I return to the venue. Elation returns. It overtakes every cell in my body. The mellow surrenders to energetic. San Antonio languid concedes to Austin fervid.
This is music.
Music has no geography, no boundaries. Hills, mountains, streams, and other concrete conventions of the three dimensional world are strangers there. It is a universe of its own. It has its own laws, dimension-defying features. It is not one universe, but multitudes. Each musician is a universe. Count yourself lucky if you are granted entry to one…...
I’m here to see the two greatest musical acts on the planet. They are the most spectacular universes in the pop firmament.
###Perhaps I should say “five universes”.
###The band has four members.
How can I not descend into madness; ascend into hysteria?
It’s a state of hyper-excitement. My in-your-face-Texas-aggressive-friendliness shoots past the needle’s breaking point. Ear-splitting alarms sound off the entire expanse of the Lone Star State. I am in a Lone Star State of Delirium.
Of course, it is rare I am not agitated in extremis when my favorite travelling musicians stumble into my little corner of the the great Southwest, suit and guitar cases in hand; amps, cables, bodies - most of them quite alive and somewhat healthy, mind you; merchandise, and various gear pouring out of a malodorous van. I’m in such an over-amped emotional tizzy, most Texans would flee my vicinity in fear or prepare to stand their ground, raised fists and/or pistols aimed my way. The more “delicate” sensibilities endemic to the left coast would surely be mortified.
And so they are.
I terrify the WGSPA with a shout across the room as she appears from backstage and scrambles down the steps at stage left and across the concrete floor toward the back of the room and the oasis known as the bar. Poor lady. She’s just driven 553 miles in a blazing Chihuahuan sun in one of those gear, merch, and body-stuffed vans. In the prior week, she’s endured approximately 2,000 miles in that van as it made it’s way from Seattle down the West Coast to Los Angeles before shooting east across the Mojave and Sonoran and yet another desert before falling into the welcoming arms of the metropolis affectionately known by many Nortenos as El Chuco or Chucotown, the city that calmly sits across the Rio Grande from what was until recently the murder capitol of the world.
With over 2,500 miles of road behind her, all she wants is to get to the bar unaccosted and get fortified for yet another set in an endless string of sets on an endless road in a band van among thousands of other band vans driving to endless sets on endless roads inching their way to the hallowed city of Austin and its South by Southwest cattle call.
Meat on the hoof.
The last thing she needs is the Spanish Inquisition or some madman running in her direction waving and trembling as if he were a teeny bopper who’d just seen the Beatles circa 1964. She’s been through enough. She is gracious enough to greet me and grant permission to photograph her set. I think I would have punched me in the face. road-worn shoes or not.
She says she is going on in 5 minutes.
She disappears backstage for an eternity. When she appears onstage, it’s actually been less than 5 minutes. That’s how anxious and beside myself I am.
Can’t wait. Can’t wait..
The crowd scrambles in from the grillfest. There are now approximately 30 people in front of the stage.
“Wow. You just appeared,” the WGSPA exclaims to the crowd with a huge smile on her face.
The rock commences. It’s a joyful noise, the beautiful crash of punk rock carried from Egypt to the promise land. I feel the Red Sea part. My mind runs for the safety beyond.
Later that evening, I manage to frighten the hell out the WGB’s lead guitarist. I stopped her after she descended those stage left stairs. She hadn’t made more than four steps on the concrete floor before I pounced in front of her, introduced myself, and shouted, “You’re a fucking great guitarist!” over the din of the band playing.
She quickly blurted, “Thanks!” and ran like hell for the bar.
the endless road,
the endless stages,
the endless soundchecks,
the endless sets,
Same songs over and over,
The endless bad food, junk food, truck stop sandwiches,
Occasional food poisoning,
The endless floors..
The droves of overzealous fans,
The Leering assholes,
The Cool kids,
The sexist fuckwads,
The fellow Musicians,
She moves on...
...slouching toward Lat 30,
slouching toward Austin,
Grasping the Violet Crown,
Running for the void,
hoping to catch that purple ray of sunshine,
And a strong limb on the way down.