I Miss the QE2
THE QE2 IS ALSO MISSED BY:
I miss the QE2. Simple. I'm not going to wax poetic. I'm just going to tell you why.
My first encounter with the QE2 was when I was in high school in Lake George, NY. My friend, Dr. Pretentious, had heard of this place that had a club night that played really cool music. The music we liked -- Ministry, Skinny Puppy, Sex Pistols, Fear. Music we didn't get to hear in Lake George. So we piled into a car and drove to the "big" city. And it was everything I expected. I remember one time Ministry's Stigmata had just started playing as we were walking in. To my chagrin, no one was moshing and I remarked as such. The bouncer simply stated "Make them mosh!" So we did. That was a great night. It was like having a CBGB's within a reasonable driving distance. We managed to make a few more trips before we all split up to go to college. When I went to college in Canton, NY to pursue my career and fortune in Vertebrate Paleontology, my trips to the QE2 became much more infrequent and I only managed to get there 3 or 4 times over 4 years when I came to visit Dr. Pretentious, et al. at SUNY Albany.
Flash forward a few years. I've completed college and my education in Geology for Vertebrate Paleontology has lead me to the exciting career of pizza delivery and, eventually, hardware retail hell. I started attending the Q on the usual "freak" nights. There used to be numerous bums who would stalk outside the Q waiting to ambush patrons for cigarettes or "25 cents to catch the Short Line to Saratoga." I recall one time being accosted by 4 or 5 of these bums saying basically the exact same thing when Tragedy, who was then bouncing, came outside and shooed them all off with a "Stop harassing our customers." Funny, I never thought of myself as a customer. It was more of a meeting place for those of us who were alike. It was during this time I met many great people including Char (who I didn't realize owned the place), Duane Beer, Tom Robb, and many, many more who I have to apologize to for not listing.
Tom convinced me to form a band with him. I'd play sax and he'd play guitar and we'd form a band influenced by the Birthday Party, goth bands, and garage rock. Although we didn't have our first show there (it was at Margarita's -- another defunct location where Rome now exists) Annabel Lee played many, many shows at the QE2. Char was very good to the bands and, I'd have to say, no club in Albany today is as band-friendly as the QE2 was. If you want to talk about supporting local music -- Char and the QE2 deserve a place in the hall of fame. Usually, all the door money went to local bands -- absolutely unheard of today. The Q made their money off of drink sales. Booking was a simple call to Char any day of the week you didn't have to wait till certain hours on a certain day of the week.
When we formed The Flying Buttresses (much to many people's surprise we formed in 1996) Char was very eager to have us play. Our very first show was booked with a call on the phone. We didn't have to submit a demo and we got paid! Not many club owners are willing to take risks on new, untested, local acts. The Buttresses played many shows at the QE2. We opened for the, then, relatively unknown Cruxshadows. We even did a theme night called "Incestfest" once where Annabel Lee, Dresden, and The Flying Buttresses played (Daniel Sin was in both Dresden and The Flying Buttresses and I was in both Annabel Lee and The Flying Buttresses). Life was good. We were playing out. We were in bands with great people, playing at a great place, and had great fans.
Then Tom died. When he died, it was a dark day for many of us. We were forced to examine our mortality and ephemeral nature. After his funeral, several of us went to the QE2 for drinks. We really wanted to be around our friends and throw back a few beers. I was sitting on the far right corner of the bar near the narrow pathway which, for some unknown reason, everyone (myself included) likes to stand in. Kim 13 told me to look behind the bar. There, directly in front of me, Char or someone had constructed a little memorial to Tom. It had a picture and told how much he'd be missed. Candles were lit around it. I was touched. We weren't customers. We were family.
Eventually, I decided to move on. Perhaps I needed my proverbial "time in the wilderness." I took a job in New York City and then one in Long Island which lead me to Baton Rouge, LA - were I got involved in the music scene.
Through my friends, I learned of the demise of the QE2. The first time I came to visit after the QE2 closed, I just stood outside and looked at it. I couldn't believe it had closed. I couldn't believe it was to reopen as a martini swing club. I was pissed. I kept reminding myself "all good things must come to pass." Besides there was nothing I could have done about it. But I was still pissed. The first time I set foot in the Fuze Box, the familiarity of surroundings returned but the place was no longer the same. Gone was the stage on which the likes of Marylyn Manson played before they made it big. Gone were the Wolman, giant foil bat, and hands and faces coming out of the ceiling. Sure, the urinal worked and the place was clean but I would have gladly traded it for the black-walled Q any day.
Now the QE2 is a bit of local music lore and legend. I hear many in the Goth scene bemoaning our referring to the QE2 all the time. I guess some of them didn't live in Albany when the Q was open or they were too young to have ever gone in. What they need to realize is we old-schoolers are remembering a time when we "freaks" had a sense of community, when local music was more actively supported, and when there really was a "CBGB's" for upstate New York.