Writer’s Block 3
Erin Cartwright
Night Life Montage
Christina Marie Drake
The nightlife in downtown San Diego is always busy. This, however, was much busier than usual. The fifth annual “Apollo Festival” was taking place and that meant EVERYTHING was bigger, better, and brighter for the occasion.
I was only in town for the festival itself, which celebrated music artists across the genres to create a sense of community, and it was working. This year San Diego hosted 35 different venues each with at least one stage of five artists! Obviously “Rusted Wagon” had folk/country singers while “Raquette” had some techno/electrica groups, but that just made navigation easier. Being from Australia, this was quite the change. I mean, sure, work had brought me to The States numerous times, but this was my first time working for Corinth records at the “Apollo Festival.”
I remember how it felt when I stepped into the warm San Diego air. I was already late to “Static” nightclub, and I’m sure the CEO of Corinth, California Native Carrah Drash, wouldn’t be pleased to know I was late to our first gig. I arrived, hurried to check in bands, and thankfully our entire line-up was there.
I checked the bill for the evening’s show, not once or twice, but three times. I started dealing per diems to the tour managers, collecting the guest lists, signing contracts and making sure every demand of the artists was met. I busied myself. Granted I looked stellar, but I don’t think my make-up could hold much longer.
“Katy! Sound CHECK!” the tech yelled from the booth.
“I’m on it, Mayn.” I replied. I scuttled in my heels across the venue. “Famous, Breathe, Stars” I read down the bill. “Spill, Attack, Pierce, let’s sound check, Men!” I
yelled. The rock stars unfolded themselves like vampires from various areas of the room. Legs began to stretch like spiders as the boys gathered their gear. I looked at them all on stage and one at a time checked their appearance, their stature, their presence, their sense of command, their engagement, and obviously their sound.
As late as I was, the night ran on smoothly. I had fifteen extra minutes to kill until the show doors opened. It was at this point I felt someone tap my shoulder, “Hey, Kate?”
“It’s Katy.” I replied to the tall thin band boy who had touched me. I recognized him, though not entirely. I knew he was in a band signed to Corinth, though which one I was not so sure.
“Sorry, Katy, look I broke my strings and I’ll need new ones and I need them stretched and tuned before we play.
I stared in disbelief. “You’re telling me no one has strings for your guitar and you need ME to get you new ones? Really? Who’s your tech? I cannot believe this.” The boy’s face was getting flushed, and I knew he was already on edge.
He opened his mouth to speak and another shadow behind him spoke. “Brother, excuse me. Miss Katy, Mark has broken his strings, this much is true. I know there’s a little music shop around the corner. I’ll have Kline, our tech, bring strings, don’t worry about it. Thanks for your willingness to help, though.”
He smiled. I couldn’t believe how gorgeous his teeth were. All identical in size: Extra-large, like horse-teeth large. Yet they were stark white against his deep olive skin. If I didn’t work in this industry and know how these types of boys are, I would dare to call him breathtaking. He stood 6’3” with an athletic, thin body. His jeans, to no surprise, were exceptionally tight and dark. A studded belt hung sideways from his hips and (again, no surprise) his charcoal Chuck Taylor high tops were strung up tightly.
He spoke again, his voice with the same fluidity as before, “ I don’t think we’ve met. I’m Valentine, I sing in Attack the Reckless.”
I shook his hand firmly, “I’m Katy, the Corinth PM and rep. Nice to meet you. Thanks for getting Mark’s strings.” I tried to steady my breathing. His palms were warm and my fingers felt electric.
“No problem, anything to do for my brosef.”
I knew my look was saying “I’m sorry, what?” just as my mouth did.
“Brosef, it’s native for, like, brother.” I nodded understanding before excusing myself to the doors, which were now two minutes from opening.
The show went on as it always should. I checked in guests, collected tickets, made merchandise rounds, all as the first acts played. Famous Fights was a terrible bunch of teens who couldn’t be more like NSYNC from 2000. I shook my head at that performance. Breathe Artica was second, their sound was as cold as their name, but they seemed to be a big hit. It was now that I too was dancing a bit in the back of the room. SolarityinStars was third on the bill. They were one of my all-time favorite bands and so this for me was a real treat. I watched with excitement and enjoyed the placebic wave of the 14-20–year-old crowd. I enjoyed Spill the Scene and knew instantly why Carrah had Corinth sign them after their “Myspace.com blowup.”
Then the crowd fell silent again. I paid no attention and reached for my drink across the bar. It was electric blue, and sweet I remember. The organ slammed into the venue and I watched the four boys run on stage. The tall much-too-thin brother Mark took to his guitar, a shaggy haired surfer-looking guy snagged drumsticks shirtless, the “teen favorite” Jaceon took to an all-black-and-silver bass that matched his hair dye and then, last but not least . . .
My drink got caught in my throat. Valentine glided onto the stage. His ratty hooded sweatshirt was gone now to reveal a fitted V-neck tee. The black, grey, and light blue stripes laying horizontally across his chest did his arms and back exceptional justice. “He could be my Valentine,” I thought with regret. The first two songs were inviting, exciting, and interesting. I couldn’t help but stare at the rich green gems that were Valentine’s eyes. I felt like a teen wishing he was singing to me. The third song in the set began as Valentine’s unique voice said “This, Ladies and Gentlemen, is for that very special someone you love, and my love is here tonight! So let’s do this! It’s called ‘Bulletproof Beauty.’”
I felt my heart sink. Gah, all the good ones are always taken! The chords started, the crowd slowed and I turned back to the bar. I tried to grab the bartender but he just jerked his head to the stage with a look that read “hello, you dumb bitch!”
Whatever. I turned empty glass in hand toward Attack the Reckless again. The chorus of “Bulletproof Beauty” was about to kick in and I dropped my glass, seeing that Valentine’s eyes were not locked on some blonde California Bimbo in a corner, but me. Mark hit the guitar strings hard, Jaceon was singing backup vocals, and in one simultaneous blast the earth both fell still and swelled. I ran a seductive hand through my hair as it was tousled by an unseen wind, I could feel the lapping of the red and silver city that lay outside, I felt nothing short of beautiful, nothing short of perfect, and nothing short of stupid. No band boy was ever worth getting this twitterpatted about. Yet there was something about this Valentine that was so enticing.
The song ended, the room quit spinning, the wind stopped blowing, the sticky venue feel (and smell) returned, the pinks and silvers, reds and golds, faded from my vision of the scene and everything went back to normal. Just as I’m sure my night would after Valentine left my head and ears.