On Saturday night UK Grief played a St. Pat’s gig at the same Chicago Wicker Park loft of its “first and last gig.”
As Irish, I’m like the vampire that takes Halloween off. It’s amateur hour. All the amateurs come out wearing their “Kiss Me I’m Irish” buttons (who still wears buttons?) and stupid green Leprechaun hats. I did have a Pot ‘o Gold, however – growler of Half Acre Space IPA that I treated myself.
It was the only thing I carried in with me to the loft. We were back. UK Grief – myself, Chicago reclusive author Clive Javanski (keyboards), Aidan (bass), Franz (guitar), and Sasha (percussion and vocals).
I didn’t even know we’d be doing this gig as recent as Friday. My friend Paul asked what I was doing for St. Pat’s (which has turned into a
weekend weeklong holiday).
“I don’t know,” I said. “Maybe stay home and dye my toilet water green.”
“Well then why don’t you take a four-leaf dump.”
Paul was at the loft this night, with the Pretties – his two beautiful, model roommates. Drinking out of his lighted beer mug, which he’s had since high school.
“What’s up Lif? Gonna put on a good show for us?”
“Probably not, Paul. Probably not. So keep drinking.”
None of us were wearing green, save for Aidan’s green painted fingernails.
“Hey Aidan,” someone yelled (his brother). “I like your green fingernails.”
“I like your green pussy,” Aidan said. “Now shut the fuck up.”
Sasha wore a tartan kilt that had a little green in it, but mostly I saw blue and purple. And she wore it over jeans, which I found strangely sexy. Before our set Sasha and I went in the kitchen and shared a Guinness and a kiss.
Our first song was an Aidan original called “Black and Tan Belly Dancer.” It was based on a half Russian, half Middle Eastern who actually was a belly dancer. He dated her and brought her with him to the Irish Festival at the Irish American Heritage Center on the north side exactly one year ago. Aidan wrote and sang the song, so this was my David Gahan moment in Depeche Mode when I leave the stage as he does when Martin Gore gets behind the mike.
There were roughly 200 people there, which is more than I’ve seen at some of the local shows in town. We regaled them with Irish-themed songs, including a few originals, obscure Cranberries tunes, some Gavin Friday and Bell X1. And the lone U2 song we’ll do, “Red Hill Mining Town.”
It was after that number when Clive passed out behind the keys. Not because he was drunk, or stoned, which he was, but some shitty, temporary medical condition. While he was being looked to by a couple med students in the crowd Aidan took it upon himself to rage against the “asshole amateurs” at the Irish parades and bars downtown.
“If I see any of you with a green plastic hat on, I’ll shove it up your ass,” he said.
We thought about continuing on without Clive, but then someone cranked up the jukebox (yea, there was a jukebox in the loft) and it was Dropkick Murphys. So we left the stage to drink, and maybe fight, because what else is there to do when the Murphys come on?
I went back in the kitchen with Sasha. She wanted to kiss again. I didn’t. But then she pointed to a can of Guinness hanging from a rope in the doorway above us.
“The Irish mistletoe,” she said.
“Fuck it then, let’s kiss,” I said.
“By the way,” Sasha said. “If I’ve never told you this. It’s perfect for today, but your name is stupid. Now kiss me.”