The Summer Shows

Surrounded by upscale office buildings and expensive stores, engulfed by the higher class of up nosed college students and a younger, rowdier generation, dulled and falling apart next to the polished and renovated. Seemingly misplaced in the corner of a lot, the stout coffee shop opens its doors to new, overwhelming energy as the sun drips down on worn brick. Large painted letters on the side, fading but visible, state THE FIXX. Glass doors for the general public in front, locked up tight. A chipped maroon door to a new generation in back, open wide.

Cars drag around the corner, racing to find an open parking spot. Make sure this spot isn’t tow, man. I can’t afford that to happen after it lugged away last time. Locking up and bolting out, melodic clinking choirs sing from multiple slammed doors. Worn out Vans and sneakers thud on pavement as more cars flood in. Trucks, SUVs, Compact, Smart, Old, New. Patched up tour vans lug equipment and merchandise for loyal followers with excitement in conversations and the loud, squealing thirteen year olds with neon lighting their way. Common names are thrown back and forth, and are fawned over for one song. The unknown names are approached speculatively with arrogant criticism. Never heard of ‘em, I think I know their singer. Grumbling people, struggling to keep their balance as they trot along through the parking lot with obviously overweight and decorated cases. Do you need help, man? Anything we can help you carry? Watch yourself, it's pretty heavy. Large amps and small boxes on wheels rolling through the door, followed by pieces of old drum kits carried exhaustedly and cautiously.
Old friends reuniting, acquaintances chatting, band members and supporters fretting. Where is she? Is that band going to get here on time? Call him up, ask him where he is! Running back and forth, exchanging phones for different connections, asking in circles for numbers and names. The air turns thick with summer heat, monsoon humidity, and the floating smoke from cheap, filtered cigarettes. The pale aroma of greasy fast-food enticing people for a quick look at the dollar menu before everything starts up.

Laughter, obnoxious and genuine, collides with the honks of cars and the hum of the glowing, over-sized city buildings. Circles of girls gossip about recent events with words as valuable as liquid gold. That lyric tattoo was seriously not done well at all. Did you guys hear what she did to him? Did he really fight that guy? She shouldn't wear cropped shirts to shows, does she ever learn? Well she told me that he heard one of his friends telling someone he knew that she went and told her friends…

Semi-circles of guys congregate beside the sidewalk and next to cars. Flimsy sticks of tobacco between their lips, chatting about unheard music they've recently discovered, whose party is this weekend, what certain blown-out-of-proportion drama has been ignited by certain talkative girls.

Outside of the single maroon door, a long line begins to form. Wrinkled tickets are rummaged from jean pockets and oversized hand bags. Dollar bills are plucked from wallets; spare change jingles and creates an unheard tune. I have presales you guys-! Who needs tickets, we got 'em! Only five bucks for the best in Arizona! Hands trade money for the bent sheets of paper. We need to make the amount we promised, find some more people. Jeez, why did we not do this at the mall across the street, man? The ground begins to form a collage of trash. Fliers of different groups, different hues and designs, different genres litter the pavement. The asphalt becomes dotted with butts from cancer sticks, gum and its’ tinfoil coverings, and empty drink cups.

The above street lights illuminate everything within ten feet, giving a warm glow under a color-draining moon. The city’s buildings are now fully lit up. Wide open windows and flashy neon signs making them appear as rectangular, modern day Christmas trees. Cars in nearby streets fly by and honk impatiently at each other. Adding to the orchestra is the sound of a guitar and bass, slowly progressing through a warm up. The banging and crashing of drums soon follows. The line outside begins to slink into the building. Check! Check, Check, Check! Can you hear me back there? Tune up, tune down. People stick their hands out to be marked with a bold Sharpie X as they approach the ticket table. The noise inside becomes louder as the voices of friends and strangers chime in with their own warm ups of laughter and conversation. X marks the spot. Next person, please! What band are you here for! Names are exchanged and tallied down on a fading piece of lined paper. Next, please! X marks your heart. Next!

Through the maroon door, the hall to the main floor is pitch-black. Lamps from the center room leave silhouettes of people, instrument cases, and kits visible. A light from a bathroom reveals a sign hung up for the benefit of “rebels”. "ENTER PIT AT OWN RISK. WE ARE NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR INJURIES. HELP WHOEVER FALLS TO THEIR FEET. ENJOY." At the main floor, walls covered in the imagination of local artists and stickers are the mind-blowing backdrop for each band. A couch and some chairs are pushed back to create a make-shift stage. Several small lights make the whole room visible. Separated by a wide door and a long, horizontal window is the café part of this music haven.

Hung on the walls are canvases, some oversized and some puny. Outrageous prices from starving artists listed underneath each. Several people in outspoken clothing saunter in, seating themselves at one of the many chess tables set up to occupy costumers.

How do you even play this game?

I don’t know. Move that small piece up like, five spaces?
Through the thin glass window, they watch the band tune. The warm smell of coffee hangs in the air as workers hurriedly clean stations and empty trash bins; rushing to close up so they can watch the show begin. The main room becomes crowded as individuals of all sizes and styles lean against the walls. Some look around wearily, anticipating those who decide to jump in the center and thrash around to the music. The band finally finishes tuning up, looking into the antsy crowd. The front man smiles brightly and gestures behind him to his members. The entire audience claps and cheers, egging the band to start already. The singer smirks one last time before turning his back to the crowd and lifting up his arm.

The music finally starts to play.





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