I saw The Three O’Clock at Great American Music Hall last week, a reunion show that placed me as an audience member some 30 years after seeing them at The Palace in Los Angeles at age 15. Mod Male recently wrote a blog post about their influential music and fashion sense. Here I was, however, dragging my lesbian child-bride to something I hoped would spark distant memories and create new ones.
Both were the case. More on that in a moment. For the time being, as I picked out a perfect tie for the show, I thought about a mention of the band in Frontiers LA’s article, Gay for Play, where lead singer Michael Quercio is referenced as “openly gay”. A link to the article was posted on the Three O’Clock Facebook page along with spirited responses, including one from Quercio (“F-OFF”) that I tended to agree with. Openly gay? What’s that got to do with 1980s psych-pop? Or the reunion of one of my favorite childhood bands? (They still sound so great!) Would someone really go see a band just because someone in it’s gay? Why hadn’t the gay press given Quercio the time of day over the last 30 years? Had the gay police widened the search for musical icons? Have we once and for all moved beyond house music, Tracy Chapman, and Tegan and Sara?
On the one hand, new gay icons are fantastic. Gay culture needs as much diversity as it can get. On the other hand, going to see the Three O’Clock only marginally brought up issues of sexual identity for me. What it did more than anything is, indeed, bring back those original memories of seeing them at age 15. The excitement of my first concert. Taking a bus from Duarte (near Pasadena) to Hollywood and Vine with my older brother. Giving change to a homeless person for the first time. Using the fakest ID in history—handwritten by a friend. (The door guy told me, “I guess this’ll have to do” and let me in.) Witnessing two people French kiss for the first time. Seeing Michael Quercio, who I had a huge crush on, from right near the stage. Hearing songs in person that I’d only appreciated from the privacy of my cloistered teenage room, and singing along to all of them. Being showered with falling balloons at the end of the show. Trying to get home after being told we needed exact change for the bus—change that had gone to the homeless guy.
Maybe I’m old, or world-worn, or perhaps I’ve lived in San Francisco too long. Or maybe loyalty to teen idols trumps everything else. I’m certain of one thing only: the gayest moment of the evening came not from seeing Michael Quercio on stage, but from running into our lesbian gynecologist. How gay is that?