ID Check: The Best Thing Ever

Men’s-room rockers
By CAMILLE DODERO  |  May 10, 2006

It’s 11:15 pm on Monday night when Alex Billig, 22, guitarist for acoustic trio The Best Thing Ever, enters the fancy men’s bathroom at the Top of the Hub lounge, the Prudential Tower’s 52nd-floor candlelit upscale-bar area perched high above Copley Square. The band’s video-camera-packing friend has already staked out one of the two stalls, with vocalist Noah Britton, 23, following close behind him. Three minutes later, cellist Jen Page, 22, sneaks into the men’s room. (Paranoid that big instruments will attract attention, Billig only brought his Irish whistle, and Page plans to play percussion by banging on trash cans.) Minutes later, from the hallway, you can hear the faint rumble and ostinato thump of a certain late-’70s rallying cry: Britton’s Stephin Merritt–like deep-baritone chanting We will, we will, rock you ...

The anthem is interrupted abruptly. It’s not an irate employee’s fault, but nature’s: two older strangers are waiting impatiently for the stalls. So the threesome stops earlier than it would have liked. “I felt bad making people wait to take a shit,” Britton later says with a sigh.

The Top of the Hub was the eighth date on The Best Thing Ever’s 12-day early-May swan song, “The Bathroom Tour.” In the past week, the threesome has bashed out hardcore songs in the pay toilet outside the Boston Public Library, whipped out “Wipe Out” in a Revere Beach shore-side restroom (where a bare-chested local yelled at Page for being in the men’s room and threatened to call the cops), and completed a full-length set for friends in Billig’s Allston-apartment bathroom (during which Billig showered and, Britton says, “You could totally see through the [shower] door, so everyone saw him naked”). But so far, probably the most amusing restroom run took place last Saturday night, when The Best Thing Ever roamed around with the intention of ambushing the lavatories of “every party in Allston.” In more than three hours, they played roughly 15 bathrooms (in one, they covered Notorious B.I.G.’s “Big Poppa” while a drunk girl quietly puked in the corner), and they got turned away by only one angry host.

“I’m sort of OCD, actually, so this is really helping me conquer my fears,” says Page. “I would be one of those people who would take a paper towel and open the door of the bathroom. And now I’m like, I don’t know, drinking toilet water.”

The Best Thing Ever is a musical sideline for all three members. Page not only belongs to a string quartet, but she also auditioned for American Idol in 2004 as a face-painted mime who mouthed the words to Aerosmith’s “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” and ended up on the Best and Worst of American Idol Seasons 1–4 DVD. Britton performs under his own name, manages a small label called H.I.G. Records, and tours with his ex-girlfriend as the duo Hip Hip Hooray. And Billig’s solo project, Never Heard of Zeppelin, is him screaming over a Casio.

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