695 North Avenue NE, Atlanta, GA 30308
N 40° 42′ 46.021”
W 74° 0′ 21.388”
Saturday night I ventured out to The Masquerade to see The Struts play a late show. It was the first show I’d been to in more than a month, and definitely the latest I’ve gone to in a good long while since it started at 11:30. I spent the day stressing and thinking “why did I think it was a good idea to buy tickets to an 11:30 show? Especially one I knew would sell out?”
The answer is that I really wanted to see this band, whose album Everybody Wants is the first “new” album that I’ve loved in close to a year. I wanted to see them bad enough that I was even considering buying a pass to Shaky Knees, the festival that the collection of late shows was added to, and I really hate festivals, as almost everyone I know who routinely works festivals would agree. I’ve only attended a festival as a patron once since 2002 and that was with a free ticket and I only stayed for a couple hours. Festivals are about everything except enjoying the music and they are so huge that I know I will never get the experience that I want out of them. As a general rule of it’s over 1000 people then I’m not interested.
The Masquerade is a bit of an institution in Atlanta. It’s been around in its current form since 1989, though the building itself dates back to the 1890’s, the specific year depends who you ask. It’s succumbing to the plague of mixed use development that is overtaking the city of Atlanta. It’s mostly a rock/punk/goth venue, and there are some old goth kids that I swear live there. Despite its place in the hearts of most of the Atlanta music scene, it’s never been a favorite of mine. It’s divided into three rooms; Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory. If you’re in Heaven there is an overwhelming sense that the floor is going to give out at any moment, and in Hell there is an overwhelming feeling that the ceiling is going to give out and drop 1000 people on your head. Even still, I’ve managed to see Icona Pop, The Darkness, Bowling for Soup, and a boat load of locals on its various stages.
When the late show was added it was an obvious solution since it meant I would see them in a dark stone room in an old excelsior mill with about 300 people instead of Centennial Park with 10k+ people. I was also pretty confident that this would be my only chance to see them in such a small room, as I’m sure they’ll be upgraded to Centerstage or Buckhead Theatre for their next show and surely with a higher ticket price. Obviously that didn’t stop me from being apprehensive about the hour, my seemingly never ending state of exhaustion, and of course the crowd.
I rallied and made it out and it was better than I could have hoped. My original plan was to hang back and watch, not get in the crowd, and certainly not front and center in my usual spot. That didn’t last. I couldn’t see anything, but I didn’t care. I danced and sang my heart out like I haven’t in what feels like years, though that can’t be true. They played the hit, “Could Have Been Me” early in the set so the casual fans were peeling off so I snaked my way closer and closer through the show, and by the end of the set I was only about a 1/3 of the way from the stage.
I walked away hoarse and sore and happy. My neck ached for two days afterwards but I was reminded of the version of myself that used to go to shows as much as four nights a week.
I should really go to more shows.