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Taking One For The Team: The Brokencyde Concert Challenge

[Ed. note: Joe Mande, stand-up comedian and the creator of the popular blog Look At This Fucking Hipster(now a popular book!) is forced to do things that we don’t want to do, for our education and amusement. If you have a challenge/suggestion, submit it to [email protected].]

Hello, monsters. I know it’s been a while since I last took one for the team. I imagine some of you are disappointed with me, which is valid. I feel ashamed about it. But, please try to understand that I do have a life outside of Videogum. And sometimes that life gets sidetracked for months while I try unsuccessfully to lure Frankie Muniz into a Twitter fight with me. But I’m back in the T14TT saddle, and that’s all that matters.

So anyway, remember Brokencyde? Yeah, you guys remember Brokencyde. Well, two nights ago, I drove to New Jersey to see a real-life Brokencyde concert. Actually, no, that’s not quite true. Two nights ago, I drove to a weird warehouse in South Hackensack, New Jersey to see Brokencyde, AND THE FIVE (FIVE!) BANDS THAT OPENED FOR BROKENCYDE, play a real-life concert.

Two dollars a band? What a rip off.

Here’s a breakdown of the evening:

(First, it should be noted that I brought two tickets to the concert, hoping a videographer would to come with me to professionally document the experience. For some odd reason, no videographer wanted to do that. So instead, my friend Noah came along to help shoot some footage. And by help shoot some footage, I mean he played Words with Friends on his iPhone the whole time.)

According to my tickets, the doors were to open at 6:00 pm. According to my Google Map directions, the route from Brooklyn to South Hackensack could take as long as an hour and a half with traffic. So, according to me, I decided we should leave a little before 4:30 pm.

“Hey Noah, is the School of Rock on Schrieffer Street or Schreiffer Street?” – An actual thing I said out loud.

About twenty minutes later, we were there. Way too early. I knew I didn’t want to be the first ones in line for a Brokencyde concert, because I knew we (the two full grown men attending a Brokencyde conert) would look lame. So we decided to drive around Hackensack looking for something to do for an hour. Ultimately, that something to do ended up being a mediocre meal at a nearby Italian restaurant where the waiter refused to believe we weren’t a gay couple. I really think it got us mentally prepared for the show.

When we returned to the venue a little after 6:00pm, there was a long line of kids, all with this haircut, waiting outside. Even though the show was advertised as “All Ages,” it was clear the ideal age was somewhere below the legal age to drive a car, because there were a bunch of parents sitting idling in cars in the parking lot, watching to make sure their depressed child got in the venue okay. It honestly felt like we were at the first day of Suicide Girl Scout camp.

“Mom! Go away! You’re embarrassing me!” – Everyone in line.

Eventually, the doors opened and we all filed into the School of Rock. The school itself is split into two sections: a front area with classrooms, where little children presumably learn how to play musical instruments, and a back area with a sad performance space where slightly older kids who don’t really know how to play instruments play sad concerts in front of sad audiences. Theoretically, the sad performance space could probably hold five or six hundred sad people, but on Sunday there were only about 100-120 sad people.

As stated before, there were five (FIVE!) opening bands for Brokencyde. The very first was a local band called “Blinding Lights”. They were clearly a bunch of high school kids trying to be the auto-tune version of New Found Glory. They were very happy and nervous and full of optimism. All their parents were there to watch them play a cover of that Dynamite song. It was actually kid of adorable, in the same way a Pug puppy is adorable. Like, it’s cute right now, but only right now, because eventually it’s going to grow up to become a fucking Pug.

#1 Blinding Lights fan.

The next performer was a dude named Alex York. I honestly had no idea what his deal was. Imagine if Billy Idol had sex with Adam Lambert’s half-brother. That’s Alex York. Dude had me cracking up the whole time. I’m pretty sure his band thinks he’s a joke too, because they were all wearing Jabbawockeez masks to hide their identities.

Alex York and a few people who don’t want you to know they play with Alex York.

After whatever the fuck Alex York was, the “real” show started. That’s when the band “The Hit” (good name) took the stage. I don’t know if the wide-eyed kids in Blinding Lights got to see The Hit perform (I assume they all had to go home to cram for that biology quiz in first period, because they were seriously children), but oh man I really wish the kids in Blinding Lights got to see The Hit perform. Because The Hit is their future; day after day they drive into a new gross town, eat Taco Bell, unload the van, sing the exact same cover of that exact same Dynamite song for kids with the exact same haircut, commit a little statch, load the van back up, and drive on to the next gross town. I’m not saying that’s not a desirable life, but yes I am. The Hit were disgusting.

The Hit was also the first band of the night to tell the crowd to wake up over and over again. This became the theme of the night. Constantly being to told to wake up. “Wake up, you guys! Wake up! We need you to wake the fuck up!” Yo, how about you chill? It’s Sunday night. God’s night! Show some respect.

Next up was a group called Kill Paradise, who spent a good 20 minutes before they started setting up their own light kit and fog machine. And to their credit, they totally had a light kit and fog machine up there. That’s pretty much all I remember about them. Lights and fog. When their set ended, they spent a few minutes disassembling their light kit, only to then come back on stage to help set up a different light kit for the next band. Now, I’m not an electro-screamo-pop-punk light kit expert, but I really think that sometime before the show all the electro-screamo-pop-punk bands could have met up and agreed in advance to share the same light kit. But you know how electro-screamo-pop-punks are…(unwilling to share their light kits.)

The penultimate act of the night was Millionaires. If you don’t know their deal, Millionaires is this real-life sister duo who are basically two Ke$has to the Snooki power. And no joke, you guys, I think I maybe loved Millionaires? I don’t know! I can’t tell. I felt so conflicted watching them. I wanted to M/F/K them all at once. If you told me Millionaires were brain dead zombie whores, I’d believe it. Conversely, if you told me they were genius performance art prodigies, I’d totally believe that too. They were amazing. It was like watching a couple of disgusting human garbage bags flutter in the wind.

This is me watching Millionaires:

The first thing the Millionaires girls said when they hit the stage was “Middle finger in the air if your pussy’s tight!”  That’s how it started! Within five minutes, they instructed the crowd (of CHILDREN, mind you) to pop pills, snort cocaine, suck dick, and fuck without condoms. It was nuts. I’ve never felt more like a dad. I started looking around the room to find an adult (the Principal of Rock, perhaps?) to come and stop them. Then I realized I WAS THE ADULT! It was a nightmare.

The Millionaires only sang (Ha! “Sang.”) four songs before storming offstage to sulk at their merch table 20 yards away. It was clear from their body language and attitude that they thought they should be headlining the show. And despite the fact that they had just put on the most appalling thing I’d ever seen, I couldn’t have agreed more. Millionaires really should have been headlining.

Once the Millionaires’ light kit was taken down, and the final light kit of the night was set up – it was Brokencydetyme! This was the reason I was in New Jersey missing 60 Minutes! Almost immediately it became clear that Brokencyde was the worst band of the night. I mean, obviously. They are terrible. In fact, they were the worst band I’d ever seen. Brokencyde consists of three white dudes with this haircut all screaming over shitty Pro Tools beats while a shirtless black dude plays drums in the dark behind them. Again, I couldn’t help feeling like a dad. “They’re just screaming!” I thought to myself. “This isn’t music! GIN BLOSSOMS is music!”

I did admire how Brokencyde tried to harmonize their screaming. I’d never seen that before. One guy did a high-register screech, another did a low-register growl, and the front man kept it in the middle with a more practical bellow. Also, their between-song banter was a lot like that of The Hit’s, with a lot of talk about weed and sex and how we all needed to wake up. At one point they got the crowd to chant “Fuck Brokencyde,” which I found surprisingly cathartic. Then, after they finished their last song and waited offstage for an encore, some dude in the back of the room called them a “bunch of pussies.” So then, of course, Brokencyde all came back out onstage and threatened to fight the dude outside. But it was clear that they didn’t mean it. Because they are clearly all pussies. Which is fine! I’m a big pussy. That’s how I can spot other big pussies! This guy knows what I’m talking about! (Ugh. Sorry.)

I actually kind of felt bad for Brokencyde by the end? As a comedian, I’ve had my fair share of shitty gigs, but nothing as uniquely depressing as this. I never knew how hard the road was for electro-screamo-pop-punks. So, to show my pussy solidarity, I made sure to hit up the Brokencyde merch table before I left.

“How many slap bracelets can I buy to make you stop forever?”

In any case, I edited the five-hour concert down into a manageable three minute video. I hope you watch it and enjoy it because I went there for you: