Last weekend, Copenhagen’s Lust For Youth headlined EBM/New Beat dance night Bodyshock’s 2 year anniversary at Elbo Room, along with Marshstepper, Varg, and resident DJs Crackwhore, Blk Rainbow, and Unit 77. As is usual on a Friday night, the block around the venue on the corner of Valencia and Sycamore streets was crowded with people coming and going, and the upstairs room where everyone was gathered was lit with its usual dim fixtures and colored lasers, multiplied by mirrors and fog machines.
I’ve been to many great shows and parties in that upstairs room, and this show especially excited me — Lust For Youth’s last album, International, was played on repeat in my apartment all last summer, and I couldn’t wait to witness the band’s new iteration as a 3-piece, absolving themselves of their latent pop energy on stage surrounded by, what I imagined would be, a dancing crowd of very stoked and somewhat goth Noise disciples.
And in the beginning, that’s mostly what it was. The DJ sets were faultless, Varg constructed an atmosphere for the forsaken, and Marshstepper’s sinister floor performance, complete with hooded robes and ceremonial bowls, readied us all for the purge that would come with LFY’s reborn, buoyant synth hymns.
Shame on me for assuming, though. And I guess it serves me right for giving into the idea that I can know a crowd, a scene, or the extent of a genre’s fans. Pardon me for the generalization, but I guess that I had let myself forget that almost nothing in SF can be held sacred anymore – even something so seemingly special as an anniversary party for a dance night celebrating a most specific micro-genre. Something as so niche as a show where the international genre-bending boys of Lust For Youth brought t-shirts emblazoned with an olive-leaf bearing dove, a show where Marshstepper was so low to the ground and covered in fog that I almost never saw them during the entire set. Shame on me for assuming that as I danced during LFY’s set, I should have also been keeping an eye on those surrounding me, as I was repeatedly and unapologetically harassed by a small group of men, clearly rolling, wearing the t-shirts of their respective start up companies as they fist-pumped to New Boys.
Was I a snob for thinking that they didn’t belong there? Maybe Bodyshock had garnered some new fans since I last attended. Maybe I was wrong in assuming that all fans of LFY or Marshstepper or Varg would be on the same wavelength as me, both behaviorally and sartorially (I say that in the most broad sense). Maybe this really was just a young person’s game. Or maybe it was exactly as I assumed; that these were people with lots of disposable income for drugs and alcohol and cover charges, and they had, in their post-happy hour daze, stumbled across something with loud bass and said “why not here?”
It truly was a shame to me that the most absolute thought I brought away from that night was that I hated those men who had touched me, that I hated their friends who were sneaking cigarettes in the middle of the dance floor and dodging the security guard, and that I hated that these people took my attention away from the fantastic live performance of three Danish musicians in hooded raincoats who were so concerned with the undercurrent of their set that singer Hannes Norrvide had to demand multiple times that the lights be turned down, and a solitary man, acting as a prop, contemplated their set from a chair on stage, listening as if he was alone at home, maybe on his couch, their album playing softly in his dark living room.
As I sat down to write a review of the show, I knew although musically the show had been a success and a perfect celebration of Bodyshock’s creative curation, it would never be a night I would remember as such. Perhaps I was only one of a few who had experienced such nasty, polluted behavior. Perhaps I was mistaken as to the origin of the people who ruined the night for me, and whether or not their intentions were as threatening as I took them to be. But the fact remains that as I walked down the congested sidewalks of the Mission at 1am, while two guys in a doorway across from me took bumps from their knuckles, I couldn’t help but forget everything good about the night.