The Comeback Artist | Night Court | South Florida | Broward Palm Beach New Times | The Leading Independent News Source in Broward-Palm Beach, Florida

The Comeback Artist

It's Wednesday night at 11, the Broward Center is disgorging hundreds of The Phantom of the Opera viewers into the hot Florida night, and the friends I watched the play with were trying to say their goodbyes. A couple of soporific hours of Andrew Lloyd Webber and all of a sudden they had to turn in like their names were Chester and Bunny and they lived in the Hamptons.

Wrong barrier island, dudes. But I knew the antidote. "How's 'bout indie-rock karaoke at Grady's dive bar?"

No reason to kill the party yet. In my mind, partying is like a sport, and come to think of it, back in my days of competitive swimming, I had a coach named Grady. No joke. And just when I was spent and winded and thought practice was done, he'd be like, "Let's do one more set of ten one-hundreds. Hambright, why don't you do them butterfly?"

"'Cause that sucks." And it did suck.

You fling your arms, you push your body forward, and zone your mind out because your system had not anticipated another 15 minutes of full exertion. But then, something amazing happens: You catch your second wind, nail the set, and realize that you have fewer limits than you thought you did.

This is exactly the approach I've come to take toward partying. And I got to put it to use the very next night.

I was nearly in bed after another fucked-up day when my cell phone exploded. It was my Jameson-swigging compadre, J Ziz, telling me I had to check out Happy Anarchy at Alligator Alley. Career Girl was there and the party was already under way, so who was I to turn that offer down? I already knew what was going to happen in that funky, swamp-themed beer bar. I was going to drink more beer than my hungover belly could muster.

But I remembered Coach Grady's words and decided to rely on that second wind. So I traded PJs for blue jeans and stumbled into the Alley in a half stupor to find an enormous band on stage with a trombone player going all out.

Happy Anarchy, a crew of clean-cut rockers from Staten Island, was fun, and it wasn't long before we were shouting "Do it" as the band went into each song, dancing around the near-empty bar, and playing air trombone. Urged on by the power of the night and in that delusional bad-ideas-seem-like-good-ideas zone of partying decision-making, Career Girl and I came up with the clever notion of inviting Happy Anarchy to hang with us after the show, which meant we actually had to go and party, instead of going home. Sucks.

Bands on tour generally should be avoided, ick. But we agreed this band was different, clownish, cool, and loaded with cute boys. And a cute-boy entourage would make for the best night of dancing ever.

So the next thing I knew, I was standing in front of the stage telling the cute boys, "We're not, like, trying to hook up with you guys or anything, but we'd like to invite you guys to party with us."

They were like, "Cool."

Two minutes later, Career and I were waning. "Oh shit, we're tired."

But the boys were ready to go. We packed Gabe McMahon, the 22-year-old drummer, and Adam Weissman, the 23-year-old keyboard player, into the car. And on the the way to the party, they asked, "How old are you guys?"

Career Girl and I looked at each other, having each passed the 25th mile marker, when the age-guessing game is no longer fun to play. So we played it off. "How old do we look?"

A drink or two at the Rose and Crown Pub later, we were flailing around the dance floor like looney tunes slipping on marbles to the Proclaimers "500 Miles," and we felt so awesome.

Our second wind had really kicked in.

But then these two jerks in front of the DJ booth started imitating us. I danced over to imitate them imitating me, like to say "piss off," but that only made them imitate me more spastically.


But just as suddenly, the Happy Anarchy boys spilled out on the dance floor, loving the Postal Service, Strokes, Blur mix-up, and they were fun as hell to dance with. So cute boys on our left and our right, we were unleashing flavor all over the place, schmoozing in a big circle, and Career Girl busted out with, "Isn't this just like a seventh-grade dance?"

Everyone was like, "Huh?"

And I whispered to Career "Isn't Joe [Pecora] cute?" as I totally avoided him on the dance floor.

She pushed him toward me and was like, "Go dance with Courtney."

Blush. So yeah, Career was right -- it really was like a seventh-grade dance.

I don't know why it always blows my stack when I hear Pulp's "Common People," but we were jumping, flailing, and singing every word like we'd known each other forever. Old Coach Grady was right. It was the mindless daze of that last butterfly set that you never wanted to do but were glad you did.

A little after 4 a.m., we waved goodbye to Happy Anarchy, promising to go to their two remaining shows over the weekend. Then, slam! We hit the wall, and Career and I both woke up sick as dogs. Joe had left a sad-sounding message, hoping we'd show at their next gig. "I don't know if I'm going to be able to play. I'm going to spend half the set in the bathroom crying. I just thought I should tell you that. Maybe I'll see you later; maybe not."

Not fair. Don't hate us, coolest Staten Island rock band ever.

I even have a doctor's note.

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Courtney Hambright