Caught by what would have been a pleasant breeze had it been a summer night, my overcoat is rustled out of position as I cross the street. But it’s December and I’m not in the mood. Somewhat annoyed, I flap the lengthy, woolen beast back into place.
It’s cold as a bitch.
“Nothing a little cocktail can’t solve,” I reassure myself. I skip onto the curb to avoid a puddle knowing damn well I can’t remove a stain from the immaculate taupe Chelsea boots adorning my feet. I love the simplicity and versatility of these things, but I should have worn something more weatherized.
I wasn’t about to show up underdressed tonight. As always, the finely brushed suede is exposed from toe to high ankle. Pants are pinrolled and neatly darted above the boot’s collar.
I realize it’s been almost two blocks. I’m near the spot and I’ve got some time to kill.
I duck into a dimly lit bar. Textured in woodgrain and boasting a wealth of whiskeys, bourbons, and fine gins, I decide now is as good a time as any for a Tom Collins. Something about Juniper and lemon always appeals to me.
Spin the stool, shrug off the overcoat. I hail the bartender, who is busy neatly polishing the cherry bar top. The dull clink as the glass hits the wood in front of me is oddly reassuring, and probably a sign I should spend less time throwing back cocktails. I deftly but discreetly chuck the garnish. Not really my thing.
Lean back, take in the scenery. I’m definitely on the younger side of the crowd in this watering hole, but strangely I’m still very much at home. I chuckle to myself.
I always felt as though that term was thrown at me rather often, but certainly felt it was only truly applicable on rare occasion.
The cotton candy dusk sky has slowly waned to an ever-fading indigo shroud. I realize that three cocktails have come and gone, and I feel a slight guilt for the finely sliced orange bits littering my shadowed corner of the bar. Should have told the barkeep to leave them off.
I check the time. Fuck, I’m cutting it close.
I throw the coat back over my shoulders and shrug it snuggly against my neck. Back out on the street, I’m acutely aware of my lack in temperature sensitivity.
The gin’s doing it’s thing.
The din of nightly city bustle is like a familiar friend – a fitting soundtrack to the short journey ahead. Weaving between parking meters and crowded sidewalks certainly isn’t my favorite, but something about the destination has me floating effortlessly past slowly moving strangers.
Arriving at the venue, I round the corner, show my ID and flash my ticket. The eternal struggle of a youthful face. I’ll be carded until I’m grey.
Up the stairs, and suddenly the crowded hallway parts into the open expanse of a ballroom.
Full-length windows and high ceilings give the room a larger-than-life feel, but I’m struck by the intimacy of the setting. The walls are draped in maroon textile, interrupted by strange and somewhat surreal artistic works that I imagine could only be the brainchild of a person plagued by insanity, nightmares, and brief spurts of creative nirvana.
There are some horseshoe shaped booths furnished in buttoned leather ringing the room, but for the most part they look taken. I curse my apathy and that last drink.
The far end of the venue is outfitted with a modest bar. Plenty of liquor, and though I’d like to keep riding the wave I’m on, I opt for a beer. Something light and easy to hold in case I get bumped while I sway to the music.
The crowd stands around a slightly elevated platform, cornered near the outlandishly tall windows. I wade through the dispersed crowd to get a better view. Sorry in advance for the people who have to look at the back of my head. Height plus a twisting mop – people behind me will have to cock their heads to the side.
The lights are dim, and a noticeably red hue persists through the somewhat foggy interior. Someone’s been burning herbs of the medicinal variety. Sweet but pungent, though not unpleasant.
A typical band is set up, albeit noticeably to the rear of the stage. A single microphone stands at the forefront. As I take this in, a group of 3 musicians emerge from behind the curtain, all dressed in cream and wearing turtlenecks.
Hell yes. This is what I’ve been waiting for.
The drummer sits, the bassist and guitar player brandish their instruments. The keyboardist strikes a key, and a melodic sound like a church organ fills the room. I feel like pinching myself to make sure I haven’t time warped back to 1960’s Detroit. The Motown vibes are strong.
A lone figure materializes and approaches the mic.
The unmistakable dreadlocks are apparent. Daniel Caesar is sporting his typical disheveled look: oversized slacks and classic denim jacket.
“This is for the lovers,” Caesar says, as he breaks into melodic song. The rhythmic tones of Get You, one of his most popular tracks, are unmistakable.
It’s like the entire throng of Caesar’s fans are a hivemind – swaying in tune to the music crashing over them like waves under a pier.
Caesar’s angelic voice and romantic lyricism make me wish I would have spent some time getting to know the rather tantalizing young woman next to me at my first stop. But the night is young, and there’s plenty of music ahead.