Sunday, February 14, 2010


This is a short story that I wrote...I haven't written for fun in a long, long time, but out of the blue I was inspired to...I guess because this was such a strong, intense experience...and I had no idea that I was going to have it! I didn't know about the band or the concert until that day and decided to go at the last minute. That's what I love most about New York: the spontaneous, unexpected pleasures that you stumble upon every once in a while. Also, I feel really lucky to have seen them in such an intimate venue, because they are kind of blowing up now (they were on Jimmy Fallon's late night show a few nights later).

Your friends left without you while you dutifully waited for your roommate to finish using their bathroom. You sprint-walk the five blocks, pray that the X marks on your hand get you in for free and holy shit they do! Hurry up and wait. In the nervous twenty minutes before the band takes the stage, the anxious concert-goers shift their weight; their hungry, wolf-like eyes betraying their casual affects. You search for the rest of your party but no luck. But then you remember those beers you smuggled in, pop one open and enjoy the silvery sensation of it slipping down your parched throat. The tension grows as the sound check nears completion. Is this the right band? You’ve never heard or seen them before. All of a sudden, the music begins, and there is no doubt in your mind that this is what you came here for. Everyone in the pyramid-shaped room instantly becomes part of the same organism. The scent of sweat and cigarettes and pot, the sensation of all the bodies pushing up against yours, the haze that fills the air and clouds your vision, the vibrations from the speakers all seem to be conducting the same electricity. The energy created by the band flows into the crowd and is returned back to them tenfold. This is not normal energy that gets diluted with recycling. Filtering through the crowd it only picks up even more sparks, snowballing with the ecstatic hunger and elation of the audience. The dancers on top of the speakers appear to be moving faster than humanly possible and faster than you can even perceive them, and you perceive their motion the way old silent films are played back on new-fangled players: strange and robotically jerky and with a frenetic energy. Their paths of motion leave trails in the air like flesh-colored comet tails. You realize those dancers are actually priestesses that cue the whole room as to how to move to each song, like a priest leading Mass. During the first few notes, they move slowly, processing but not anticipating – they are completely free and in the moment, like cats ready to pounce. Then they get the flow and THEY’RE OFF!, stirring up the crowd like a big cauldron and moving in that crazy, holy stop-motion way. You have to get closer to the source, so you move forward a bit and suddenly you are swept up in the crowd. You become a tentacle of the sea anemone, subject to the whims of the tide. You are simultaneously cradled and on the verge of falling over and getting trampled, although somehow you are always saved at the last moment by some kind soul next to you. The waves finally transport you, like Venus on her half shell, to the shore. You ditch your coat and bag, plopping them on the edge of the stage. As waves break behind you, you are forced against the edge of the stage and feel that your thighs might snap in half. You have to grip the band’s equipment to keep afloat, and the lovely keyboardist looks a bit concerned, but you know all will be well as long as they keep feeding you that boogie rhythm. You can’t keep your eyes off that miraculously sweat-free keyboardist, who looks like she just stepped out of Robert Palmer’s “Addicted to Love” video, only smaller and cuter. She notices your wide-eyed admiration, returns your gaze with a gracious smile and at one point offers you the microphone to sing along. The constantly shifting (but always good-looking and good-natured) cast of characters around you drenches your back with sweat, cops a feel of your butt, shouts along to the lyrics, and assures you that this is Neon Indian. The set lasts through two encores, and eventually you end up dancing on top of the speakers with the priestesses, overlooking the crowd. Your friends have split, you lost your roommate, and you are alone, suspended in the air above the crowd for a moment. Then the third encore starts, and you are swept back into the fold.

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