It was 2004. Or maybe it was 2005…I really don't remember. But what I do remember is being seated at the bar of the very ghetto-looking Retro Lounge inside the then-very-ghetto Golden Phoenix Casino in Reno, NV.
Now, before I go any further, please allow me to declare my complete and utter hatred and contempt for casinos in-general and inform you that I was only there to see A Flock Of Seagulls perform live.
Why? Well, I kind of had this sort of drinking problem at the time. You see, I was single, I had a few days off from my dead-end job as a bartender at a (surprise!) casino, and I was indescribably lonely (the very epitome of pathetic).
Plus, the whole gig was free! Score!, right?
I showed up early (I’m like that). I sat at the bar for the longest time, drinking beer (at least I think that’s what it was) and watching a perpetually looped DVD of David Bowie music videos on the television monitors in-between an off-duty Golden Phoenix manager who was glued to his slot machine (and his Manhattan) and some guy from a Latin America country sitting next to me who wasn’t particularly keen on seeing the sight of David Bowie in drag (I simply didn’t have the heart to tell him I was a transvestite).
At one point, I left the Retro Lounge (where the concert was to be held) and had attempted to dine on something the waitress claimed was food in the poor excuse for a 50s-themed diner. A few booths down and to the left were four fat middle-aged guys in parkas behaving very nonchalantly. They all looked at me. Then they looked away.
Returning to the Ghetto Lounge, I was asked to give up my seat at the bar for a gambling customer (who was also an off-duty employee – no wonder the casino went under). Within minutes, she hit the machine I had been playing off an on throughout the evening for $400 (the bitch).
Later, as the big musical moment drew nigh, I stood near the entrance of the Retro Lounge, watching the place fill up…and fill up… and fill up.
Look, I cannot push this important life-lesson enough, kids: never attend a free concert –- because you get what you pay for. And in this case, it was a crowded lounge in a ghetto casino with drunken frat kids everywhere. Tall, drunken frat kids. Obnoxious, rude, moronic, cheap-ass, tall, drunken frat kids. Everywhere. Ass to elbows, if you know what I mean (and not the fun way, either). The Reno Fire Marshall would not have been very impressed.
And then, it happened: the four members of A Flock Of Seagulls walked onstage.
They were very nonchalant.
They wore parkas.
God-dammit, these were the same guys I had seen in the café earlier. To think, I could have met them. Talked to them. Ate unidentifiable food with them!
My anger at my own inability to distinguish one parka-donning fat-ass from another quickly disappeared when it became quite apparent that I could not breathe (it was that crowded). Nor could I differentiate one sound from another (it was that noisy).
Then the band started. And they sucked… big time.
It was obvious that these performers didn’t give a rat's ass about the whole gig. Hell, why should they have cared? It wasn’t like they were getting paid or anything! I guess the 300 plus kids that piled into a tiny lounge to see them must have done so by sheer accident alone.