...being the observations and navigational extracts
from the ongoing expeditions of San Francisco Piano Pop trio
True Margrit

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Anarchy Rules

Weed, CA August 4, 2012, 5:45 pm, Altitude: 3,420 feet With our performing artist wristbands at the ready, we head towards the 4&20 Blackbird Festival gate, then go we striding onto Main Street. It's almost 6pm, and the sun though aslant, is still brutal. There's a band tuning somewhere, a little squeak of feedback quickly squelched. There are booths with woven hippie hats, funny and/ or arty t-shirts, Manic Panic hair dye, beer, beer, beer, meat-on-a-stick, hamburgers, hot dogs, offerings of West African cuisine, Thai cuisine, and even food from planet Vegan. We hit a show at one of the indoor stages, The Cottonmouth Club. It's normally one of the live rooms that are part of Radiostar Studios, owned by superfamous producer, Sylvia Massy (who is also the mastermind behind this fest). Tokyo Raid are midway into a literally and figuratively blazing set. It's intensely sweltering in here, and they are melting through their set like molten steel--especially the magnificent drum maniac, Mike Thompson, who looks as though he just might burst into flame before our eyes. There is a bit of private moshing from an onlooker or three. My mind inevitably flashes a slideshow of the paleolithic hardcore punk era of the 1980s, in Knoxville when I was in college--standing in stinky taverns in the muggy summer nights on the Strip, clashing chords, drummers sweating & grunting under speedy eighth notes, twenty-somethings proudly displaying incipient nihilism & tall mohawks, teens with fake IDs sneaking into the bars to soak in this much-needed noise. I can picture one skinny obviously underage kid pumping his fist at a Marginal Man show, his cutoff jean jacket vest scrawled with the epithet, "ANARCHY RULES". Heh...but is that notion paradoxically oxymoronic--or zen koanlike? To rule is to not rule? No rule is the rule--or simply, anarchy is just alright with me? One may never know. After their set, we drift down the street and savor a singular high altitude summer streetfair synesthesia--the toothsome aromas of roasting meats, cookies, and pot, the goldenhour hues setting Mt Shasta's glaciers (what's left of them--thanks global warming) on visual fire. I feel light-headed. Whoa. Am I woozy from the altitude? Or just the heat? We sample some the food options--not cheap but delish, the West African booth's combo plate, with some spicy veggies and grilled beef, annihilates our hunger. A guy with a massive snake draped on his shoulders strolls past us, attracting notice from all passers-by. Kids reach out and pat the snake on the head. It gazes impassively at them with long-suffering reptilian calm. Bands are soundchecking and lurching through their sets. Applause is smattering, the sun setting. We wander to the end of Main Street where the barricade ends. There's a guy utterly alone in a little mini-park crooning some Sinatra-type repertoire and playing loops on his keyboard-- the guerrilla performer crashing the fest. He has a hand painted sign that declares: "Al Sosa sings". He does indeed have some serious vocal chops. We applaud and head back to the scheduled events and catch Major Powers and the LoFi Symphony--who are as sublime as always. At some point before or after they play, dusk melts into evening. We head back over to the theatre and catch the last song of The Family Crest's unplugged set. The room is lit up by their exuberance. We stay for some of the after-party "VIP Ball" which includes live music, live painting, and a pretty hypnotic fractal light show, but by 1:30 am I'm beat and head back to my room at the HI LO. I hear later that there was a burlesque show, and one of the dancers had a digestive disaster onstage. Hmmm, I guess I retired for the evening at precisely the right moment. August 5, noon We set up, and sprint through our first tune. Oh yes! Even without one single rehearsal since March, we still sound like True Margrit--sweet! It's just so nice to play with Gary & Andrew--even if we do have to brave high altitude pulmonary edema for this gig. Mike Thompson asks us to play "Metaphor", and we launch into it before reflecting that we haven't played it in over a year. We give it our best shot nonetheless. And it is not complete train wreck-- but I switch some chords & riffs up, sing the wrong lyrics in several spots, and require prompting from Sarah. But somehow it fits the contained chaos of the past 24 hours. Take a chance, sing something--anything! There are no mistakes only choices. That strict verse/chorus structure of the song can exist in tension with disorder disarray dissonance. Anarchy rules.