really that mean?” and he said “no, he’s actually the nicest guy”. I was doubtful I could believe him. The bouncer so enraged troubled me, and so I asked him if he was part of the show and he laughed saying “he was not”. Once more, I could not believe him. The whole night had me somewhat confused, as I could not make sense of it.
A year later, I still look back and am perplexed that I encountered such a representation. I know it sounds demented, but it was one of the best shows I have ever been to and I’ve seen all of my favorite bands live. The security guard was not part of the show, this is what Trigger Effect does, sometimes scaring the crap out of people, pissing off authority figures and even their fans. The singer does indeed seem like a nice guy, which really reveals the affect and lasting display and ingenuity of his craft as a performer; as frenzied as that is. Joel is a fan now, and each guy I was with was delirious from the experience. They are punk fans but could not believe they encountered what they did. For me, I still think about it, and am happy that this band can truly release, allowing the audience to lose control in such a way, that we really did not know what would happen next.
Trigger Effect will be playing at the Bovine Sex Club at 1am NXNE tonight!