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Live: El-P @ Bottom Lounge [||] 7/15/10

“She looked like she’d been through some things in life.” — El-P on the woman who brought him his chicken strips last night

Yesterday, I got all the way to the Bottom Lounge, here in Chicago, before it occurred to me that I didn’t bring very much cash, and that I might have a hard time putting on a drunk, if it was one of these places that only takes cash. I started to turn around and go back to the hotel, but I decided against it, because I’m lazier than a motherfucker, and because, since I grew up in the sticks, I’m kinda against traveling on foot as a matter of principle. As is the case with soccer, there’s something about it that just doesn’t seem very American to me. I figured I had just enough to get ‘faced, if I bought about seven beers and drank them all very quickly, at the beginning of the evening. I used to have to do shit like that all the time back when I was in college.

I put down a couple of those awesome 16 oz. cans of Miller High Life, and then El-P, whom I follow on Twitter, texted me. I told him I was in the building, and to look for a big black dude. He tried to get me to specify even further. I don’t think he understood that the only other black guys there would be there working security or some shit, and that they’d be much smaller and not dressed in the shit my mom buys me from the mall. (Some kid backstage was trying to talk shit about my gear last night.) As I explained to him, it wouldn’t be very hard to pick me out even at the actual festival. I get a lot of weird-looking kids coming up to me to express their appreciation for all of the Alex Jones shit I post on my own site. You know, helping to get the word out. If only girls were into that sort of thing, I’d be set.

El-P had some kind of deal with the venue where he could get food and alcohol not for free, as if he were Rick Ross or somebody, but at cost. Bonus! I ended up drinking a lot more than I could have, if I had to pay, and a lot more than I probably should have, for a number of reasons: (1) There was only a limited amount of alcohol, and I had more than my fair share. More and more people showed up and eventually supplies ran out. I could have stopped at a certain point and still been good and lit. (2) I may have made a few inappropriate remarks. (Shocker!) In particular, there was some confusion as to whether this one woman, who appeared to be all of about 39 years old, was really El-P’s girlfriend’s mother. I don’t think I said anything too crazy, but I’d hate for her to think that El-P hangs out with a bad element, aside from Cage. (3) You shouldn’t drink to excess. Just because I did it and had a good time and there were hardly any negative consequences doesn’t mean this is something you should do.

Things did get kinda weird when I had to explain, in the most polite way that I could, that XXL, which I sometimes namedrop, to make it seem like I’m not just some guy who works in retail, could generally give a rat’s ass about El-P. (I told them I was from XXL, but I wasn’t there to write an article or anything.) The last time I remember him being in XXL was when they reviewed I’ll Sleep When You’re Dead – easily the best album that year – in that tiny column for independent artists in the back of magazine, across from the pr0n. That’s not necessarily something you want to bring up around a guy’s girlfriend. El-P explained that someone from XXL will email him every now and again, if they need someone to comment on something having to do with white people in hip-hop, and that he usually just ignores it. But he did point out that the late, great Elliott Wilson was the guy who brought Company Flow to The Source, back in the day. Who knew?

El-P was there to play a DJ set, even though he’s not really a DJ. I wasn’t sure what he meant by that, but it could very well be that he doesn’t know Jack Schitt about DJing. There were some problems with his set – some technical issues, and possibly some, uh, technique issues. Songs seemed to stop and start whenever they felt like it, like his laptop may have been acting up.. A knob on the console was turned all the way down, when it should have been turned all the way up, supposedly. (I’m not an expert on stereo equipment.) The crowd seemed mostly indifferent, but as I explained to El-P’s girlfriend (a lovely woman), crowds at these things tend to be mostly indifferent anyway, regardless of what happens. One year, the one fruit from Of Montreal (one of Solange Knowles favs, as I recall) stripped all the way down to something resembling the athletic supporters on Beavis and Butthead and drank from a huge cup of what looked like red apple sauce, and people seemed altogether unconcerned. It’s a very white, very jaded crowd, and a lot of them wouldn’t know from good music anyway. They’re lucky to have a guy like El-P there this weekend. Maybe they’ll learn something.

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