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Alyssa Keene as Kelly, Val Brunetto as Andrea, Patrick Lennon as JT, Kristina Sutherland Rowell as Harris, Aimée Bruneau as Margo. Photo by Joe Iano
Yr City's A Sucker
produced at the 14/48 festival, 1/5/18. The randomly drawn theme for that night: "All Together Now." My random actor draw: write a play for five actors. We are on a sidewalk, with stanchions in place indicating that we are looking at the front of a line. There is exactly one person in line as lights come up: JT, a quiet kid with a backpack fully stocked for a long day in line, big headphones connected to a tablet to block the world out, sitting on the ground. Some empty cans of Monster soda are arrayed carefully near him. He wears a battered leather jacket and ripped jeans. JT to the audience: Itís San Francisco, outside the Bill Graham Auditorium, where tonight my favorite rock band in the world, Bliss Potential, will be performing the fifteenth show of their amazing reunion tour. I have followed the tour since it began in New York City. Two newcomers arrive: KELLY and ANDREA, authentic modern hipsters, photogenic; Andrea is perhaps Kellyís younger sibling by a few years. They too have backpacks ready for business. Andrea immediately takes a phone snapshot of the front of the building. Kelly waves at JT, who hesitates, then waves back. Then, after a beat, he takes his headphones off. JT: Do I know you? KELLY: I was second in line behind you in Vancouver, Seattle, and Portland. So you might recognize me from, like, being right next to you a lot lately. What time did you get here? JT: I showed up at 10. They hadnít even set the ropes up yet. ANDREA: Did you see their tour buses pull up? JT: Yeah, but I donít like to get too close. Iím not here to invade their privacy. ANDREA: Oh, I would invade Colinís privacy if I got the chance. KELLY: Listen to you. ANDREA: Iím just saying. KELLY: I should have gone to the bathroom. JT: The libraryís right over there, itís got bathrooms. ANDREA: I should go too. KELLY: Save our spots? JT: Sure. Kelly and Andrea exit. JT to audience: Thirty minutes go by, about the length of the bandís infamous ambient album, which I am listening to out of a strange sense of duty. HARRIS enters - wearing a sport coat or blazer and slacks, a scarf stylishly arrayed around his neck, heís a bit of a modern dandy. He saunters up next to JT. JT: Oh, Iím saving spaces for a couple people, just so you know. HARRIS: No worries. I might just try to sell my ticket anyway. JT: Why? HARRIS: The new recordís not my thing. JT: Really? HARRIS: Ah, itís just - it feels like a cash grab, like they only broke up five years ago and they made this big deal out of it and now, this new record, itís justÖ JT: They only play a few songs from it. They mostly play the hits. HARRIS: Well, I saw them play the hits like five times back in the day. JT: So whyíd you buy a ticket? HARRIS: I hadnít heard the new record when I bought the ticket. Kelly and Andrea re-enter and take their spots in line. JT to audience: The thing is, though, the new record is actually very, very good. Itís sharp like the old stuff, but itís got a new maturity that suits their sound quite a bit. HARRIS: I donít know, it sounds kind of drab to me. KELLY: Shut up, it does not. HARRIS: I will not shut up. Iím just stating my opinion. KELLY: You are entitled to a wrong opinion, no one is denying that. ANDREA: I donít know if I can wait until after the show to eat again. HARRIS: Thereís a bar around the corner I go to all the time, has good burritos. Iíll go with you. KELLY: Bring me back something. ANDREA: JT, you want anything? JT: Iím good. HARRIS: JT? Blogger JT? Oh - now it makes sense. JT: What makes sense? HARRIS: Youíre internet famous for blogging about Bliss Potential, so of course you like their new album. ANDREA: I donít blog about them and I like the new album. To Kelly: I do, right? KELLY: I think you mostly like their old stuff. ANDREA: Well, still. Andrea and Harris wander off. KELLY: You do like the new album, donít you? JT: I do. KELLY: I do too. I donít think I like it more than their first album. I love their first album. I would marry and have children with their first album, and we would name our children ďTrack OneĒ and ďTrack Two.Ē MARGO enters - not exactly goth in style, not so far as all that, but still, sheís got a very serious look about her. JT to audience: I donít normally make friends in line. Iím going to leave town tomorrow to catch the band in San Diego and I wonít see these people ever again. MARGO: Iím going to see them in San Diego actually. And Los Angeles. JT: Okay, but after that- MARGO: Iím going to Europe. JT: Youíre going to see them in Europe? MARGO: Got the summer off for it. KELLY: Pro tip, you got to get in line before 10 if you want to be in front of JT. MARGO: I donít need to be first in line. KELLY: Which is a good attitude, since you arenít. Harris and Andrea return with bags of food and mini bottles of liquor to share. JT to audience: The bandís new album is all about the alienation that comes with getting older, coupled with the satisfying realization that you still have time to live your best days. HARRIS: They just sound burned out to me. MARGO: That is a legitimate position from which to make meaningful art. You fight and you fight and you get tired of fighting, but you still have something to say. HARRIS: Theyíre rich rock stars, what are they fighting about at this point? MARGO: Theyíre fighting to stay authentic when it would be so easy to embrace the cliche that people like you think theyíre becoming. HARRIS: Well, thatís obviously how theyíre marketing it. MARGO: Theyíre marketing it that way because itís true. I mean look, maybe they wrote better songs when they were younger. But thatís what makes the new record feel so ambitious. They didnít have to make this record. They donít have to keep writing songs to prove anything to anyone, they donít have to tour, they donít have to put themselves out there for judgment. ANDREA: I want to be that age and still making meaningful art. I donít want to go quietly, you know? KELLY: How old do you think they are? ANDREA: I donít know - 40? JT: Colin was 37 when he started the band. He was 37 when he wrote ďYou Got Nerve.Ē KELLY: Oh, see that shit is still my jam. Kelly starts in on the song ďYou Got NerveĒ, meant to be performed as a rhythmic shout. Andrea immediately joins in. KELLY / ANDREA: You got nerve!
Coming round here with your cheap cigarettes
Your cheap ass booze in your bullshit car
You got nerve!
Coming round here with your bad attitude
Your fake ass smile no you wonít get far
MARGO: You got nerve!
Asking me out like Iím some kind of clown
With no self esteem and nothing to do
You got nerve!
Rolling on E in the middle of the day
And you know damn well I wanna do some too Harris and JT jump in on the bridge. HARRIS / JT: But I got a job and I got three kids
And I ainít gonna see my life on the skids
You roll up in here, youíre gonna play my way
Just sell me some shit for another day KELLY / ANDREA / MARGO / HARRIS / JT:
You got nerve!
Wasting your time and wasting your life
And wasting that fancy art degree
You got nerve!
And you might have style, but Iíll tell you this much
You donít have me A general round of high fives and self-congratulation follows. HARRIS: Theyíre going to play that tonight? JT: They open every show with it. HARRIS: Maybe I wonít sell my ticket. KELLY examining a mini bottle: What is this, Goldschläger? ANDREA: I thought you would find it funny. MARGO: I will admit I donít understand why they made an ambient record. JT: Colinís always secretly wanted to be a DJ. MARGO: I mean, arguably, as a fan - he probably should have kept that a secret. JT: New recordís cool though. MARGO: Yeah, I dig the new record. Fade to black as they chat among themselves.
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