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salutations! nick & i are playing a show tomorrow night at
11ish at 254 beacon rd. would love to see you there! bring
A small, grimy party, legitimately degenerate in a way Bill wouldn’t have realized could take place at this school. Somewhere between twenty and four hundred people stand crammed into the garage, full of smoke and with an oppressively low ceiling. Shoddily-constructed support beams pop up unannounced, punctured through with threatening screws. At one end of the room a row of Old English bottles demarcate the stage, where rock instruments and their amps wait to be played. Bill is refilling his forty with keg beer. Jacob and Nick stand by his side.
This is definitely the nicest spot we’ve
ever played.
Not the best crowd, though. Half the people
here are on salvia.
He points in the corner, where a large group of people stand facing the wall, pressing against it with nervous curiosity.
It won’t yield!
A young woman passes by who Bill hasn’t seen before, beautiful and strikingly cool, with long bangs and a chunky sweater. She’s NINA YI, 19. Nick reacts to her:
Hey, Nina.
She’s clearly heard him but walks right by, rushing quickly out the door.
He looks ready to walk after her when, over the amps:
Please give it up for tonight’s last act --
who also happen to be tonight’s first act --
Cheers, ranging from halfhearted to mockingly overblown, ripple through the crowd, and those who stand in the way of the band -- including Bill -- vacate. Jacob picks up his bass and Nick his guitar. A long-haired older guy in a metallic turquoise prom tux gets behind the drumset. They fiddle with their instruments, tuning and soundchecking as though anything in this garage setup could be optimized. When they’re finally ready, they exchange grave nods. Nick steps forward, his brooding intensity adding a particular gravitas to the proceedings. He somehow amounts to much more than the words he speaks -- Bill has thought this about Nick since he met him -- but it has never been more apparent than now. Onstage he is positively poignant.
Hey everyone. We’re Narrator.
A few vaguely mocking “whoops” and “ow-ows” from the audience.
Our songs don’t go together, but here they are.
The first one doesn’t have a name yet.
He lets loose a single glittering chord soaked in reverb, a preview of what’s to come, and the drummer counts off: 1-2-3-4!
They jump into action. Jacob is also slightly transformed into a slightly otherworldly version of himself: he dances with his bass with such confident good cheer it feels somehow rebellious, and it’s certainly infectious. Those who move their bodies at occasions like this begin to groove and those who just prefer to simply stand do so at attention. It’s a good fucking song, so melodious it sounds familiar, even though it isn’t. After another few bars, the vocals begin, though no one onstage appears to be singing...
I’m on the next level, looking at the first level,
wondering how to get back.
Bill looks around. Where is the singing coming from -- who is it who has this beautiful singing voice?
I’m on a rocket ship, beggin’ for a sunset that’s
gonna send me outta the sky.
You’d think you’d be able to spot someone easily in a room this size, but it’s so jam-packed and smoky that it’s impossible to tell.
She’s got a sundial pointed at the palm desert,
who knows what she’s gonna find? 
Bill redirects his attention to the stage and finds himself overcome with jealousy. If only he had met these dudes sooner! Then it would be him onstage; then he would be hanging out with Nick and Jacob all the time. He may not dress as “well” as this drummer (?), but he’s a better player. He wishes there was a way to tell them this. How do you orchestrate someone else overhearing your drumming?
She ain’t arrived yet, but she hasn’t departed
yet, no, she’s gonna take her sweet time.
But suddenly everything is dashed -- the singer finally reveals himself onstage, and Bill is stunned to realize it’s someone he recognizes, and it seems so obvious now: the only person he can think of with a face as angelic as this voice. A divine sneer is across his mouth, his eyes drooping and euphoric -- it’s Dreamboat Shitface, the bully from outside the cafeteria.
Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Spencer Savard.
This Spencer Savard begins to sing a series of “oohs” and “aahs” in an escalating falsetto, each note more gorgeous and implausible than the last. The audience breaks into cheers. Spencer looks out at the crowd, smiling. “God is a dick,” Bill thinks sullenly.
The rest of the show is as impressive, though somewhat confounding. As soon as the band finishes its first song it seems to shift gears altogether. Their next song involves harmonies and hand claps, the instruments stripped of their reverb and pitched into hard, dry clarity. After that they rock out, the shitface proving he can scream as well as he sings. They move from one mood to the next like a drunken storyteller forgetting the next plot twist and so making one up, with just enough charisma to keep the story captivating. Somewhat drunk and stoned himself, Bill perceives the music to be pushing against the limits of his understanding, and in this revelation he feels empowered and intrigued, like there is something to be found in the void before him.
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