White wine radio and an icy bottle of Marvin Gaye have me in my feels tonight. Not really sure what way is up at this point in the evening, but I've always been a fan of the opposite aesthetic so I'm rolling with it. Finding myself in that kind of adventurous drunken state, I make for the door, knowing something better lies beyond it. But first, I slide on some favorite pieces to disguise the fact that I've spent this lonely Wednesday night with only the accompaniment of the grapevine two ways. A long, military-inspired black hoodcoat, a high-cuffed pair of denim noir, and the snakeskin loafers with no-shows of course.
I rip bottle number two from the freezer, back pocket it, and slip out the front door with nothing particular in mind. Many a night like this one have resulted in a story worth telling, but many more have resulted in a story forgotten or simply no story at all. Obviously, the intention is always the former, but the worst-case scenario is a late-night walk - a necessary piece to an introspective evening often overlooked.
Though the schedule has been hectic lately, the wine has been flowing, and I'm not entirely sure what city this is, I know damn well it's not New Orleans or Vegas, so I'm careful with the bottle. I take a sip here and there, but for the most part, it stays cloaked under layers of fabric.
I have a tendency, perhaps a mental condition, or maybe just the consequences of being a writer, to talk to myself more regularly than most. The habit, like any us humans wish to hide, is heavily exaggerated under the influence, and wine makes my circles of self-conversation more emotionally-reaching.
Stumbling and stuttering down alleys and lanes, I'm easily mistaken for one of the city's grand population of homeless and transient. But like as I may, I can't take credit for the level of spiritual enlightenment that years of practice have granted their speech.
Instead, my mind draws up conversation, as it often does, about music. Always a fan and a critic, I myself have never had the talent or patience, and therefore will never have the understanding that comes with the title of artist. Instead, I speak from the outside. I speak of movements stirring in the underground, artists underrated and over, sounds I like, sounds I don't, and whether or not Kid Cudi should be labeled a rapper. The auditory form of my thoughts enables me discussion and sometimes even argument that widen my thought process and pinpoint my final opinions.
Eventually, I tire of myself, and find a nice park bench from which to polish the rest of my wine, knowing that it will soon enough mute my conversive state of mind.
Halfway through, I take notice of my view. The bench, as all good benches do, lies under a tree on top of a hill, and outwards from the hill extends a view of the mysterious city. At night, the city is not of the extraordinary kind seen from above in calendars or on Instagram. Instead it is a sloppy mess of bright interior squiggles expanding outwards towards dimmer and straighter lines. A particularly bright set of lights in that bright, squiggly bit marks what must be some sort of venue.
I check my watch.
With my destination marked upon my drunken mental map, I make for my descent - the period of time darker and more drunk than the rest of the night passes without a conscious thought. I'm instantly back in the throes of civilization, and my little dip into nature seems to have brought me to a less noticeable point of inebriation.
I find my way in minutes to the main strip, and from there another minute to the venue. I am well-past doors opening but hopefully well within the range of ticket availability.
I'm in luck.
Still selling. Eight dollars. Which is comforting because the drink inside will be at least 11.
I head in to find the concert between acts, and by the time of night and the energy of the crowd, the headliner is up next. I'm not one of those fans to generally show up late on purpose to miss the openers; in fact, often times I'm there in spite of the headliners, but in a spur of the moment circumstance such as this, the main act is probably the safest of bets.
In that moment, I realize I never even looked to see who's playing. Time for some investigative work. I look around the audience.
Lots of men with long hair. Lots of women with buzzes. An inorganic explosion of vibrant colors and flamboyant material choices. A noticeably wide dilation of the pupils.
This is an electronic show and I'm not dressed the part.
It's not just the bold fashion and the rampant drug use that points to electronica either - those are staples of any show on earth - perhaps just more present at modern times during a DJ set and light show. But there's also a strong sense of community and togetherness and a stream of calm and friendly energetic vibes non-correlative with underground hip-hop or metal shows that would also call home to a venue this size. People are in good spirits and everywhere people are sharing.
Tonight's earlier indulgence of wine has me feeling loopy enough, so I politely turn down the continuous stream of generous community members offering up unlabeled party favors to all they see.
A stroke of a bass quiets the audience and a subsequent strike of light ignites it. Somewhere behind the blur of hands, smoke, flashing lights, and girlfriends seated on shoulders, I can make out the figure of a lone silhouette behind an impossibly acute collection of equipment.
The original explosiveness of the introduction had me worried I was in store for the kind of womp-fest that I'm entirely unprepared for, but then I see something on stage next to the synthesizer.
A snare drum.
Unwinding the blurry library of concert memories in my mind, I search for the source of the déja vu. Right as it hits me, a strange yet friendly face alit with a swatch of greens, blues, and purples, bourgeons on stage. An incalculable number of concerts has passed since I last saw that face, but one doesn't forget a face like this - the only face the artist and his masses of loyal fans know - the face of Slow Magic.
As he begins to pound away at his synth and tap away at his control board, the audience is built towards the exact moment prior to childlike chaos which he seeks, and once the beat is stabilized and dialed into his controller, he is ready to unleash the dreamy anti-world of his performance's full force. He steps away from the digital, turns towards the analogue, and delivers the punishing first few blows to the sturdy drum. The crowd, and I a part of it - a collection of misfits and loners stumbling our way through wine bottles and night hikes - have all arrived here together in the otherworldly company of our imaginary friend, Slow Magic.