Three bucks at the door, wooden hallway, band already playing because we’d run late (Did we just pass Ft. Collins? Shit, we’re almost to Wellington. VZ Navigator: make your next legal U-turn). Drinks hard to get (packed bar), seats impossible to find (packed house), we lined the wall near where we came in as Angus Mohr warmed their way into their first set. Vibrations thumped and rumbled through the planks of the dance floor, catching up even those of us on the fringe.
I reached for my camera, only to find it was out of both memory and batteries. We’d been planning this trip since June. The two Lonigan’s shows have long been marked as the blog series’ finale, not just because it’s the end of summer, but because it is one of the band’s favorite venues to play. Yet, I showed up to the first night unprepared.
“The island it is silent now
But the ghosts still haunt the waves …”
Just before we left for Estes Park, I found out that an accident had taken the life of a former student. I tried to rationalize and ignore the sense of futility that accompanied the news. He was only in my class a short time. I remembered him, but did not know him well. I didn’t want to bring anyone down–including myself.
“Did the old songs taunt or cheer you
And did they still make you cry…”
You can’t think away sadness. Even the tears that contorted my body like an electric current, halfway through “Thousand’s are Sailing,” represented only temporary relief.
“And the torch lights up a famished man
Who fortune could not save …”
By the time we’re adults, we’re never hurting for just one person. Each death gives birth to a new organ of grief and memory, linked by veins and vessels, into a daisy chain of dark hearts pumping out pain.
“Thousands are sailing
Again across the ocean…”
Sometimes, those hearts break us. Fractured masks playing hide and seek with sorrow, denying its existence while it drives us in and out of cover. It’s a universal experience that makes us feel utterly alone.
“ And “The Blackbird” broke the silence
As you whistled it so sweet…”
Till we’re there, moving to a beat with other people, and it doesn’t matter if they’re strangers or friends. It is our oldest communion, structure without definition, giving us something to hold on to without enslaving us to ideology.
Everything doesn’t have to be all right; in those sacred seconds, we can just be.
“Now we dance to the music
And we dance…”
Part 2: Saturday, which I originally planned to post at the same time as Part 1, has been delayed (mostly by my wretched photography– I need time to get good pics from Shelle.). It’ll be out later this week– all fun and no philosophy–I promise. While you’re waiting, check out the Lonigan’s Photosynth.