“Wanna come see my band on Thursday?”
Sure, I say. Because I legitimately want to support, but also because I can’t think of a valid story for why I can’t. So I make my way over to the dingy little club, the lobby of a once and future theater of productions both avant garde and mediocre, at 10:30 on a school night to see you and your buddies strut your stuff. You didn’t tell me there would be a cover. It’s fine — I’ll pay, and glad tell them I’m hear to see you (that was a homonym typo I don’t want to correct, because it might sell as cunning wordplay). I’m just glad I picked up cash earlier in the day.
The floor of the club is dark, the better to focus our attention on the makeshift stage. Unfortunately, the just-as-makeshift lights set up on the side and from the ceiling don’t seem to function as intended. Your wide figure stayed swathed in a deep ochre, a bordello bouncer hunched over a droning guitar. Every part of the bassist besides his knees remained in deep shadows. The singer jumped in and out of the lone bright spotlight, her tambourine’s jingles lacing it back out through the crowd.
And that crowd…they all showed up, which is nice of them. The band wrings out its songs, the ones you guys slaved over. Chords that were agonizing over chords, lyrics ripped out of the heart. How many band members walked out of the practice space, convinced they would never come back again? And here is your showcase — playing to a half-full room, fifty or sixty people, 90 percent of whom know the first name of at least one of you. None of them connecting to your craft. Half of them don’t stop their conversations to applaud, and the other half never look up from their phones, just giving a short “woo” at the end of each song.
And I lean against the back wall, firmly ensconced in the second half of that group, my one sign of respect is turning my phone down to the most dimmed setting. I half listen and focus on taking notes as your keyboard player wails on a trumpet, continuing the pointless ouroboros of creativity looping between you and me.