A truth: Authentic, random moments in live music for audiences are patently, decidedly rare. The law of diminishing returns, legendary among drug addicts in recovery, is true also for the less tragic but no less hopeless music addict. When you- if you -get to see one authentic, random moment of a band on the rise, here’s an idea: don’t question it. Don’t go to the pub nearby where deals are almost too good to be true and you find that there’s a man who watched from the corner and sketched the band- and sketched you “rocking out” even, and for god’s sake, don’t sidle over like some lonely tourist and let him or anyone else nearby pick the night apart like the chintzy bits of meat off a skimpy east-end chicken wing.
A wish: Instead of that bar talk, walk backwards, rewind the VHS video tape away from that person. For he is not your kind. Don’t be friendly, you didn’t come here to make friends, this is a VH1 reality show in the mid 2000s. Stay silent, go back to your corner of the bar that has corners for just that reason and is not meant for randomness even if you met the great band right here last time by happenstance; randomness like that only visits but does not reside in the city that you will never be at home in that is too big and too random to ever find your kind, anymore. That corner seat is express-built for your exact purpose: to sit quietly in comfortable afterglow with the one person you are lucky enough to know and trust of all those years of youth and love WHO STANDS WITH YOU who gets it in full at that show you were at minutes before you sat on this stool, what can happen when you are awake, alert and hungry. It’s wordless, just a tap on the arm or a pull of the cuff is all, a look, all deafness and ear ringing joy, back at the show as you two drank more than you could afford, deliriously, deliciously like only the poor can, sharing one wallet as only best friends and best couples can do, amiably, tonight, a night’s worth of drinks in a half an hour, $100 gone as if you were in Vegas on vacation because you are in Vegas on vacation. You saved up, you counted down and you planned your outfit.
A set of facts: The show is not a happy blur, rather a precise and gorgeous experience but might as well be a blur three hours later because there is nothing to say, nothing to write, “writing about music is like dancing about architecture” it’s true, it’s true, this phrase that is really unattributed yet true rings in your head as comforting reminder that you can’t write anymore and don’t need to. No one would believe in that bar you just left where you bounced the glass and it broke and spilled in your happiness that you are not even drunk, or were for minutes only; but in truth you were actually just happy for one fucking hour and your happy looks like other people’s messy drunkenness. Yet, there are in this, and all worthy cities, right this minute, down the bar, 23 year olds who’ve traveled more miles than their parents ever will, for music and for moments like a Nothing show in 2014, 2015, and 2016. These same people can discuss Whirr, Father John Misty, and The Hip in full, with gravity, empathy and sense, and in detail the fan-known fact of Robert Smith’s feelings about a disappointing Bowie show in the early 70s that fueled his entire life’s work and mission, and was the reason why The Cure is consistently never any slouch in any tour in any city in the world for 30 years running- ask anyone (who has been there) and that’s a Bowie story that is not widely told these days. These good people are quite simply the future. They have bought the T-shirt, the vinyl and the Nothing hat, and they wear it. And so we talk, easily. And just yonder, waiting like a spider, is a man, sketching us, the band, the younger fans, me, perceptively, but not feeling, not breaking through, and wanting to know why he can’t, and he’s not yet 40. He was there too, he says. And within WiFi (?) signal distance, was the band that you don’t need to pin and mount like a butterfly this time, or even have the lights up to shoot, as the photographers who didn’t get their scalps scuttled off in frustration, and it was just perfect. At the end of the day, you can only be a music fan or a journalist, and I know what I am. Fans tonight and all those rare nights never forget the gig that cost them less than a night at some mediocre movie and anyone who doesn’t get that isn’t worth my time or my dime anymore.
I’m not sharing the set list, you had to be there. It’s mine. I can tell you that a bottle of wine (or Jamesons?) was passed from guitarist down to fan like it was a fam picnic, and a track jacket was coveted, and maybe given to that musician, freely, and someone was missing, and missed up there, but the show went on spectacularly, messy sometimes, but then veering gorgeously in the nick of time into muscle memory and fearlessness that comes in adrenaline rushes on waves of electricity (and now this is corny) and I didn’t watch half of it but shut my eyes instead. And even as I break this and every rule I set,I still can’t shut up, bad habit, the truth remains: there are no words. But facts proved that our everyday nihilism is every once in a while something else – deep and unafraid romanticism turned on itself, happy and unashamed for one hour only and in those minutes deserves whatever messy love we can afford to throw at it.