JUST AS TRASH TALK GOES ON STAGE at the Purple Turtle, a generally crummy rock club in London, lead singer Lee Spielman stands underneath a crushing ﬂourescent light and pours most of a bottle of water over his head. It looks like a religious rite, a split end baptism, until Spielman says he does it so he doesn’t vomit. “You ever swallow a mouthful of dry hair?” he says. “It’s an automatic puke.” He sits right off stage, bouncing his knee and peeks from behind the curtain. “How’s it look?” The band—drummer Sam Bosson, guitarist Garrett Stevenson and bassist Spencer Pollard—plays the slow, heavy “Hash Wednesday,” a song about taking peyote as sacrament, without him. As it winds down, Spielman bounds on stage and everyone freaks out.
Less than ten minutes later, some kid gets hit in the head with a beer bottle. He tells security and the aggressor gets dragged out. In between songs, Spielman asks who snitched. Trash Talk plays another song at warp speed. Someone throws a pile of napkins in the air like confetti. Someone else launches off the stage, ﬂying horizontally into several faces. Spielman climbs on the bar, ﬂips off that into the crowd. He climbs onto the balcony with the makeshift stripper pole, ﬂips off that into the crowd. Stevenson plays guitar atop a ten-foot totem of wobbly speakers. Spielman asks the horseshoed crowd to come in closer. They do, then immediately retreat when he swings the microphone like a lasso. A kid with a pentagram on his shirt stalks the space in front of the stage, punching the air with a smile. Bosson plays with broken sticks, the songs too fast to grab fresh ones. In the corner, a Trash Talk newbie stands in shock at the site of lots of young men hurting each other for fun. When the set is suddenly done, Spielman thanks the crowd, tells them there’s merch for sale in the back and drops the microphone flat from chest high.
Backstage, Spielman does yoga-like stretches and says he needs weed. Bosson ﬁnds some in a white plastic bag and goes to smoke it accompanied by some prep with a tiny mustache. Outside, a superhumanly drunk vagrant pounds a beer he ﬁnds in his inside coat pocket, then spits it all up in the gutter. A girl whom at least one member of the band has slept with lurks showing much cleavage. A random dude details how to ﬁnd naked pictures of her on the internet. Pollard is nowhere to be found because he is, as his band mates say, probably back in the club looking for the woman with the oldest face. She’s certainly not outside leaning against Trash Talk’s enormous white van wearing red lipstick and cutoffs. Those girls are 18. Stevenson is changing in a makeshift dressing room down the street in some fenced-in pen. He doesn’t wear a shirt when he plays. “I gave up on tees,” he says. “Fuck it. I’m fat. I’m over it. It’s not like I’m getting hoes from this shit.” He rejoins the fray, drying his crotch with a leopard print towel.