Sandwiched in between an apartment complex and a gentlemen’s club lies a particular concert venue. Revolving light passes around a border of small light bulbs, illuminating the neon face of a stylized, old fashioned sign reading Great American Music Hall. Tonight is Tuesday, on stage performing is Berlin’s electronica artist IAMX, playing along are the headliners The Start. Last minute tickets are being sold underneath the canopy at the ticket office right across the street, people checking the street both ways as they run back to get in line, the passing cars offer declarations of censure to the jay walking concert goers. As the clock slowly but steadily counts down to eight o’clock the line of concert goers grows restless, the mood becoming more frantic 1with every chord and rumble escaping the concert hall as the artists prepare during their sound check. A numbing wind passes through the area as fan upon fan await for the signal to be thrown and the doors to be opened. The snaking line coiling down the block and it’s end, disappearing into the vanishing point of the street, never to be seen. On either side of this concert venue, a vision of urban decay and public neglect, but somehow that didn’t deter anyone from coming tonight. In fact, the grunge and discontent that physically manifested itself on the face of O’Farrell could even parallel that tumultuous stage every adolescent concert goer goes through. The Great American Music Hall is, thusly, a sanctuary amongst the grunge.
The Great American Music Hall is nothing less than what it’s namesake implies. A variable melting pot of artists and genres, that could satisfy even those with a particularly peculiar musical taste, perform on it’s wide open stage. It’s physical charm, a semblance of an era inspired by hard parties and lifestyles. Almost unnoticeable from the outside, this seemingly compact, 5,000-square-foot concert hall is San Francisco's oldest and grandest nightclub. It is an reverent reminder of a past, elegant era with its ornate balconies, soaring marble columns, elaborate ceiling frescoes and oak dance floor. The dance floor, while not large, can hold a reasonably sized crowd, and it’s oak floorboards enhance the already vintage, antique feel. On the first floor, a reminder of the Great American Music Hall’s indecorous past, a small bar for those ages twenty-one and over. It’s second floor, complete with a balcony for holding even more adoring fans. The stage is so open to fan and artist interaction, this openness, yet confined concert space provides a wonderfully intimate setting that both the performing artist and fans to share. From novices to concert veterans, it is definitely a great place to hang out and watch your favorite artist. It’s nostalgic ambiance, rich historical background, and a calender line up of artists make it a preferable late night outing any day of the week. Tonight, at least, the stage of the Great American Music Hall houses the visual and audial attack that is IAMX.
An hour and thirty minutes pass the originally planed time for the doors to open. The time is visually shown by the statuesque stances many have taken, and the cracked blue lips indicating the chill that had gone on for most of the day. At 6:45 p.m. the line almost triples in length, many of them braving the night air without jackets. The huddled somnambulant shuffling of every weary girl and boy, the cold night wind, it was all befitting the disaffected scenery. A picturesque image of desperation and hope for the evening to finally begin, everyone grudgingly thinking that they will get their money’s worth no matter what. And they understand that they will get what they paid for, they expect no less from this artist. Alas, the doors open and steadily and surely, fans enter the building and spill onto the dance floor. Separating the stage from the rest of the audience is a line of tall barstools, but other than that, there is nothing coming between the energies being emitted by the groups from both sides of the barstools. The separation from either group is minimal, and the tension wrought by all the excitement was maddening. It was a wildly entertaining and erotic evening. As the group IAMX walked out onto the stage, nothing but the screams and cries of the audience could be heard. They were here, and all there was left to do was dance.
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