At six o'clock The Witch begins calling. Frantic. She has a ticket. Wants a ride. A tent. A guide. More than I'll ever know.
But I'm not through hiding from the heat. Trying not to let it get me. Not like the Arts Editor, who'd pass out at ten. After getting kicked out of the pool I spent the day air conditioned.
I told The Witch I'd pick her up once it was dark. Continued calls go unanswered. Find The Boyfriend on the porch his foot in a cast. Sorry sucker. But one mustn't worry—I could give a fuck. Just don't make me late.
The air is still and thick on the 205. Keep the windows up. Jagged apprehension like a frequent flyer waiting to de-board. Be there soon. Don't think about it. Breathe.
Bump through the parking lot to lug the bags and bottles up a hill. Sweating like dogs. Where the fuck is the tent? It was Thursday and light out when I left it. And then too I was in a hurry. Pay no mind. We leave our things and tumble back down. I put my head under a faucet.
But it's the music that really soothes me. Ahh. Sink in. Sit down. Breathe.
THEESatisfaction are mighty fine. A bop and a breeze. Some in the crowd look confused. Goddamn frumpy Dr. Dog fans no doubt. Nice to hear hip hop at The Farm, though. These girls share that lilting croon like the birth of a new cool.
Wait in vain for the sleeping Editors. The Witch watches Dr. Dog and I turn a blind eye. Lukewarm bathwater if ever there were. Nosh instead. Little of this, little of that. Bags from the backpack and sips from the tin cup.
To The Barn. White Denim spring to life along with the drugs. Each high-octane. Now the band seems as if those training regiments once used for the Major League preparation seeped into band practice. Either way they're humming. The Witch is especially twisted, twirling along in orgiastic joy.
When The Barn becomes exponential the laws of thermodynamics change. Energy is not lost. Exertion just turns in to more fuel.
Elated for my favorite tune, "Don't Look That Way At It," woven into some whiplash medley. Dig the refresh.
Upon the final note I drag The Witch out of there. Kicking and screaming. I came for Cass McCombs. She wouldn't feel it and many didn't. Which is fine. She did me the favor of running in the hills for the duration. Even the bored were part of it. In their own way. But...
This is one just for me.
Towards the front of the stage I plop down next to a group of teenagers on acid. The back lights are oppressive. I lay back in the dirt and cover my eyes. I don't open them 'till the end.
And I go to Mars.
Moments after it's all said and done, dutifully The Witch yanks me back. But I need a moment to shake it off. To open my eyes. Acclimatize. Come back down. Or at least somewhere close.
She wants to go back to The Barn but I wont. Swollen from the main course. To the tent then. But it takes time. Wandering, poking at this. Peering at that. So much to see. Give the ears their rest.
Slices of salami. Bags in the backpack. Red wine in the tin cup. Exhale.
But notice something growing. A glow in the distance. Like moths to the flame. Tip-toeing, tramping towards the sound. Twenty-some circled around a pile of lanterns. Guitars and banjos, mandolins, cellos and bottles of whiskey in their hands. Singers and shakers. Smiles and spit-caked lips. Wide-eyes, furtive squints and pancaked pupils. All the while people come and go. A few in, a few out. Pleasantries exchanged along with sips and puffs. Couples cling together at the hips and little groups chatter.
In the middle of the circle, once the cheers die down, everyone becomes once again bashful. Singing, playing, humming, together, only moments before they were a sum of their great parts.
For it to be born again on must, on his or her own, maybe with partner, must find a spark. Some do it with easy grace. Some with force. Some with will and others with fears on high. But eventually they almost all seem to find it. And it grows. Exponential.
I hum and sing along for awhile. Wishing I had more than my voice.
I find a chair and so does The Witch. A woman stumbles and falls into a hole and she laughs. A man hops up and finds a seat in a dead tree. Drinks are shared. More songs. Jokes. And the awkward pauses in-between.
The Cellist decides it's time to pack up and finds his case filled with leaves and dirt. Ain't a thing, he insists. On the way out to the trail he crosses paths with a pair of mandolin players.
"Where you headed?" one asks.
"I'm gonna turn in," The Cellist says.
"Not gonna make it 'till the sun comes up?"
"Not this year."
I'm not far behind. I hand the wine with The Witch and wander back to camp.
Get the best of the Mercury each week in your inbox!