That Brennan Guy

I received a voicemail from Eileen on Friday night, which said something like: "You missed my phone call again, and I’m here with Sean and Omar and Allison and Justin and Lauren and Scott and Cheryn, and we’re all waiting for you, and you’re lame."

It’s not that I don’t like all my married friends. These days, it’s hard to get me out on a Friday night; I’m so, so tired from the week and there’s usually nothing I want more than to just sit down. Not only that, but I’ve discovered that I have very little interest in going to the types of rock shows that I found so necessary all throughout college, and even until just a couple of years ago. It’s something of a funny thing, I realize, that I should not want to see live rock and roll, being that I’m actually in a loud rock band that depends on live performances to help sustain our hobby, but what can I say? A guy gets tired. After a week of buses and trucks with horns honking and sirens screaming and tires screeching, I don’t want anymore loudness. Why don’t I use earplugs? I hate earplugs. Sure, they protect my hearing, but they also change the sound of everything, dulling and sucking the life out of the experience. At least that’s how it is with those green foamy things they give out for free at Sam Ash. Plus, I have terrible allergies and the smoke in New Jersey bars just kills me. One night in a smoky bar can leave me with a sinus infection that lasts weeks. So, I missed the Black Hollies on Friday night, but I would not miss Tris McCall on Saturday night. Besides, I helped book and promote the show; I needed to be there.

The show would be taking place in the great rotunda of the awe-inspiring Brennan County Courthouse on Newark Avenue, near Journal Square. This is the kind of place my 28-year-old self likes to see live music. I get to sit down. No one is allowed to smoke. The place—like a cathedral or museum—is as beautiful, with its marble columns and stained-glass ceiling and gilded details, as the most wonderful song.

I watched as the first performer, Joe Condiracci, walked into the Courthouse and made his way to the center of the rotunda, where he stared up into the dome, arms limp at his sides, fingers just barely maintaining contact with the handle of his guitar case. I walked over to him.

"First time here?" I asked.
He looked down at me suddenly, as if stirred from sleep, and nodded. "This is a very nice bar."
I laughed.
"They must have really liked that Brennan guy," he continued.