The first time I heard Cigarettes After Sex was alone, smashed out drunk in an Uber on my way home in the wee hours of the morning. One year later, I am alone again, very much sober at the Teragram Ballroom at 9pm. The vibe is that of a house party that no one ever left, kind of trapped in time for 10-15 years as everyone aged. I’m severely regretting my casual decision to wear an Insane Clown Posse t-shirt as, surrounded by a murder of early-30s ex-goths, I feel significantly out of place. A girl -- also alone -- dressed like an old-timey train conductor comes over to me and we talk for a bit about both being alone and the youngest people there. It was a cute bonding moment. Anyway, I never saw her again. But that’s what Cigarettes After Sex is all about, yeah? Fleeting moments and burning impressions, man.
The band comes out, everyone gets h y p e -- which is weird, because as much as I love this band, they’re about to make everyone sad and nostalgic for an hour and a half. They start playing and I’m immediately in awe. The sound mixing of the live performance is truly astounding. The Teragram Ballroom is generally pretty good about their sound, but MAN this is perfect. Even though the room is packed, it feels so small and close and everything sounds perfectly damp and echoey.
On stage, it’s almost completely dark. Four figures are washed out in gray, lightly bobbing and swaying against the projections behind them. It begins with the back of a house, then it starts snowing as they come on stage, then lightning (!), then suddenly a glass marble rolling through the streets, then just blurs of black and gray.
An hour into the show, they start playing my #1 all-time fave, "Affection". Then they just keep rollin’ out the hits !! "Affection", "Apocalypse", "Nothing’s Gonna Hurt You Baby", O N E . A F T E R . A N O T H E R. After they play "NGHYB", everybody is going totally wild. This was when I realized that Cigarettes After Sex is basically Coldplay for sensitive goths.
Everyone is going bananas, the lead singer (Greg Gonzalez) is thanking everyone and saying how much he loves LA (west coast best coast baby). It’s just a beautiful communal moment between me and the goths and the old-timey train girl.
P.S. forgot to mention there was someone straight up popping and locking to Apocalypse in front of me. 10/10, highly recommend seeing this band live.
BY GEMMA SCHLADOW, DJ
AMATEUR HOUR- THURSDAYS, 8:00 PM - 9:00 PM