The first thing I noticed were that his arms were as thin as mine. Draped over the metal railing separating the audience from the stage, they were lightly sunburned from four days of exposure, and ended in long-fingered hands which were pressed together palm to palm as if in prayer. He was wearing an Eraserhead t-shirt. I love that movie, I thought. We should be friends.
“Do you know anything about this next band?” I asked, expecting and receiving a reverent answer.
“Oh man,” he said, his eyes making only the briefest of contact with mine before slanting away. “S. is the reason I came to this festival.”
I was impressed, and, as a sign of respect from one rail-hugging music nerd to another, I made sure he could see from my reaction that I was impressed.
“Who is S.?”
“Oh man. S. is the name of Jenn Ghetto’s band. Do you know Carissa’s Weird?”
“That was the band she was in with Mat Brooke who later went on to form Band of Horses….”
I spaced out a little as he detailed the manifold convolutions in time and space that had been necessary to bring Jenn Ghetto and her band to the Twix! Yeti Stage at 2:45 in the afternoon, on the last day of the Sasquatch Music Festival. I enjoy hearing people talk about their passions, but it can be difficult for me to focus on the details when said passion lies outside of my own interests. Recently, I was regaled by a culinary-minded aunt who went through the taxonomy of gnocchi variations. I can’t remember a word she said, but I appreciated the way her face lit up when she was speaking.
“….and she hardly ever tours which is why I’m so excited right now,” he concluded.
“Wow,” I replied. It was the same polite “wow” I’ve heard directed at myself when I’ve finished explaining the basic differences between English and Spanish syntax.
He leaned towards me. Where he had been only very serious before, he was now very, very serious.
“I love her,” he said.
Knowing no response was necessary, I turned back to the stage. The technicians had almost finished setting up S.’s equipment. The audience, a few dozen or less in number, many of whom were already drunk, began the time-honored concert tradition of shouting, “Woooooooo!” and “Let’s go!” as 2:45 rolled around. They were fond of music in general, perhaps, and glad to be seeing more of it, but they were certainly not in love.
He tapped me on the shoulder.
“There she is,” he said.
Jenn Ghetto took the stage with three bandmates. She was thin, and pretty in a genuine, not-trying-to-be-pretty sort of way. I had trouble figuring out what the black tattoos covering her arms represented, although I was able to make out the word “used” written across the knuckles of her left hand. She had a clear, ringing voice. She thanked the audience sweetly after every song. Her music was enjoyable.
My friend on the rail was beside himself. The object of his desire was ten feet in front of him. He sang along to every song. He jumped up and down. He applauded wildly as each song began and as each song ended. He threw his head back and said, “Yes!!!!!” several times.
“I’m sure most of you don’t know who we are, but thanks for coming out,” said Jenn Ghetto halfway through the set.
“I do!” he replied. “You’re the reason I came to Sasquatch!”
She was quiet for a moment, perhaps unsure of how to respond to someone telling her that they had spent three hundred and sixty dollars to attend a four-day festival for the main purpose of watching her band play a forty-five minute set.
“I love you!” he shouted during this quiet. A few people in the sparse crowd laughed, but what did they know? They weren’t in love. If he heard them he didn’t appear to care.
I was envious. I don’t believe I’ve ever loved anything enough to the point where I was as immune to ridicule as common sense.
Jenn Ghetto went on to the next song without acknowledging his heartfelt confession. She continued for another twenty minutes, thanked the crowd a final time, and then it was over.
I could see that my friend was a little disappointed her set had ended five minutes ahead of schedule. Surely that was time enough for one more song, wasn’t it? He remained on the rail as the technicians went to work taking down S.’s equipment, and I left him there. There was no point in saying anything to him, not even good-bye. I knew he wasn’t in a state of mind that would let him hear a word I had to say.
More importantly, I was in a hurry. Courtney Barnett was scheduled to play the main stage in 15 minutes and I wanted to be on the rail for her. I wanted her to see that I was singing along to every word of every single song she played.
I wanted her to realize that I loved her even if I was too shy to say it out loud.