On Saturday, Dec. 5, WW freelancers Nilina Mason-Campbell and Whitney Hawke took their Twilight-fandom to a new level, venturing out to the Tonic Lounge to see some dude who co-wrote a song for the original soundtrack. Normally we wouldn't post a live review so late, but this is just too weird to resist. I can't wait to see what happens in the comment section. -Ed.
I often ask myself what becomes of a pop culture phenomena after it's time has passed? Pop culture is so very of-the-moment. As in the case of Bobby Long, what becomes of the people and things on the fringe of a pop culture phenomena after the current has passed when they weren't even a part of the wave?
It's sometimes hard to remember the fervor that goes along with this, let alone it's components. I must say that I am still the proud owner of a 90201 Jason Priestly folder that has survived nearly two decades from the time I was elementary school age—but Jason was actually in the show. In the case of Bobby Long's fame, it all comes from the Twilight franchise. You know, that teen vampire abstinence extravaganza? Well, at least it comes indirectly from the movie. He's not an actor but a musician. One of his songs appeared on the original Twilight soundtrack, which was a whole two movies ago. And it wasn't even him singing the one song that found it's way onto the compilation. No, he's but a mere co-writer of one track. That and the fact he's besties with the film's breakout star, Robert Pattinson, are Bobby Long's claim to fame, so how long will it last? Does it even exist?
With that in mind, fellow WW contributor Whitney Hawke, our friend Marisa, and I made our way down to his show at the Tonic Lounge. The boy is pretty, so that doesn't hurt either. We were super curious: how far would his splinter of fame stretch? Would there be anyone there but us? For a night at the Lounge, the tickets were pretty steep: $15 a pop, with zero promotion for the show. The only way we were clued in was after Marisa happened across his MySpace the night before and saw that a Rose City show was a mere day away. Aside from the elevated ticket price, the show was at a 21 and over venue. Aren't most of Twilight's fans teenagers? Would the only people able to make the fragile connection between him and the franchise also be of that demographic?
It turns out the answer is a resounding NO. This is our story.
8:05 - We arrive and are told instantly that the guestlist hasn't arrived so Whitney, Marisa and I park ourselves in a booth to fill some time. NILINA MASON-CAMPBELL
8:20 - We check back in on the list, but it still hasn't arrived. Two other people are awaiting the list's arrival and we start talking. NMC
8:25 – We're at 30th and Sandy. I'm scared. WHITNEY HAWKE
8:28 - The list arrives and it's just my name on the list. The doorway tells me I can run back and track down Bobby Long's manager to sort it out. I do and am instantly astonished upon entering the room. I have to run back out to report to Whitney and Marisa that our prediction of being the only ones there is wrong. The room is packed. And there is only one guy. I go back in, find the manager and soon we're all able to enter. NMC
8:30 – We meet a photographer from a blog (a blogtographer?). His name is Justin. The boy is fine. WH
8:35 – After some mixup about the plus one, we're in! And oh... my... god. The first sight through the door is three portly Twi-Moms with G+T's pressed firmly in palm, their pocket point and shoot cameras are flashing away with wreckless abandon, capturing every second of Bobby Long's soundcheck onto the sweet digital medium. These Twi-Moms are giving him one of the most violent eye rapings I've ever seen. WH
8:50 – Bobby Long clearly prescribes to the Robert Pattinson hair care regimen: no washing, no cutting. But Bobby Long takes it to another level, as his hair is drooping down in front of his face so it hits just above his lip. Imagine the spawn of Cousin It and James Mercer. WH
8:52 - You know he's not half bad. He sounds like a bluesier David Gray, but with an American accent. Even though he's British. He pronounces all his lyrics without a hint that he's from overseas. He's very heartfelt. Brooding. Perfect ingredients for a heartthrob in training. NMC
8:53 – Aaaaand I just got half a Pabst poured down my back by an impressively drunk girl who is swaying above me. From this point on, this girl will be known as “Front Row Drunk Ho.” Every show has one. She gets better. WH
8:56 – Bobby Long is attempting to make small talk again, so, naturally, the British native starts talking about American college football. He says he saw part of the Florida game. “I like Tim Tebow” (crowd giggles) “I mean, not like that.” (more giggles) “I like cricket” (uproar!). If Bobby Long likes cricket, Twi-moms like cricket. WH
9:00 – We're 30 minutes into the show and there is one person here sporting both an X and a Y chromosome. He is standing in the far, far corner. His girlfriend is right up close to the stage, and has been recording the entire performance on her pocket camera. He comes up and gives her a back rub and a kiss on the head. She couldn't give less of a shit. I mean, the dude on stage co-wrote a song on the Twilight soundtrack! Thus, way more deserving of her undivided attention than her stupid caring boyfriend, psha! WH
9:02 - Bobby Long is officially crazy. Robert Pattinson level of crazy. The comments he's making onstage verify the same kooky, odd factor in common with the world's leading Brit heartthrob. That and the fact that he feels the responsibility to acknowledge every heckle. But more so for the odd, odd, odd sentences streaming from his mouth. NMC
9:03 – Bobby Long says he's going to play some song with “Love” in the title and the crowd goes wild! What gives? How do they know his songs? He has 3 hits on Lala. WH
9:06 – !!WE'VE ACHIEVED ROBERT PATTINSON STATUS!! In true Robert Pattinson fashion, Bobby Long tells an irrelevant, directionless story about how weird he is. It goes something like this: “Last night, I was in L.A., and this women came up to me after the show and said 'I've been analyzing you'... She said 'When your hair is in front of your eyes, you don't want to talk to people, but when it's not in your eyes, you do.'” WH
9:08 – Marisa mumbles something to me, it sounds angry and the only words I get out of it are “fucking” and “killing.” Love her. WH
9:09 – Oh balls! Front Row Drunk Ho is back after spilling a beer down my neck and now she's wielding a vodka cran! Man, this girl is doubleplus drunk. She's swaying... SWAYING... almost falls onto the stage. WH
9: 10 - The drunk girl is wobbling back and forth. We are all getting uneasy, especially because Whitney is sitting closest to her. Marisa leans in to say, "Don't die." It officially segues into Drunk Watch 2009. The woman begins twisting as Bobby Long sings the opening lyrics of his next song. The song appears to be perfectly timed as his first words- "I'm afraid to die"—seem to mirror Whitney's present situation. Drunk girl drops her glass and it shatters into a hundred pieces. She fails to react at all, not even a flinch. During the next song a bartender arrives to sweep it away. Marisa excuses herself to the hallway to burst out laughing. Whitney and I get up, snickering in disbelief. NMC
9:10 – And it's down! Front Row Drunk Ho just dropped the vodka cran in the middle of a song. Glass shattered and it's everywhere. And she's completely unphased! She hasn't moved an inch! She doesn't do anything! I don't think she has even realized what she's done! Marisa stumbles down the hallway laughing uncontrollably. Nilina and I move to the side wall so as not to drown in the reservoir of beer and vodka Front Row Drunk Ho has managed to pool on the floor where we were sitting. WH
9:12 - Whitney leans in saying, "You know that girl who's been taking video? That's her boyfriend in the corner. I feel so bad. Ouch." The ouch is oh so very true. He's pacing around in the corner around his girlfriend as though he's an obedient dog with less space than a Scamp's cage. He attempts to get her attention by stroking her back. No such luck. Her attention is focused squarely on Bobby Long, who is crooning with all his heart from the center of the stage. For the actual talent he's exhibiting, it's odd that he's nearly upstaged by his fans, but such is the reality of the night, with Drunk Girl providing equal entertainment, stumbling around in place like Twilight's clumsy faux-heroine Bella. NMC
9:14 – The song ends and Front Row Drunk Ho STILL HASN'T MOVED. A bar employee is not sweeping up the glass at her feet and she still... hasn't... moved. This is incredible. I don't know how she's still standing. WH
9:14 - Bobby Long is interacting with the mass of moms in between nervous swigs from his green glass bottle of Heineken. One inquires into what his nights have been like. He gripes briefly about L.A. while one mom, who we later deemed English Teacher Mom, continually sips from a water bottle.
English Teacher Mom: "Did you get chased last night?"
Bobby Long: "I get chased every night. You have no idea how hard it is (deadpanned)."
English Teacher Mom: "I know you did. I watched it."
Okay now. NMC
9:15 Whitney is drawing Long's coif in her Moleskine pad. I tell her to label it like anatomy. NMC
9:18 - I'm trying to figure Drunk Girl out. I'm thinking some of her excessive drinking was in part to give her courage. I mean this might be her only night in the presence of someone who co-wrote a song on the soundtrack of a 2008 teen vampire flick. She could be alone for a host of reasons. She's got dyed black hair. Her boots look combative. One reason could be that she feels that no one understands her. She's a bit overgrown for Twilight, not fitting into either of its two biggest fantasies: teens and moms. The final (and likely) reason? Maybe bringing a friend along would've meant further competition for Bobby Long's affection. NMC
9:20 – This crowd would make for the hardest game of “Fat or Pregnant” you've ever played. WH
9:23 - The moment he sings the line "I lost my British soul," Marisa leans in to inform me that the song is about him losing his grandfather. My internal dialog provides this response: "And how would you know that, non-fan?" NMC
9:25 – The Twi-mom's seem to be engaging in a battle to see who can blurt out the creepiest crowd participation of the night. From the high school English teacher woman drinking bottled water, chewing gum while sitting perfectly upright in the front row: “Did you get chased last night?” Bobby Long responds with “Yeah, actually, I did.” Mom: “I thought you did... I saw it.” The mom's then continue to brag about seeing his shows in Seattle and how they've been to each of his last three shows. Way to go ladies, that'll make him hot. WH
9:30 – Bobby Long is singing a song about a “suffragette” and trying to rhyme it with “Mary Jane.” News flash: “suffragette” doesn't rhyme with shit, dog. WH
9:26 - He just keeps getting better and better. His music. His level of pretty. No, really—his talent and commitment is becoming more apparent with every song he belts out. NMC
9:29 - I have the idea to call out "mom!" to see what reaction we'd get. I refrain. NMC
9:30 - "He has a good voice," Marisa says. NMC
9:33 - Drinks arrive courtesy of the "blogtographer" as Whitney has deemed him. Champagne, champagne and a beer. NMC
9:34 – This room is filled with people who look like they can't take a joke. I really hope none of them read this. WH
9:35 - I scream at the tail end of his song. We quickly realize that when we scream for him, it makes them scream louder. A new sport is born.
"How much time do I have?" Long ask innocently. "All night!" English Teacher Mom screams manically. Hoots and hollers from the rest of the crowd commence. He just had to walk himself into that, huh? NMC
9:38 - Three words: Drunk Girl intervention. Her two friends, who have apparently been seated in a dark corner off to the side of the stage in embarrassment, finally step in and try to persuade her that she's had enough. Enough to drink, enough of the show. However, she makes it clear she's not leaving early. NMC
9: 42 - Whitney renames her Front Row Drunk Ho then takes a sip of beer in accomplishment. NMC
9:49 - Drunk Girl is looking distressed. We begin planning our screams for the next break in song. Marisa has some empathy for the fanmoms surrounding us, equating their love for this unsigned young Brit to her Thermals fandom. Good try, but it doesn't quite compute. NMC
9:49 – He prefaces what he's about to do with this statement: “This could be the biggest fuck up of all time.” WH
9:50 – He's singing a cover of Elliott Smith's “Between the Bars” and killin' it! WH
9:50 - "This could possibly be the biggest fuck up ever," Bobby Long declares as he slips into a rather rad Elliott Smith cover. When he finishes I ask whether he learned the song specifically to play in Portland. He tells me that he's known it for a while and has played it a "a few times" then jovially adds that "this is turning into a question and answer session." Then Marisa yells up "You're in Portland" to add a context to my questions. He responds: "I know. I know where I am." Heckling rules!
I notice that the boyfriend of Girlfriend Mom is trying desperately to bond with her, vying to get her attention whatever way possible. She still doesn't pay him an ounce of attention. NMC
9:53 - Boyfriend is SINGING ALONG with Girlfriend Mom! NMC
9:54 Photographer guy indulges in scream. A scream that he was forced into by the three of us. He seems to enjoy it. NMC
9:56 – Nilina and I have started screaming louder after each song. We've found that the louder we scream it just adds fuel to the Twi-mom's flame. Marisa's responds by yelling “STOP FEEDING IT! STOP FEEDING IT!” WH
9:57 - Marisa is devising ways to meet Bobby Long while at the same time becoming aware and then concerned about how I'm recording her advancing levels of seemingly fangirl-ishness for him. She proclaims, "This was worth $15. This is a $25 night. One of the most memorable nights ever…for its hilarity." We can all agree on that. We are enjoying ourselves immensely. And almost unpredictably so. But that's the thing about teeny-bopper related events. They are always worthwhile. More than worthwhile. NMC
9:58 - Drunk Girl checks for her friends to make sure they're still there. NMC
10:03 - Divebar Mom, rocking some sleeveless flannel, smiles at me while I dance thinking I'm a legit Long fan. NMC
10:05 – The set is finally over after nearly two hours. WH
10:09 - We see two girls that are very near our age. What is going on? We approach them to find out. They're initially a little suspicious as to why we'd come up to them, but once we explain they tell us how they lived in England for a year and caught him live before he blew up. Blew up on the fanmoms circuit. One of them curiously speaks with a British accent even though she's told us she's form the states and only lived there for a year. NMC
10:24 – Marisa comes back from the bar double fisting champagne. The night starts getting good. WH
10:40 – We've been watching the massive line of Twi-moms talk to Bobby Long for what seems like forever. He started at the merch table in the middle of the room and has literally backed all the way into the corner with no escape route. WH
10:52 – Nilina: “Front Row Drunk Ho is making an encore presentation!” Whitney: “What is she doing?” Nilina: “She's approaching him!” WH
11:00 – After watching this poor boy get his ass cougared for an hour, we look over to see him engaged in this awkwardly long embrace with Divebar Mom. She's clenched on to him with a vice-like grip. Believing we're witnessing a fit of Jonas-Brothers-level hysteria over this C-list pop star, we start saying “Is she crying? Is she crying!” It's at this moment a girl cranes her neck over the booth, glares, and says, “She's crying because her grandpa just DIED!” … Fuck. WH
11:01 – Whitney: “Now I feel bad.” Nilina: “I don't. We didn't say anything bad. We just said she was crying. There's nothing wrong with stating the facts and finding enjoyment out of them.” Whitney: “Yeah, that's what journalism is!” WH
11:05 - We hover near the merch table to ask his manager whether we can take some candid pics of Bobby Long. He tells us to snap away, snap away in a manner that makes me a little uncomfortable. It's a very zoo-like atmosphere. And it's like Bobby Long is the unwitting attraction to be prodded, poked and photographed without a care for his own well-being. Whitney keeps talking about the plain merch table. It's there to maximize his dollar potential, without a care for its actual merchandise. We notice the T-shirt brand is not the typical American Apparel or Fruit of the Loom. Nope, it's a brand called Bella. Like the girl from Twilight. Coincidence? I think not. NMC
11:10 - We initially turn away from doing the photos, but then decide to get in line alongside all the fanmoms (which is what we'd hoped to have avoided by approaching his manager and arranging something) because I need to know whether he's going to acknowledge reality about how weird and discomforting this situation is or if he's gonna be media trained and find a way to be enthusiastic about the fact that the average age of his fans is 40+. NMC
11:13 – We finally walk over to Bobby Long and ask to take his picture for this blog post. The kid is tired as shit. We tell him how fucked this gig is and he says, “Yeah, it's kind of like it's your 18th birthday everyday. And you're the birthday boy.” Bobby Long looks like he's gonna go kill himself. We need to get this kid on suicide watch. WH
11:16 – Fulfilling her nice gesture of the day, Marisa goes up to Bobby Long and invites him to the Gnome Party happening at the World's Greatest Ghosts house. He seems interested and asks for her number (gasp!). She provides. WH
11:18 – We've finally made it out of the Tonic Lounge and are mobbin' towards the car, but wait! “NILINA, IT'S A SIGN!” There's a road sign, post and all, laying in the gutter of Sandy Blvd. The night really can't get weirder. WH
11:20 – After photo documenting the sign, we tuck the hot blogtographer under our wings and take him to the Gnome Party, just in time to catch World's Greatest Ghosts sweaty set. WH
11:35 - An Entertainment Weekly magazine baring Robert Pattinson is discovered in the Ghost Realm's bathroom:
1:20 – Bobby Long never calls. He's probably offed himself by now. WH