The night was nearly over by the time she joined the band on stage, but something opened up within me as Tristen encouraged the audience's participation. With a gentle bob to her knees she stared into the crowd and crooned, "I don't believe you, I don't believe you." It's just a song, but it's hardly rare for music to embody something greater. Gratitude for being there, regret, maybe, and for the whole ride home frustration with myself that I hadn't been writing lyrics of my own for the past ten years. Maybe regret that I hadn't treated myself better, too. Where did this decade go?
Two or three songs in Paul tapped my elbow, and I turned around to be met with his eyes, which said everything. William is a genius. And to be part of what took place on stage tonight is to be in the presence something memorable. Yet I was continually back and forth between the present and the past, absorbed in the moment and awash with memories. Still in college I remember the exact table I was at in my school's library, sending predictable questions by email to one singer's publicist who forwarded them to her. When I published the interview using her middle name I was reprimanded and had to quickly edit it out. I don't remember what I thought it would add other than I saw it on Wikipedia and felt like it made the blog post seem more legitimate, so I rolled with it. Ten or eleven questions for another singer via email when I first moved to town. Herself a recent transplant, I thought deep-diving into facts about her and her music might seem endearing... Being a self-absorbed drunkard at the time, I thought maybe she would follow up the interview with a request to meet. I saw her waiting tables at The Stone Fox a couple years later. I've always wanted to tell her how beautiful I think she is, but that's an inappropriate thing for a stranger to tell someone, let alone someone who isn't single. A few questions for him via another email. I didn't know his music then, he was just someone who crossed my path via a solicitation for press from a record label. She—another of tonight's performers—I can recall tweeting with. About what? The Sandlot. Damn near a decade ago, and I remember that for some reason. I had dinner with her mom once, as part of a larger group I got wrapped into after a performance for Swedish TV at the Bluebird. My place within the party was uncertain—if anything I was probably just there to help make it appear as though another of the performers had people working for her even though we were paying our own way. This city's streets are paved in the allure of a payoff. And him, I feel guilt every time I see him because I publicly pirated a couple songs from his label eight or nine years ago. He politely asked me to take them down from my blog, which was incredibly kind considering I had never asked for permission to post the music in the first place. All of this being held onto as if it means something, anything. Awash... As the night wore on, however, there was relief. I closed my eyes to just listen. I never realized how just jealous I've been. How I've wanted to be a part of all this, but never allowed myself to feel like I was. Or that I could be. Drinking played its role, but so did blatant self-deception. "IIIII don't believe you."
As the show ended, the increasingly faint scent of incense wafted through the air. Earlier, someone said Alison Mosshart was standing next to us but I only ever caught the back of her head. I was there, too. For a change it felt like that was actually true.