By far the quirkiest event on Noise Pop’s schedule this year was Way Behind the Music, a showcase of readings of musicians’ memoirs by local musicians, writers and comedians, sponsored by the literary festival Litquake. With such a curious description, choosing Way Behind the Music as my one night off from live music was destiny. Work being read and performed came from a variety of authors — from Marilyn Manson to Gene Simmons and Justin Bieber — and the execution went above and beyond the imaginable limits of humor. I ended up leaving early because my bladder couldn’t handle it, and I scurried off to another bar for a potty break on my walk home.
I mean, it’s one thing to recognize that these celebrated musicians (or rather, celebrities of the music industry) have such fucked up stories to begin with. But it’s another thing to deliver such deranged memories from the stage, acting as if you are the mother of Backstreet Boy AJ McLean, or a KISS member who at one point joined Cher’s aristocratic celeb social circle. Each performer made their chosen memoir sound like a must-read.
Way Behind the Music host Anthony Bedard (local musician from the band Hank IV) shared excerpts from press releases submitted to the Hemlock over the years, where he has worked as a booker. This I could really relate to. As a recipient of thousands of press releases over the years, I’ve tried to keep my merciless judgments to myself; nonetheless, I felt quite liberated hearing the fun-poking coming from someone else. Bedard coined a hilarious term for the genre of publicity submissions: “folder rock.” It refers to the wasteful packaging and paraphernalia that comes with every band’s PR materials, an eco-hazard saved by the invention of MySpace, Bedard claims.
I could go on forever about the terrible, tragic lives of the pop culture characters skewered last night. There’s some real hilarity out there, and I am tempted to pick up one or all of these memoirs. But without further adieu, please enjoy one of several excerpts from Jewel’s poetry collection, A Night Without Armor, as interpreted by Thao Nguyen: