There are shows that one means to have happen. Then there are shows that accidentally happen, shows of such spectacular failure, such instantaneous bad decision-making that they transcend what you think you are working very hard to make and manage to be the shows you talk about later.
Let’s first talk about what Cocaine Dumbledore meant to have happen.
Cocaine Dumbledore is an iconic band that features Neal Medlyn and Gillian Walsh performing Pearl Jam’s “Jeremy.” The band can alternately be described as a Pearl Jam “Jeremy” cover band, as an anti-bullying initiative that sings Pearl Jam’s “Jeremy,” as an emotional and expressive singing project by Neal Medlyn and Gillian Walsh inspired by Pearl Jam’s “Jeremy,” or simply as the two greatest performers of all time singing everyone’s favorite song very sincerely in a variety of locations and circumstances.
Now let’s discuss the performance at hand, the one worth remembering.
Cocaine Dumbledore’s second performance was at Beauty Bar in Chicago. It was supposed to be a Champagne Jerry show. But the sound didn’t work and they had to re-start several times. After a few glitches, Neal started climbing on furniture throughout the room even though the microphone cord wasn’t long enough and it started hitting people and knocking things over. Chaos continued to grow. Neal was on a tiny bit of concrete in the corner of the bar with five other people, a laptop, a small table, and a big bottle of champagne. At some unknown point, Cocaine Dumbledore materialized into the situation to make the evening an iconic event.
Gillian (covered in fake blood and wearing a jacket that read “FUCK” on the back) grabbed the microphone and started to sing “Jeremy” a capella and got a resistant audience sing-along going. The crowd looked at them both with horror and disgust but many of them sang anyway.
At some point Gillian was in the splits—no one remembers when or why that happened. At that point, Neal, perhaps tired of climbing on audience seating and tables, tried to climb a speaker like a tree. He then fell over in a sudden crash, taking the speaker down on top of him, giving himself a bone bruise. People screamed. The audience started to freak out and run away from the front of the stage. Gillian, laughing, and having mostly finished singing “Jeremy,” poured champagne over Neal’s head.
This effectively ended the performance.