Beauty Bar on a Tuesday night is rarely crowded, but last night’s Handsome Furs concert made me wonder what the maximum capacity for the outdoor patio is and if we had passed it. The downtown bar hosted the kick-off event for automotive specialty products convention SEMA, offering free entry and free PBR, enough to draw every hipster in the greater metropolitan if local favorites Afghan Raiders, Weekly editor-stalking No Age and the electro rock Montreal duo Handsome Furs weren’t enough. Contributing to the close quarters were a T-shirt-making station and a show car boasting an unnecessary number of speakers, subwoofers and video game systems that took up a little too much space in the area typically reserved for wallflowers.
It had been a stressful day. I’d already unsuccessfully tried to ease my thoughts with comfort food and mindless television, but it was all undone by the billows of cigarette smoke and the crunch of discarded beer cans and plastic cups under my feet. A fake-polite, “Do not lean against the car,” when I wasn’t even leaning against the stupid car was the final straw. I would have paid for some breathing room or, heaven forbid, a place to rest my weary feet.
Then, Handsome Furs took stage, and the married duo from Montreal’s upbeat electro rock took over. Dan Boeckner (of Wolf Parade) and Alexei Perry were at ease with the crowd, joking with the audience about the long flight from London they’d taken that day and performing without a hint of jetlag. Suddenly, the too-crowded audience fell in synch. Hands rose. Feet moved. Lyrics were mouthed. Drunken hugs were given. Someone brought a bubble wand and blew tiny little bubbles that floated above the audience and popped on the string of Christmas lights on the patio.
There’s comfort food, like a hot bowl of chicken noodle soup or the stash of Life Saver Gummies in my desk drawer, then, there’s comfort music. When the beat of a snare drum feels like the beat of your heart – only stronger and less frail, the crowd becomes something to ebb with, not fight against. A dissonant voice on stage wails and harmonizes all your feelings and says all the words you want to say but never have. A melody can pulse through your veins like a drug and make you feel larger than life, or at the very least help you forget.
When you succumb to the sound, it feels like it’s all you’ll ever need.