No music had started yet and the sun was still bright when I rolled up to the Corpse Fortress, but there were already quite a few people there, as is the case when any truly great venue is having its last hurrah – everybody wants to be on the scene.
I ran into people I don’t think I’d ever seen at the Corpse Fortress before, and of course the majority of the regulars and housemates were already there as well.
I heard a lot of bitching and moaning about the end of the era.
Overall, however, most of the people weren’t there to cry – they were there to laugh really hard with their friends in and around the least safe space in the D.C. scene – just like they’d done so many times before at the Corpse Fortress.
So, since most of the people there were going to do the same thing they did at every other Corpse Fortress show, I decided to treat it the same way I treated the overwhelming majority of the shows I attended there, which means I did not go downstairs for most of the show.
In other words: Here’s what was REALLY happened at the Corpse Fortress that night.
I was asked to review this event beforehand and consequently should have done a better job of remembering which band sounded like what and all that jazz, because at the time it was relevant to my story.
I wanted to be able to say that during “The Gift,” or “The Deads,” or whomever, the music sounded like “(insert relevant reference here),” while I hit a joint that smelled like roach spray with some twitchy 15-year-old in the driveway, but, honestly, too much time has passed for me to retain that information (or maybe it is just the Raid kicking in).
What I can say is that the bands that night were tight and at least one or two of the earlier ones had a doom-y vibe going on and got things started nice and slow, inside, which was not the case outside.
When the music inside started trudging along, the action outside quickly spiraled out of control.
There were people throwing bottles at each other, fireworks being brandished, and on at least three (3) occasions I saw people engaging in inexperienced outdoors sex of one variety or another. The amount of uninhibited sex was one of the variables that set this show apart from its many predecessors, but it was not particularly shocking, because this was a celebration of the life-cycle of a venue, and the Corpse Fortress was about to blow its final load.
Just like at hundreds of other Corpse Fortress shows, the people who came to swarm the hellish basement rolled out like the tide with the last notes of one band and then rolled back in when the first riffs of the next band sounded.
This became one of my focal points that night, because right after the first band wrapped up and all the “insiders” came out, the tension increased. It seemed that as soon as the two groups (“insiders” vs. “outsiders”) became intertwined, suddenly someone (generally someone from my clan of “outsiders”) would do something ignorant (such as using unacceptable speech, or trying to do cocaine of off someone’s car), and then the (outside) yelling would start again.
I realized that this was probably going to be a big part of my story by the time that the second band finished up and the two groups mixed again.
I’d opted to remain as sober as I could throughout the evening so I could craft this story well, but I didn’t anticipate the generosity I was offered that night. Before the sun set I’d already crushed more than a six-pack and smoked a lot of pot.
When I heard the inevitable sounds of a scuffle, I turned around to see if it was the (insert hate speech here) in the flannel who I wanted to see get beat, but it wasn’t – it was the guy in the COPSTABBER shirt.
“Scuffle” really is the right term, or perhaps “fracas” – I don’t believe any punches were thrown and almost certainly none were landed, but the guy who didn’t like the COPSTABBER fan’s speech had the young man in a headlock and was telling him that there was “no room for that bullshit” here. “LOL,” I thought.
The funniest thing was that although the young hate speaker was thrown out for his use of one particular “F word,” I saw the same kid get re-ejected from the party by different people at least two or three more times throughout the night, and never for the same thing! Go hard, young COPSTABBER fan! Don’t let anybody tell you how to party!
It was starting to feel like a Corpse Fortress show.
Soon night fell, and while there was still quite a bit of partying happening outside, I realized that my visual acuity was being hampered by creeping darkness and creeping intoxication, and that my readers would suffer if I didn’t move this party indoors.
It was time to plant myself in what I suppose one might call the “fake-ass dining room,” which is, in fact, what I always called the room at the top of the basement stairs. A series of people came and went during my time in there – some would contribute to my story, some were basically wallpaper.
One thing I knew for sure is that I wasn’t going downstairs, because every time someone came up from, or opened the door to descend into, the Corpse basement, the cauldron unleashed powerful simultaneous waves of heat and body odor that hit yours truly with multiple layers of discomfort.
I remember laughing loudly at a young concertgoer clearly trying to snort something off a key and again laughing at him getting for chastised for doing so – only to personally get caught by the very same chastiser (I don’t even know who he was) while doing the exact same thing roughly two minutes later. “LOL,” I thought to myself. At least the chastiser knew enough to keep his mouth shut and just gave me a disapproving look, because the party was getting evermore ignorant.
My favorite moment of the night was when I was sitting on a couch and a kid I met earlier in the night walked into the fake-ass dining room and blurted, “I just got a blow-job outside from a complete stranger! I think it was a girl!”
He then walked back outside.
This was my night and this was a lot of other nights. This was the Corpse Fortress: The home of the brash, outrageous, and free.
I know the Corpse Fortress meant a lot of different things to the people reading this.
For some unfortunate individuals, it was a home. Others viewed it as a consistent venue for shows. For me, it was a place to party. It was a place where I never knew what would happen, or to whom, but I knew that I would laugh about it later. That’s what kept me coming back for more.
As the Coits were preparing to do their thing I got handed some amphetamines. I eventually decided that I would move upstairs so as to not bother others (or be bothered by others) while I enjoyed my last lines in the Corpse Fortress. I cut them out on the arm of some furniture. A young lady walked upstairs and asked if she could have some.
I left her a taste of my pills and walked downstairs, out the front door, and into the future.