Curls and a concert

Sometimes a spirit of adventure overtakes us and we do things we could never have imagined ourselves doing. I seem to have a lengthening list of such things this summer: cutting my hair, joining a gym, driving a stick shift, learning to like mushrooms (sauteed with garlic, not the other kind thank you very much!) So when I got asked to join a band and play a gig, the fact that it didn’t sound like me at all encouraged me to do it. Why not?

In an attempt to embrace the essence of a musician’s lifestyle, I tried to be as laid-back, play-it-cool as possible. Of course I can deny my over-planning perfectionist self. Just watch me!

Of course, the first thing I did was have my hair curled, waxed and hairsprayed to within an inch of its life, and it did look pretty much perfect when I walked out the door. That was probably the last time it looked perfect. When I climbed into the band van (jeep actually), I soon realized that the battered vehicle had no A/C, so it was windows down the whole way there. The wind was blowing everywhere, and I couldn’t even check on my hair’s worsening condition because the side view mirror was torn off! It was a perfect start to a highly ironic evening. I comforted myself that I would locate a bathroom mirror as soon as we got wherever it was we were going (it was a relief to see that the band leader had at least printed out directions! Small nod to my detail-oriented side.) But little did I know where that map would take us.

After following a dirt road until it ended in a chain link fence, we arrived on a dirt hill. I thought we were going to a church, but there was nothing there but a circle of trees, a rustic wooden cross, and a plywood stage that shook and sagged violently as we walked across it. Oh, the “church without walls” concept, right? Ok, it’s cool, I can handle this, I told myself. After spinning our tires out in the dirt and backing up into a tree, we unloaded all our gear and waited for the crowds to show up.

But the big crowds never came. There were only a couple people besides us, the second performer and our respective entourages. “Well, I’ll guess we’ll get started.” We rocked out like champs, but it was discouraging to look out over the audience: The mom proudly snapping pictures of her son on the drums (really, we’re trying to be professional here!); toddlers running everywhere, hands over their ears to block out our volume; a mom changing her baby next to another mom texting on her cellphone; and two teenage girls in the front row mockingly mouthing the words to every song and sharing giggles. It threw me off my groove just to look at them.

One guy sitting on the rock wall seemed attentive (come to find out he was the speaker, he had to be there, but not his teenage daughter, who couldn’t have looked more bored sitting beside him). To top it all off, we broke a string on the second to last song. Fortunately, we were able to corner the other performer into lending us her guitar (by calling her out on stage with the mic on. What could she do, really?)

After our set, the speaker came up and shared a great testimony. But I couldn’t believe it when he launched into an absolute boilerplate altar call. It felt utterly inappropriate for the situation. Who’s going to respond? There’s nobody here! I checked to see how many hands would go during the prayer and spotted three, two of whom people were with our group, so I know they were already saved. It was a nice gesture, though, to give the guy some hope.

Then the second performer came up for a painfully long second set of acoustic guitar paired with her mellow coffee shop voice. It was pretty, but unremarkable, as everyone agreed afterwards. But, boy, she was into it! “If you like what you hear tonight, pick up a cd in the back,” she said between almost every song, reminding us of her name (which was a fake stage name, come to find out).

She had no concept of time, apparently thinking the meager audience was hanging on every note, while in reality we were slapping at mosquitoes and contemplating the growing numbness in our backsides (as quaint as it looks to sit on a rock wall or on the ground, it’s actually quite uncomfortable!) And as she continued on with song after song, the sun gradually slipped down bringing the bugs out in full force.

The whole thing couldn’t have been more humorous. When I finally got back home, I was horrified to find my perfectly curled hair in a tangled, poufy mess. Come to think of it, I never did find that bathroom mirror, all they had at the site were portapotties!

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