Two: The headliner for the evening was the Gothic synthesizer trio Salem, whose onstage mystique I can only describe as falling somewhere between that notorious Massachusetts township and a menthol cigarette smoked in a parked sedan outside a strip mall.
Three: Tuesday night at Glasslands looked a lot like the above photo by Maggie Lee. In other words, the room was so smoky that you were unlikely to see past the raised French tips of the person standing in front of you.
Four: Between the hours of nine and ten, plastic cups containing about 5 parts water and 1 part Pernot Fils absinthe were distributed to the concert-going public. Pernot Fils claims to be the last remaining French distillery to preserve its original, pre-1910 formula.
Five: If you did manage to see past all the French tips and upheld Blackberrys, you might catch a veiled glimpse of a grey car, captured from behind as it crawls down a winding highway at night. The show Cops was probably the first thing that came to my mind. But if this were really a police chase, why was the cop car crawling too?
Six: Whether you drank the absinthe or not, something about Tuesday Night at Glasslands seemed to promise that it would be only remembered in vivid fragments. Many people, including one New York Times photographer, found that when they tried to get a good shot of the performers, all that came out was smoke.
Seven: Salem looked and sounded a whole lot like this video courtesty Dana Lauren Goldstein, though the automobiles are nowhere to be found:
Eight: Maybe it was because the smoke machine was beginning to alter our perceptions a bit. Or maybe it was because their bottom-heavy arrangements seemed to chug along at a rate even slower than their syrup-throated gangsta rhymes. But for a while, it felt like Salem had turned the night into a cassette tape, then slowed that cassette tape down. Until it was barely moving anymore. And we were trapped within that slowness, within that death, though the sensation wasn’t so much disturbing as disturbingly pleasant.
Nine: What you cannot make out in the video above is that at that very moment, and at several moments throughout the performance, the cars in the projection started burning. And this, strangely enough, was beautiful.
Ten: Could it have been true, as the Village Voice now claims, that R.E.M.’s Michael Stipe was present in the audience that night? Not only in attendance, but there to celebrate his 50th birthday? I do recall several people mentioning Stipe sightings to me that night, but couldn’t it have just been a collective hallucination? And not one necessarily induced by the Pernot Fils?
Words: Emilie Friedlander