Saturday, April 13, 2013

Wet and Wild

It was a night of unbridled enthusiasm.

I'd spent the week finishing several big assignments, so by the time 5:00 rolled around, I was chomping at the bit to get out and about.

I was barely six blocks from home and I saw a familiar face, Myron, a sculptor I know and whom I'd written about in this week's Style Weekly.

I called to him and we enjoyed a raucous conversation in the parking lot about the article.

He was especially tickled that I'd included his intended wording for his tombstone ("He was a fucking asshole"), saying he'd already heard from an out of town friend, bemused by it.

The night was off to a great start.

Driving down Main Street toward Carytown, it looked like everyone on the street was happy.

Once in Secco, one of the bartenders said as much. "You can practically feel people's energy on a Friday like this," he observed.

Let's just say it was so nice that I decided to turn the page to rose, kicking off the season with Bieler Pere et Fils Coteaux Aix-en-Provence rose, a pale salmon charmer with my name all over it.

I'd heard that they had a new menu and took suggestions from my server on what to eat.

He spoke highly of the roasted beets, dill creme fraiche, trout roe and rye crisps, so I said yes.

The guy two stools down was already eating the same dish and we compared raves about the complementary and satisfying flavors.

He went on to recommend the grilled octopus, roasted marbled potatoes, jalapeno and mint, a dish that knocked my socks off with its unexpected heat and toothsome seafood.

As my meal was winding down, I encountered a friend looking for a partner in crime, so I succumbed to her siren song and we enjoyed a springtime walk down to Acacia for a glass and some girltalk.

Both of us must have needed it because one would tell a story (often about our mother or sibling), which would remind the other of a story she needed to tell and then an anecdote from childhood (or worse, our teen years) followed ad nauseum.

While she tried cocktails, I stayed pink with Stolpman Rose, mainly because it was a Sangiovese and Grenache blend and I'm a sucker for both.

Our girl date came to an end when I needed to get to Strange Matter for a show and she needed to go crash after a long day.

Walking into Strange Matter was like walking into a sauna.

The place was packed and Warren Hixson, a local surf rock outfit, had the crowd in their thrall.

Front and center was Nelly Kate, a favorite of mine for her lovely voice and looping abilities, but I hadn't known she was in this band, so a bonus.

I found a friend and a big cup of water to ward off fainting in a room that felt dangerously bereft of air.

But, hey, that's rock and roll, right?

Given the size and sweatiness of the crowd, I wasted no time in finding a place on the wooden  banquette where I could stand and see over the crowd.

I gestured for a sweaty-looking friend to join me and he climbed up, too, maybe eager Io escape the crowd, many of whom had a large X on their hand.

Beach Fossils began their set with a jolt, taking no prisoners and inciting the crowd into a dancing frenzy in no time.

My friend observed that he liked how they combined chillwave and new wave, but the emphasis was more on new than chill.

Bandleader (and formerly the only one in the band) Dustin said tonight was the kick-off of their tour, and I'm sure I wasn't the only one thrilled to be catching them both at a small venue and early on in the tour.

"We haven't slept much, so we might be kind of out of it," he said preemptively.

The insane heat in the room ensured that his guitar never stayed tuned for long, a fact which he kept apologizing for ("Sorry to have to tune in between every song"), though he was no doubt as hot as we were.

"I gotta apologize when I hit a sour note," he grinned. "AKA, the whole set."

If his guitar was occasionally out of tune, his aching and appealing voice more than made up for it.

They did songs from their new album, "Clash the Truth" and their older albums, so everybody was happy.

As they got geared up to fever pitch, the knot of people dancing in the center of the room (where the temperature had to be even hotter than it was against the concrete walls) grew larger with people unable to resist the lo-fi garage pop onslaught of Beach Fossils.

Guitars jangled, the bass was melodic and the drums pounded away so that we couldn't lose the beat.

It was Friday night fun with a capital "F."

Dustin suggested we could expend even more energy, but it was all I could do to maintain my place on the banquette while my clothes became soggier and soggier.

And yet the girl next to me said she'd gone outside and been cold. Cold sounded awfully appealing by then.

"This is our fake last song," Dustin said. "Instead of pretending  this is our last and we're doing an encore, we're just going to do a few more."

That was the license for the audience to start crowd-surfing and before long, Dustin threw himself on top of eager fans.

Within moments, they dropped him, but he managed to scramble back on stage where they did "Daydream," a crowd favorite.

I didn't want the show to end, but I felt like I was melting against the people around me, so when Dustin climbed up on the bass drum to play his guitar, I knew the end was near.

I'd guess that the band's energy had to be near its end too, after an energetic set that left even my hair damp and all I'd done was dance in place.

The only logical thing to do was head out and hope to find some of that cold air I'd been hearing about.

Like my rose earlier, it had been a fine spring kick-off. AKA the whole set.

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