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About a Beast

Ruminations on irony, Maidenhood and fraternity

This sort of thing happens to me a lot, actually. I'm at the Meridian (1503 Chartres) tonight to check out the Iron Maidens, an all-female Iron Maiden cover band that's earned more ink in the past four years than the real Iron Maiden. It's the premise that got me in trouble: an all-female Iron Maiden cover band called the Iron Maidens. Sold.

For the past week I've been talking up the show to my hipster-indie-scenester friends. They all say they're going. The night is going to be positively dripping with meta-metal irony. I consider donning a mullet.

It's not until I've made it to the bar and gotten a G&T that I realize how horribly I've overestimated Houston's love of ironic posturing. These people aren't here to listen to an all-female Iron Maiden cover band called the Iron Maidens. These people love Iron Maiden, man, and they are here to rock!

"Ah, shit," I say to my buddy. "This is gonna suck."

I start working the phone, texting all the people who swore they were coming. I even try to get Arf, the only real Iron Maiden fan I know, to come back to town for this gig. This kid used to wear his Eddie T-shirt to school Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and when he turned 19, I bought him a miniature Eddie statue for his birthday.

"You have to realize, though, that my opinion of Iron Maiden has changed drastically since five years ago," Arf warned me. "I hang out with music snobs now."

Looking around the bar, it's clear these are not Arf's new friends. A few quick stats: percentage of black T-shirts: 89. Percentage of those that are Iron Maiden tees: 53. Number of people wearing flip-flops: one (me).

But my buddy is getting excited. The opening act is Powerload, an AC/DC cover band, and his fraternity just took home some sort of prize for their variety show, which featured him singing "Back in Black." Fratty hands me a Bud Light -- no more G&Ts -- and we take in "Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap." The band is pretty good. They actually do sound like AC/DC, and the lead singer has got a good stage presence and a perfectly timed ability to sip whiskey between choruses. Fratty goes to the bar while I stand and watch a redheaded kid rock out. His hair is high and tight and he's got his stomping boots on.

Unlike with Iron Maiden, I actually know a thing or two about AC/DC, and Fratty and I follow the kid's lead and toss up our metal hands. Forget irony, let's rock! The beers keep coming and we keep rocking. The band finishes with "Back in Black," which causes Fratty to pause for a session of Cover Band Critique. "We were so much better," he concludes. I want to add "at singing someone else's song," but it's...whatever.

The club is starting to fill up near the stage now, and when the first Iron Maidens show their faces, the place comes alive. Lead singer Aja Kim bursts out and launches into...some song. This is when I realize I don't know any Iron Maiden songs. At all. Something about a beast? I'd been counting on Arf to get me through. The look on Fratty's face tells me he doesn't know anything either. We play a quick game of Who Would You Do? (me: drummer, Fratty: bassist) and decide to head out.

With irony long since dead, we head to the Marquis II (2361 Bissonnet) to sample the bar's legendary teas. The Marquis is the city's most frat-tastic bar. The place feels like the basement at Delta House. Walking in, you get the sense that the pledges just finished cleaning up all the puke and piss in which they were forced to do push-ups. I always half expect to see a passed-out coed in the corner, but I guess that kind of thing happens more in the lacrosse houses these days.

We pick up my roommate on the way to the bar. Roomie gets the raspberry tea while Fratty gets the Red Bull tea. I opt for the classic LIT. The Marquis's teas are like regular Long Island iced teas on steroids. For $4.50 they serve up a Big Gulp-size glass that's nothing but booze and a dash of Coke. You can mix them up with raspberry ("Girls only, homo") or Red Bull if you need the pep. I have no idea how the bar stays in business. All you need is one and you're done for the evening. I've never been able to finish two.

I check out the crowd. A few quick stats: Percentage of guys in polos: 63. Percentage of sorority girls who are too dressed up: 56. Number of people in flip-flops: a lot.

We make our way to the back of the bar, where Fratty's friends have secured a couple of tables. It's Story Night, a tradition that started a couple of months back when the group was hanging out and just began swapping tall tales about hookups, high jinks and the things that make college life great.

Since this is Roomie's first time, she goes first and wins the group over big-time. The story is much too complicated to lay out here but includes the line "So his chest is covered in dog jizz" and this closer, "You're my girlfriend. You should have licked it off. Not her." The story torch gets passed and we drink up.

The tea is doing its job, and the night is starting to fade out. No need for irony now, dead or alive. I'm drunk, in a bar and wearing flip-flops. That's totally metal.

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