The Story of That One Time I Opened for New Order

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Mario on the decks (The original image is no longer available, please contact KCRW if you need access to the original image.)

In the interest of sharing and (given my increasingly failing memory) having a sketch of the events that transpired on the evening of October 7th, 2012, I will now share with you a few highlights of the night I did a couple of DJ sets at The Greek and basically opened for New Order.

After Saturday night’s KCRW show, I woke up around 9:30 am and started working on playlists. Burning CDs like a madman until around 2pm, at which point I realized I hadn’t eaten or anything for almost 24 hours.

So I get together with my college homie and go out for chilaquiles. Halfway through a heaping plate of salsa verde chilaquiles, I think to myself (Is this a good idea? What am I doing?) Nervous system switched-on. As per usual, he and I are talking about aliens and Bruce Willis and I just freeze up. Unable to eat, talk, or anything as the actual facts of the day (and the chilaquiles?) suddenly come slamming down on my head like a cartoon piano. He realizes something is happening to me and asks me if I wanna go. I’m all like “Yeah man. Go…uhhh, gotta go.”

See, in a little over an hour from point chilaquiles, my super-rad girlbud was gonna come pick me up and drive me to The Greek, where I’d be spinning to a sold out crowd…and more or less setting the stage for arguably the most influential band of my generation, not to mention my favorite, New Order. So…there’s that.

I get home and toss my keys on the table. Deliriously queasy from salsa verde, I decide to scrap my playlist and start over from scratch. Cold sweats. The hum of new CDs burning. Pacing. More CDs. This goes on for an hour.

I am not cool. I am Amanda Plummer twitchily trying to hold up the diner in Pulp Fiction. I need Samuel Jackson to show up and yell, “Bitch be cool!” But, instead, Taryn girlbud’s car pulls up downstairs. I now realize she probably would’ve liked to have come up and have a celebratory cocktail or something…but in the moment I could only speak in fitful grunts so I called her, grunted, grabbed my stuff and made ape-ish gestures to her as I lurched towards her car.

I get in the car, scowling. Grumbling. She is patient. She is lovely and dressed up in this beady black and gold dress that gives her the air of Cleopatra in Oscar de la Renta vibes. Even in this grievously anxious state, the dress commands respect. “Nice,” I growl/sneer, now virtually lost in Raoul Duke levels of self-loathing. (That was some seriously heavy salsa verde.) “Oh my good. You’re a mess,” she says. “You’re gonna be ok.”

We pull into the parking lot at the base of Griffith Park and she turns off the car. She looks me in the eye and tries to appeal to the logical man buried beneath a mountain of crazed anxious rubble. She pulls me out of myself, and back into myself. Reminds me, this is happening. And it’s awesome. And it is.

We walk up to The Greek, and as we’re escorted backstage, I can hear New Order soundchecking, go over the chorus of  “Close Range” off 2001’s “Get Ready“. This is happening.

Their manager approaches us and shakes my hand and invites me to New Order’s Green Room for a beer. We sit. We chat. He tells me he dug the Can track I played on the show the night before. We talk about their recent trek to Ibiza. I unknowingly start venturing into a conversation about things he rather not comment on regarding the band’s storied history. We talk about Tame Impala and LA’s thriving House scene. He is brilliantly proper and very sweet.

The stage manager interjects to escort me to my green room. My green room? We go. Relax. Answer calls and texts from friends and family until I am called down for my soundcheck at 6:30.

I soundcheck for about :30 seconds before doors open. At which point, I proceed to spin for a slowly filling Greek Theatre for an hour. Starting kinda slowly with Jai Paul, Kindness, I eventually moved into a set of new music by a grip of local heroes: Poolside, Cosmic Kids, Sonns.

Then, opening band Run, Run, Run nicely brought the alt-rock n roll guitar vibes for 35 minutes at which point I got ready to go on again for about 35 minutes, with the charge from New Order to “go for it. ramp it up.”

I’m going to try, but I cannot really really describe the experience of walking out on to that stage after the sun has set and the seats are filled. It was a completely different place. A weird place, like that Bugs Bunny cartoon when he goes in the forest and all these eyes start popping out of the darkness. The fog hanging in the cool air, changing colors with passing lights. The buzz of the crowd sounding like the sea.

In that, a split second, a moment of perfect absolute silence. Gratitude. Absolute calm. Peace. And the pure joy of being there.

After the first song, I threw away my playlist again and decided to improvise. And before I knew it, I was given the 5 minute mark. I searched for the CD with a track New Order’s manager and I had bonded over during our first phone conversation, one of the very best tracks of the year and about as cosmically epic an intro as I could imagine, Todd Terje’sInspector Norse“. As the track was fading into it’s twinkly epilogue and New Order walked on-stage, that incredible sound of thousands of people cheering at once overwhelmed the song and another brief amazing moment of peaceful silence as “Elegia” off “Low-Life” began.

In a state of absolute bliss, I stood backstage with my ace and drank a cold beer, smiling so hard it hurt as my favorite band played “Age of Consent,” “Isolation,” “Love Vigilantes,” “Your Silent Face,” “Bizarre Love Triangle,” “The Perfect Kiss,” “Temptation,” until their encore, which started with “Atmosphere” at which point I wept hysterically with melancholic joy at this unbelievable moment. This dream I’d never dared to dream coming true.

Row your boat gently friends, you never know where you’ll end up.

A number of people have contacted me to find out what I played, so…here goes…the PLAYLIST for that one time I opened for New Order at The Greek.

Urulu – Across The Sky

James Del Barco – Someone To Count On

Citizen – Room Service

Simian Mobile Disco – Interference

Shit Robot – Tuff Enuff (Michael Mayer Remix)

Todd Terje – Inspector Norse

— Mario Cotto