Continued from this post:
Ran five minutes getting to the venue to change my ticket in for a wristband. Car keys digging in my thighs entire time. Felt greasy and gross from the long ride, sleeping at a rest stop, and now the running. Gum in my mouth and combing my hair with fingers were all I had for defenses against the lowering of my beauty levels. As I got to the building realized my running didn’t matter: the line stretched on and on, full of young folks.
Since this was Halloween weekend loads of people were costumed. I remember seeing a lion carrying a can of gasoline. Got in line behind group of people. They noticed my Driveshaft shirt and started talking to me about Lost. Told me they were just singing Driveshaft on the ride down. We all broke out into a short verse of “You All Everybody.” Felt kind of dorky, but it was fun. Knew I needed to loosen up more and give in to silly things like that.They asked where I was coming from, and seemed impressed I drove straight through from North Dakota. Didn’t tell them I started off on a farm in my mommy’s car. So now I was in line and already talked to some people. Maybe the weekend was to be more social than I feared.
Got ticket exchanged and booked it down street to get to The Orange Peel where Dan Deacon was playing his analog synthesizer set. Way this festival was set up was that most music took place in an arena, but also at a few scattered venues all within a couple blocks of each other in the downtown area. Think of them as outlying Dharma stations if you need to.
Had a map of where I was supposed to go, but got lost. Ran so much and so felt real sweaty and out of it. Cut through alley after seeing some kids book down a street that way. Turns out they were headed where I wanted to be, so I chased down after them like we were in a game of tag and I was it. Got in line, but the venue was full so was at one in-one out. All my speeding, all my running, just to get dead stopped in a line. And this I had no control over. I couldn’t push a gas pedal down and make myself be inside. Guess I could’ve plowed through people and the side of the building with my mom’s car. Cool kids, bags of licorice, pot, shoulder kittens, bricks, all flying everywhere. But that would’ve meant hiking back to where I parked.
People came out in droves telling us not to go in there because it sucked. Line started moving quick. No carmageddon needed. Could hear music out on the sidewalk, and yeah it didn’t sound so great. Perhaps all my speeding wasn’t really worth it. Heard a guy tell his girlfriend he hid heroin in his shoe.
Eventually I got in. They searched me, gave me a 21+ wristband, checked my gum pack for drugs. Most of the crowd was on the floor hogging all the space. I stood at the back and watched Dan Deacon, a chunky bald dude with huge glasses, manipulate a lunch table full of wires and cords. He made noises into a microphone. Honestly it seemed like I was watching someone in a beanbag chair yodel through a vocoder. He talked about the founder of Moog synths for a bit, then him and some dude carried away the lunch table full of wires. I didn’t feel so bad about missing half the set since it was kinda lame. I didn’t hate it. It just sort of happened and I never engaged.
After the performance I texted Blair asking if I could call since I had to walk back to the main venue and had a bit of time. But she was mad at me (rightly so) saying she felt like I never fully opened up to her. This was new to me, even though I knew it was true. Got mad, started asking why the fuck she was talking about this stuff after I’d been up for thirty hours and was just trying to enjoy the music I worked so hard to get to. Instead of talking on the phone we ended up having a vile text message fight. We fought like this often, and it never turned out well because I was always too stubborn to admit she was right or that it didn’t matter, and because you can’t effectively communicate through texts. So I walked up this street all pissed. Dan Deacon sucked and now my girlfriend was upset. Moogfest was not starting off great.
Thought about how before I even came out Blair and I fought so bad it was up in the air whether I’d go to New York or not. I bitched about this because I just had to know immediately so I could decide on whether going to Moog or not. My primary concern wasn’t my relationship, but whether I was going to lose money on buying a festival ticket. Moogfest kept saying tickets were about to sell out. But they said this for weeks. I gave in to the anxiety of thinking I might not get a ticket. So eventually I just bought the thing and told her I was coming out east, and hoped she’d want me up in New York. We got over that fight, at least enough to know we still wanted to see each other. So I drove out to North Carolina, and now here I was walking up a street angry at the person I was meant to be going to see in a couple days. It would have been so much better if the festival had sold out before I got my ticket.
Got to the main venue watching what I thought was The Octopus Project. Before the festival I researched bands I hadn’t heard of and picked out a few I’d like to see. The Octopus Project was one of those bands. But watching them they didn’t seem like what I heard on record. After twenty minutes realized I was watching a different band. Walked around for a long time, circling the top of the arena on its cement floors. Could not find the other venue that was supposed to be attached in this place. Every time I thought I was there I really was just up in the balcony of the main arena, looking into janitors’ closets. But eventually I found the place.
Got into this venue, Thomas Wolfe Auditorium, which was seated like a theater but with a standing pit up at the stage. They even had a full concession stand out front like a movie theater. Went up to the pit and saw a bit of The Octopus Project. Devo was supposed to play next and that’s what I was really excited for. I’d been listening to their new album all summer and used it as my jogging music a lot of times, so I connected them to memories of running with my mom, my dogs, and Blair; to my attempts to be healthier. A couple days before the festival the guitarist from Devo cut his hand on some glass, so Devo was supposed to play a collaborative set with The Octopus Project. They came out and played two songs with Octopus during Octopus’ time. They weren’t dressed up, didn’t dance, and it was lame. The advertised Devo set wasn’t supposed to start for a half hour, so I thought the shit I just witnessed must be some kind of warm-up. They played the two songs and got off stage. Octopus Project cleared their equipment away.
This couldn’t be it for Devo. The schedule said they were to play in a bit. So myself and a bunch of other people stood around waiting to see what was going to happen. There were no announcements. This thin rat of a dude came up to me and started talking about Devo. Said his name was Yar and that he’d come from D.C. solely to see Devo. After chatting with him for a bit he asked if I had any Molly (MDMA). I don’t do drugs, but had to pretend that I knew what he was talking about and was like “ah, nah, man, I got nothing on me.” I wanted to play it cool. He was fine with that.
A couple approached us and started talking about Devo. Wanted to know if they were playing or not. Yar and I, old friends that we were, put our heads together but still didn’t know. Texted Blair to have her look up what the deal was. Got talking to this couple and told them I drove from North Dakota. They asked me what there was in North Dakota and I said not much. Let them play into the stereotype that we’re nothing but farmland and snow (governors with mustaches, too). I actually love my home state, but unless if it’s summer there isn’t much reason to be there. It’s a pretty place, peaceful, and I’ll always call it home, but it gets cold and there isn’t much going on in terms of events. I guess that’s part of why I travel so much, to escape North Dakota. Yet I always return.
Anyway Blair got back to me and said that it looked like the two songs was all Devo was to play and now they were just going to get some award. I passed along the news to Yar and the couple. Told Yar that sucked he didn’t get to see his favorite band. I hope he found some Molly to make up for the disappointment. Maybe I could’ve sold him a tab of Alka-Seltzer, or Mydol posing as ecstasy like my friend Tmack did to a dipshit from our hometown.
Talked to my parents on the phone for a bit letting them know I was at the music place waiting for a concert to start. Told them I made it okay and that I checked into my fictional hotel. After we got done chatting I headed down to the main venue to catch Big Boi. Felt really great. I had already talked to a ton of people. It was really easy since they started the conversation and we all had this mutual topic of great music to discuss. I’d heard that music festivals were great places to meet friends and have an easygoing weekend with new people. It kind of felt like I was beginning to experience that. I didn’t have any expectations, but began hoping that maybe I’d make some weekend friends that I’d be able to catch some shows with. Didn’t want to be lonely, and felt distant from Blair since she was so upset with me.
Down in the main venue they had large screens set up that had a live feed from the main stage. Before any music came on they had a number you could text to get your own message up on the screen. There was stuff like (assumedly) fake marriage proposals, and this silly shit:
Big Boi was really great. He did a bunch of Outkast hits, plus good shit from his new album. Had ton of dancers up on stage who did elaborate routines involving folding chairs and a dozen girls culled from the audience. There was a live backing band and lots of visuals projected onto a screen. Big Boi was cool as fuck. I stood on the outside of this crowd of a few thousand people and danced on the cement floor. Sang along. It was fun. I have an annoying habit of trying to photograph shows too much, so took a ton of shitty photos with my mom’s cheap camera. Out of like thirty, about three were usable.
After Big Boi I stood around in the main venue waiting for MGMT to start. A shitty cardboard U.F.O. hung from the ceiling. Indulged on a $3 bottle of water since I knew I’d be in this room for a long time. I’m sure a $3 water bottle doesn’t sound like much to most, but I have a weird mental thing about spending money on shit that I feel is a ripoff. Now I finally had a bit of money and figured $3 was better than being dehydrated and losing my spot. I wasn’t sure, but maybe this meant I was going to stop being such a cheapo when it came to spending cash. I’ve lived most of my adult life very poor, and so always held onto money as tight as I could. To the point that I look like a cheap dipshit a lot of the time.
MGMT played. I’d seen them a few years before when they opened for Beck in St. Paul, Minnesota. For that show I went to school, got out and drove the five hours to Minneapolis, ran to the concert, had fun, then drove straight home and went to school a couple hours after getting back to my green apartment. When I saw MGMT open they were boring, which was a disappointment since I loved their record. Going into this I loved their new record, but they were still boring. I guess it felt like watching a bunch of dead people on stage. I like a band to have a bit of energy, and they really were lethargic. There was some fun stuff though. They shot out balloons into the crowd that were filled with candy. A guy in a Robot Unicorn Attack outfit popped one with his horn and the candy fell out.
Then at the end MGMT came out of their cocoon and got fun for the final two songs. I enjoyed it. Too bad they didn’t do that before. Maybe the should’ve eaten some of the candy they gave out.
After they finished I went and saw a couple minutes of Van Dyke Parks, who is this old storyteller that wrote a bunch of Beach Boys songs. He kind of had a whimsy to him and talked about writing all these famous songs, then played some shit on his piano. I kind of became more transfixed on a standing guy in a seaweed monster costume and so watched him watch the stage.
After a bit went down to wait for Dan Deacon to come on. He was going to do his regular dance driven high energy set this time. Was looking forward to something other than electronic jug blowing. Two girls came up to me and complimented my Driveshaft shirt. I was kinda awkward and said that Lost was a great show, asked them if they enjoyed MGMT. They said yeah and I pretended to agree. They took off, but I felt good. I’d already had a ton of people talk to me. It might not seem like much to most of you to have little conversations like that, but for me social contact with strangers feels awkward until the ice is broken. After that I do okay, but I really do cherish any little moments such as these, fleeting and temporary as they are. So I was glad to not be locked in my brain and instead having nice conversations with new people. It felt good, and knew it was something I wanted to do more often.
Looked around and saw everyone and everything. There was a guy holding the satanic incarnation of Rave Duck on a stick, and a girl whose costume left her virtually nude (rose petals on her nipples, tiny little fig leaf bottom). A creepy older dude took photos of her. I imagined him wanking off to them in his car that night. I hope he enjoyed himself as he shot it all over his odometer.
Dan Deacon came out and played. He was the only person on this huge stage and ran around it joking that he’d have to use up the whole space. He gave us a review of some movie he’d watched in his van. His stage set up was a pair of disembodied hands with a strobe light built in, bad confetti tape on his speakers, and a chopped off head with two faces.
A Dan Deacon show is all about crowd interaction. In between him constantly spazzing out on the light and sound people for pointing stage lights at him, not cranking his audio loud enough (Yo guy in the sound booth, don’t know what you’re doing, but let my friend take over, he’ll know what to do), he gave us fun activities and tasks. Made us back up so that a dance circle could be formed. In that there was a dance battle happening between costumed people. I was too far back to see much of it. He made us kneel and copy the interpretive dance moves of some guy in the middle of the circle. Mainly this just made my body sore. I’m not a very good croucher. Kudos to those who are. Dan Deacon ended by inviting a bunch of costumed people up on stage and there was a dance battle between Cookie Monster and a seven foot banana. That was fun.
Girl Talk was the final show of the night for me. Decided to see him instead of Panda Bear since I heard Girl Talk shows were insane. By this point I’d been up for about thirty six hours, minus my couple hours of rest stop sleep. Didn’t know if I could enjoy the show. It began with two stagehands coming out holding a baby.
A guy ripped off the baby’s head and blood shot onto the crowd.
Girl Talk came out dressed as Freddy Krueger: claws, sweater, mask. He danced on the table of his laptop. Tons of costumed people joined him on stage and began dancing.
Here’s some extremely, extremely shitty footage I shot of it. I only took it because I wanted to show Blair since she was interested in what his live show was like:
Everyone was singing along with the songs “move bitch, get out the way, get out the way bitch…” This was a total party. Stagehands ran around shooting off rolls of toilet paper. Eyeball design balloons got tossed into the crowd. They were filled with fake blood so when they popped on you, ya got splatted. I got covered in some nice blood. Was so tired, but this was such a great party show and I still enjoyed myself.
After over an hour of dancing and stage antics it finished. I watched workers sweep up piles of toilet paper. Bloody eye balloons lay popped on the floor.
Stood outside the venue for awhile. Thousands of young people getting ready to head off with their friends to party more or crash out at their hotel. To fuck, to love, to smoke crack out of their shoes and watch Aqua Teen. I just stood there listening to conversation, hoping someone would maybe strike up a chat with me. It didn’t happen, so headed back to my car.
Parked a ways away and couldn’t quite remember where. As I got further from the venue the street darkened and I felt uneasy. The Minneapolis hobo had chased me only a month prior, and I felt nervous anytime I was on a city street late at night now. Outside a tiny brick building called Club Hairspray stood a crippled hobo. He had a crutch and was close to seventy. Was a good twenty feet from me. Asked me for a dollar and told him “No sorry man, don’t carry cash.” I picked up that response from my sister while visiting her in Olympia, Washington. He wished me a good night. As I speed walked away I kept looking back to see if he was after me. Surely his old age and crutch were all put-ons meant to lure in unsuspecting North Dakota boys. Soon he’d pull off the old man mask and reveal his crutch was actually a bayonet.
Got to a street corner and when I saw guys walking around I got buku nervous. Heart was beating and felt this panic since I didn’t know where the car was. Knew it was by a church. So worried something bad would happen to me. Eventually spotted that church and my car. Finally, back to the holy land. Did as casual of a run as I could to get to it while activating the autostart. Got in, locked the doors, and breathed out. Ah, I was safe. Sure I was safe from a bunch of shit I imagined, but at least I felt better about it.
Really had no definite plan about where or how I was going to sleep. Just knew I’d do it in the back seat of the car. Figured I could make up a little bed like I did in Minneapolis. So I started driving around looking for a location. Blair and I hadn’t really talked much after our fight and by this point she’d gone to bed. I had kind of forgotten about the stress with her for a few hours but now it was back on my mind. Ears rang. Didn’t know where to sleep. And now I had to go to bed with the fight unresolved.
Coming into Asheville my car was almost out of gas. Now I needed to find somewhere to fill up. Since I didn’t know the area I drove around for a long time looking. Got worried watching the gas go down, the meter telling me I had twenty miles to E, now ten. Figured I’d go empty, have to abandon the car and walk the streets looking for a gas station, too embarrassed to ask for help. Eventually found a place connected to a donut shop and filled up when I had about six miles left on the tank. It was dark, so while pumping I changed outside the car into my sleeping clothes: sixth grade basketball shirt and bad sweatpants. Imagined a security camera watching me get down to my underwear. I hope that security tape wasn’t thrown into some pile, but instead circulated amongst the gas station employees like some Samara shit; the VHS labeled: Beauty Incarnate.
Drove up and down hilly streets for close to two hours. Made excuses for why each spot wasn’t good enough. Really I was just scared and wanted to delay this as long as possible. Didn’t want to park in front of a house, but that didn’t leave many options. I drove through a hospital’s parking lot many times since it was a good turnaround. Went by the same cop car more than once. Sometimes got lost and ended up in business districts. Drove by many hotels and wondered if I should just get one. But $50 for eight hours in a smelly bed didn’t equal out to me. So I just wandered the same neighborhoods. Eventually picked a place because I thought the cops would be called about this car driving up and down the same streets over and over. I had used up a quarter tank of my new gas.
Thought I could sleep on the floor of the backseat. In typical Nolan fashion I hadn’t investigated whether this was possible up until now. When I finally looked back there I saw the middle console jutted too far back for me to lay down. Crawled into the backseat and tried rearranging things. I had a TV, a mini fridge in a box, and a microwave. There just was no room. Put the microwave in the trunk, but now it was full. Tried pushing the TV and box against the front seats. That didn’t leave enough room for me to squeeze in. Tried getting those things on the floor but there wasn’t enough space. I was laying down most of the time while trying to arrange this. Felt hot and my sweatpants kept sliding down my ass anytime I moved.
Spent over an hour trying different arrangements. Carried the fridge and TV to the trunk, separately, and tried to fit them in. No luck. Tried a million different arrangements. I’m sure if someone saw me I looked crazy, carrying things in and out of a car at three in the morning. The OCD car arrangement shuffle. Eventually I set the fridge in the front seat. The TV was still there but I put it down at the end with my feet. Was paranoid about being seen so made a blanket fort. I did this by tucking my black and green comforter into the space between the TV and door at my feet. Then laid it across the space over the trunk on the back window. Weighted it down with bottles of carbonated water. (I’m addicted to that shit and bring it wherever I go. My mommy just recently gave me 24 bottles to bring back to Portland.) Tucked the blanket over my head. Anyone looking in would see wiggling feet sticking out, and water bottles on a blanket canopy. Six pack rings still attached. So obvious a North Dakota hobo had come to town. At least the residents would know this hobo wasn’t going to siphon their water supply. This was a horrible arrangement.
Soon was very hot. Pulled up my pants. Then took my shirt off. Still too hot. The blanket became untucked by my feet. Had to stick my head out the other end otherwise I couldn’t breathe in this heat. Licked the sweat rimming mouth. Body was contorted in an uncomfortable position due to the TV and short length of the backseat. Now it was getting to be dawn. All I could do was half sleep. My windows fogged and had moisture on them, both of which I thought of as blessings. Saw a jogger go by. Heard people starting their cars for work. The sun was going to show soon and I felt too exposed. Tried sleeping for maybe another hour or two this way.
Eventually decided I was too out in the open on this residential street. Got my shirt back on and crawled up front. Every part of me now sore. Drove around half an hour looking for a new spot. Ended up on a dead end street down a hill. There were only houses on one side, grass and brush on the other. Parked at the end of the street so I wasn’t opposite any houses. Didn’t care much if I was seen now. So tired. So out of it. Dirty as fuck. Moved the TV so I could lean my seat back. Cranked heat for a while. Piled blankets over me. Put on an extra pair of socks.
Eventually I turned the car off. The sun was up and now heating me. Looked back and saw the water bottles still weighting down the blanket in the backseat. Got a pillow for my head. Pulled a blanket over my face. I’d been up for well over forty hours. Found myself all alone. Turned on my side and went to sleep. Cuddled against Blair’s refrigerator.
Your Carbonated Water Narrator, GABFRAB:
P.S. I edited part of this while listening to my neighbors fuck. That was fun I guess. Normally their baby cries all day, so these new cries were a welcome change.
I’m better about talking to people now. I have to go out of my comfort zone, but I realize it isn’t such a big deal. Went to a Bright Eyes concert in Minneapolis a couple weeks ago and talked to a mohawk dude in line for like twenty minutes. It was fun. In the same line some long haired smoking dude talked about getting his shit together, finishing his GED, and how he lost friends when mushrooms got involved. I guess chatting with people really isn’t worth being anxious over, and for me it seems to bring more good to my life than bad. At least until mushrooms get involved.