Shannon’s Super Sexy Blog. Music. Travel. Randomness. And a Lot of Wine.

Fake Smoke and the Mirrorball

It is the middle of May, and I feel like I have hardly been at home this year. In fact, I haven’t really been home, but instead, on the road.

I used to really love the road. It didn’t matter whether for work or pleasure – I just loved it. All the new places, new experiences, even if they were kind of boring… but I don’t really love this any more. I feel a sort of melancholy when I am not in Ocean Beach, not at home. Unless I am in, like, Paris or something.

I spent this week in Las Vegas, the third time I have been there this year. I use to love Vegas. I mean, I LOVED it there. I loved the desert heat and the endless nights and the bizarre unreality of it all. I love drinking and gambling – I did then and I still do. But I don’t like Vegas too much anymore. I’m an old timer who can’t handle change, I guess.

Paying $100 for a wine that should cost $50 just pisses me off. Even if it is not my money. Someone has got to pay for all that construction, I guess.

The sun goes down while I sit in my high-rise room, and it is beautiful. That desert sunset kills me every time. But then it is 4:00 A.M. and I am playing blackjack where country music is playing really loudly. I hate the music but I am winning. The guy next to me is singing, but he is a happy sort and there are high-fives whenever either of us gets a blackjack. The couple next from me is from L.A. She wears a lot of makeup and we whoo hoo loudly, obnoxiously, a few times, mocking the table next to us. I can’t stop humming Jeff Tweedy’s lyric from “A Shot in the Arm”

“What you once were isn’t what you want to be anymore.”

It suddenly occurs to me, that I am not really enjoying this. What am I doing here, anyway? It’s freeking 4:30 A.M. All the things I once loved, I don’t love now. I am in a spiritual quandary. Everything seems empty, and has for some time.

The next day, way too early, tired and lonely and sick from too many hotel rooms and too many rich meals, I drive to Hollywood, because I want to go to see Elbow, one of my favorite bands. That drive, while quite beautiful in it’s Mohave-eqseness, it absolutely fucking horrifying when you are tired and hungover and having a spiritual breakdown. I mean, it truly sucks. What else is there to do but think for hours and hours? It is the desert, hours and hours and hours of it. Heat and dust and ears clogged by descending mountains that don’t seem to be there.

Thank the gods for Hollywood and my friends Kathy and Marcia and David, and for the bottle of red wine I immediately opened upon arrival. Fueled by lasagna and Refosco, I was ready, at least in theory, for the show.

I got to the Avalon right at 8:00 when openers Air Traffic went on. I won’t say too much about them because I still feel bad about writing about the last opener Elbow had, and one of the members of that band read my blog and commented. I am not a critic, so I am not going to say anything. Let’s just leave it at I Was Waiting for Elbow.

It was an incredible show that totally changed everything back to the way it should be. Elbow came out and played the first song from the new record, “Starlings” (as I pretty much knew they would) and pretty much the whole band was up with a horn… I can’t really explain it, so check this out.

There were two songs I really wanted to hear from their new record, “Mirrorball” and “The Loneliness Of A Tower Crane Driver.” Well, they played both of them and let me tell you, these two songs are among the most stunningly beautiful songs I have ever heard. Live, they pretty much slayed me. The rest of the show was alternately jaw-droppingly lovely and totally rocking – on some songs, I almost put my boot heel through the floorboards. I was so happy. I can’t remember the last time I was so truly and completely happy. Looking around at the rest of the audience, everyone was happy. The band was happy. It occurred to me, gradually and then suddenly, that THIS is what makes me happy. Fuck Vegas, fuck the road, fuck the long drives. I’m here, now, watching this amazing band and everyone is happy. And there is fake smoke and a disco ball. I am in love again. Everyone in the building sings “throw those curtains wide – a day like this a year’d see me right.” Yes, it is true.

Of course, not every show has this effect, and not every audience is so into it, and not every band comes on and plays a perfect show. But when it all happens, it is the best thing ever.

There is a footnote to this perfect night – I was going to try to meet another music freak there, Elizabeth, who I collaborated with to get Radiohead tickets for their August tour here (basically by staying up all night hitting refresh on our computers.) At 6:00 AM when the tickets finally went on sale, she got three shows and I only got one before the Radiohead server crashed. So, I feel sort of indebted to her.

Anyhow, she had emailed me and told me that she really wanted a set list, because she LOVES Elbow, and that is sort of how I know her in the first place. So during the show I was standing next to a bunch of Elbow’s crew, and right before the encore I asked one of the guys if he could get a set list for my friend. I should admit here that I told a bit of a white lie – I said it was for my friend who was not there, but she WAS there, I just had not found her yet. It just sort of came out that way, I truly did not mean to lie. So the guy tried to get me one after the show, but other crew members were faster and the curtain came down and then I saw him with a cigarette so I figured it was a no go.

Went and found Elizabeth at the sound booth and we walked out, and we were at the door in a big crush of people, I mean ON OUR WAY OUT when I felt a tap on my shoulder. It was the crew guy, and he handed me a set list. He had come out and found me! It was an amazing thing to do.

So, crew guy, if you ever read this, you are a PRINCE and you did something that neither Elizabeth or I will ever forget. THANK YOU.

I drove home Saturday morning from Hollywood playing The Seldom Seen Kid and when Mirrorball came on I broke out into tears. It brought out every lonely moment and every purging of those moments; it brought out everything. And it felt good to cry.

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