Five kids, fighting boredom in a parking lot, sit on the trunk of a Chevy across Rte. 1 from Fort Belvoir on a night with an aftertaste of rain.
A long-haired teen-age youth embraces a longer-haired teen-age girl. Another youth throws smoke rings with a rubber jaw, while still another slugs Budweiser. A second girl, head angled, runs a comb through her hair.
"I got $4."
"How much to get in?"
"They carding people?"
"Don't you still have your brother's fake ID?"
"What you worried about? The organ player ain't but 17 himself."
Silence a while, then the kid who owns the Chevy slides off the trunk. The other four slide off, and they head in a pack, slow and deliberately cool, toward the door of Thomas' Restaurant, Oriental Food/Live Entertainment. Inside, five other kids are on stage, members of a band known as New Breed. Coming out of Woodbridge, this is their first paying job. They will gross about $100.
Suburban honkytonk. "Just goin' out, Ma." Fire up the Chevy, make the chrome exhaust pipes wail, lay some rubber on the driveway. Four stops, pick up the friends and pile them in, blast the four-channel sound, giggle and pass the Bud. Look for something to do.
At Thomas' door three bucks buys a high-watt, rock 'n' roll buzz, compliments of five other suburban guys, fellows looking not just for something to do, but yearning for something to be.
Fame on their minds, Capital Centre, Madison Square Garden. Five baby rock musicians straight from four practices a week in the wood-paneled basement of the drummer's parents.
Pay the drummer's sister at the door. She's the band manager, wearing black Spandex pants with a brass zipper that runs fore to aft, fishnet stockings and stiletto heels. Then go in. Electric bass pounding through the chest, electric guitar bouncing on the eardrums. A semiclean, dimly lighted place with a wall painted with sparkles, a pool table in the corner ("NO GAMBLIN"), brew on tap behind the bar, stale beer smell in the air, rows of metal ashtrays on rows of red-clothed tables.
Mostly GIs in civvies on the stackable chairs. They hoot rebel yells, play imaginary drums in the air, scream attempted seductions over the hot swirl of static and feedback. Wink at the oriental waitresses with short skirts bringing pitchers of beer. Wink at girls with lots of lipstick who are bopping in their seats and throwing fists in the air to the music.
"It's somewhere to go where you know some people, where you can hear some tunes," says Al Lansdown, the Chevy owner, who quit school and is now looking for work as a carpenter. "It ain't the greatest, but it's cheap."
Says New Breed bass player James Moore, "All the greats started this way."
They had to start somewhere. Last year, before the band had a name, they played Paul Haskin's graduation party and Jeff Marlow's birthday party at the Lorton fire hall. There was a talent show at a bar on Rte. 1, a party at a recreation center in Woodbridge, and then the big breakola: a win at the Chesapeake District Junior Civitans Club Battle of the Bands for Muscular Dystrophy in Emporia, Va.
Now this, which isn't a small step for a basement band made up of two high schoolers, two junior collegians, and a United Parcel Service preload supervisor.
Playing Journey and Rush and Jimi Hendrix and the Eagles and Pure Prairie League, rocking beneath the lights that Troy Gore's mother bought for the band. Singer Steve Sanders, 19, wrapped in a kimono-type shirt, tapping a white-bucked foot, straining his cords. Guitarist Mike Bella, 18, imitating his idol, Jimi Hendrix (who died of a drug overdose when Bella was 4) picking behind his back and behind his head and with his teeth, jumping into the audience, shaking his hips at his girlfriend in the front row.
Organist Jim Long, 17, unmoving behind dual keyboards. Bassist Moore, 22, wearing white leather jeans and no shirt, playing by his theory that "bass is more of a basic sexual need." Drummer Troy Gore, 18, wearing a red shirt with metal rivets at the shoulder, sitting behind a fortress of drums and cymbals, throwing stick punches at the drums and sweat into the audience.
The night wears on, the music loud and constant until the ears give up and the sound seems filtered through a pillow, or maybe a long rubber hose. A waitress trades the spent pitcher of beer in front of Al Lansdown for a full one. Surrounded by friends who told their parents they are at the movies, Lansdown's head droops a bit after a full night.
"Let's just finish this pitcher and hit the road," he screams over the music.
"I said let's finish this pitcher and get outta here."
"Where are we going?"
"Where you want to go?"
"I don't know."