Sunday, October 4, 2015

And a Past in Front of Me

I knew all the people would be in place tonight.

The Diamond Center was back after two years in Austin, playing a show at Black Iris. I'd have bet the farm I'd see certain people: the ferocious front woman, the best guitarist/grammarian I know, the red-lipped bass player, the bride-to-be, the hairdresser to the stars and I wasn't disappointed.

Big No were already playing when I got in, so I found a decent place to stand and watch their last couple songs. The show must have started on time and my tardiness had deprived me of their full set. Sounded like it was my loss.

A DJ friend and I got to talking about this weather and he labeled it as not good for much besides napping and cats. So what had he and his lovely curly-haired wife (her hair looking particularly fetching in this humidity tonight) done besides that today, I asked.

"We went grocery shopping, really grocery shopping," he told me, imbuing the words with genuine enthusiasm. Seems they'd taken their sweet time at the store, looking for new items, comparing prices, just taking every little detail in. Because they could and it was as enjoyable a way as any to spend the end of the wet afternoon.

"Then our friends came over for drinks and now we're here!" he said. "That's the whole day."

Well done, sir. His pleasure was still evident.

He got a pained look on his face when he realized he'd forgotten earplugs, so I was a hit when I reached in my bag and pulled out a fresh pair still in the wrapper. His eyes got big and he reached out and gave me a bear hug, I think before he even realized what he was doing.

Saving friends' hearing, two plugs at a time.

Another DJ replaced him for fresh conversation, this time about a person we had in common. He'd worked with this colorful character 20 years ago and I'd interviewed him last spring. My friend said he still remembered some of that guy's malapropisms, such as, "You got a helluva future behind you."

Come on, that's Yogi Berra-worthy, bless his heart.

Then the Diamond Center got started and things got groovy fast. They're touring behind their new album, "Crystals for the Brass Empire," and it was fantastic to hear them playing again.

Guitarist Kyle got the masses in the zone by saying, "Okay, everybody, at the same time, take a big breath," and you could hear a collective inhale, "and exhale saying "om."

When our room-sized "om" wasn't sufficient, he called out, "Louder!" and damned if we didn't get louder.

"Don't you feel better?' he grinned from stage. I don't know about the others, but I felt nothing but good vibes.

To my side, I spotted a friend paying more attention to social media than the show and suggested he live in the moment. He said, "I can't!" but it wasn't long before he finished trying to convince people to come out and just enjoyed the show himself.

Quaint, right?

I always heard the Diamond Center's music as psychedelic but listening to them tonight felt even trippier than it used to and several of the new songs were knockouts, Kyle's guitar chiming through the shifting soundscapes, Brandi's ethereal vocals nd Tim's distinctive drumming created an effect like every past Diamond Center show I recall on steroids.

During one section of a new song, the music was so winningly, optimistically '60s-sounding, you couldn't help but feel like all was right with the world and everything was possible. I let it wash over me.

Interestingly, later, chatting with the library worker,  he described an early Diamond Center show as having had a moment when, "I've never felt so hippie-like in my life." I knew precisely what he meant.

"Come see us at the merch table," Kyle said near the end of their set. "We have lots of stuff. We have records. We have jewelry." There was a moment's pause.

"That's about all we have," he concluded, as if that wasn't plenty.

My favorite shorty regaled me with tales of her upcoming trip to London and Barcelona, with a side trip to the desert, even showing off photos of the low-slung, modern digs they'll be staying in there, complete with outdoor bath tubs.

Because why not in the desert?

In spite of loads of familiar faces (and conversations with all kinds of favorite, interesting people I don't see enough of), there were some new ones, too, and I wondered how many of them might be experiencing the Diamond Center for the first time. If so, Black Iris was a fine place to do it.

Long-time blissed-out fans wouldn't have missed being in place tonight.

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