The room was filled to the brim with dark shadows. There was a cacophonous din that while discordant carried a lyrical hum along with it. There was a pressure of the flesh all around me as we pushed our way in from the chilled December air outside. The air was rank with beer and perfume. The sound being hurled at us from the stage was unfamiliar to me and forced me to question whether or not I made the right decision to come. No matter, I was warm, I was with a dear friend, and I was about to see Tricky for the first time at a lovely little venue known as Le Poisson Rouge. I have been here many times before, yet as we milled around, checking our coats, grabbing a beer, and making our way towards the stage I felt an unfamiliarity with the space and the crowd that I hadn't expected. This was not my "usual" crowd. These were not my "usual" people. The darkness of the space and the claustrophobic force I felt penetrating my presence was unlike the usual vibe I got from LPR. I wasn't sure what to make of it, so I stayed.
It wasn't long until the lights went out all together, and I was thrown into complete darkness. I could only register that the show had begun based off of the cheers of the mob around me. Then, a bullet in the dark was fired and the show began. Tricky came out a little after his band, I assume he was smoking a cigarette and taking a swig of his drink. From the endless chant of "woooooo's" I was able to surmise that he was entertaining us. Then, I caught a glimpse of the man himself in a phosphorescent green light, smoking his tell tale cigarette, and I watched, confused and entranced as he took off his shirt and revealed his scrappy lean frame covered in tattoos and grabbed hold of his mic.
This wasn't a "concert". Concerts are more civilized. This wasn't a "rave". The music was too angry for that. What happened felt more garage and grungy than anything I have felt in a while. I didn't know "trip hop" could feel so raw and down to earth. As we all danced and swayed in our two inches of spacial real estate, a simple hand gesture issued forth from Tricky's lanky, thin, yet muscular arms. His whole body said "C'mere" to the crowd. He was inviting those willing up on the stage with him. A third of the audience- myself included- more than willingly obliged. What happened next was madness, a modern bacchanalia ensued. I was dancing on the demure Le Poisson Rouge Stage with scores of hypnotized people, Tricky shining brilliantly in the center like a strange glowing beacon.
|Yes. That is ME whipping my hair! Photo by Benjamin Lozovsky|
The performance was definitely more style than substance, but when there's that much panache and pure adrenalin being pumped into the engulfing darkness of a dank space in the early days of winter... does one really care either way? I certainly didn't. I danced, I shook, I screamed, I whipped my hair around like a weapon, and as the night progressed and all that aggression was released, I found myself doing something that I hadn't been doing in a while... smiling.
After we joined Tricky on stage at the end of the set for the second time, I felt like I got a lot more out of the show then I had ever expected. I went in thinking I was going to be lulled into a safe cocoon of ambient noise when in reality I was to be awakened by rock anthems like "Ace of Spades" and thrashing about on stage with the exceptional and eccentric man known as Tricky. The show ended and I was pumped with adrenalin- something I had been lacking these last few months. I wished I could've thanked him for it- I mean, sure, I shook his hand on stage and we had a nice millisecond but, I really wanted to thank him...
Then, this happened...
After the show ended, Tricky actually went into the audience to say "hello" and "thanks" to his fans. I said "Excuse me, I'm sorry.." and asked his literal RING of bouncers if I could get in to say "Hi" to the man himself. Not only did they let me in, but I asked him if I could have a picture with him, and in his trademark rasp he said "Of courrssee of coursseee". I said, "Man, thank you so much for this show, you were great". He replied "Thanks love!" and gave me a nice, non-offensive kiss on the cheek, a hug, and a handshake.