New York Part 3

Saying yes to the concert on night one set the stage for what was to come.  Long days followed by longer nights. Constant movement, coffee, alcohol, minimal sleep. Rinse and repeat. It was a bender. It was New York. There was no slowing down.

Another whiskey? Well of course. The stale bar began to blur; the darts landed further and further from their target. In hindsight, a brilliant metaphor.

Was that the same night we popped into the jazz club, or the night after? I don’t think they liked us there.

On night four we struck up conversation with some girls standing nearby. They seemed fun, but I quickly learned they were from Florida – which is to say, the only thing we had in common was our shameful presence at the bar. I was handed another Negroni, and focused my attention to a girl wearing stripes. She had blue eyes I could’ve stared into for eternity. Feeling more confident than usual, I approached her and gave it a go. I can’t recall what was said, but I remember thinking the conversation ended too quickly.

(revisit New York Part 2 – in which Jab searches for lust) 

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Outside Lands

“They’re going up by the inflatable squid.”

It wasn’t until D-Man shouted this that I actually took stock of our surroundings. The squid? That tiny fucking squid way up there? It seemed a mile away, within the heart of chaos and excess. I figured we’d lose those two for the rest of the night. “Meet at the empanada stand if you get lost”, we had said earlier.

The scene was grander than I had imagined – more people, bigger stages. The only other time I was in a confluence of energy so giant was Munich, six years ago.

Odesza was impressive. It was what it needed to be. In a way, they delivered what I expected them to – positivity, movement, energy – and it was fulfilling. Seeing them was long overdue.

The shirtless guy, however? The nutcase chugging wine, doing brainless sketches with his bandmates between songs? Even with flowebrother’s insight, I wasn’t prepared for Mac DeMarco. He was a maniac. A carefree goon. An accidental superstar. I wasn’t witnessing a polished band play for a paycheck, I was watching a crew of pals – jokesters – simply making music and having fun. Bravo, Mac, bravo.


Day Two brought sunshine, and with it, steadily flowing beer. When we gathered the motivation to leave the backyard and head to the park, we arrived to the experimental sounds of Bon Iver. It wasn’t the vibe we desired – too calming. Give us something to move to.

We found it at Jamie xx. Mesmerizing, intense and unpredictable, he wasn’t there to cater to the casual fan; he was there to craft a genuine DJ set. He played songs I’d never heard; songs that made the crowd uncomfortable; songs that gave me flashbacks to warehouses in southern Spain.  He did not play two of his biggest hits. As daylight faded and darkness took over, he turned the crowd into a frenzy, and I loved it. Charley didn’t quite get it. Sam was a goner. Everybody was doing something.


It’s a surreal feeling to see a performer after they’ve only previously existed ever so frequently within your headphones.  Since I first learned about Tash Sultana, she has captivated me. Her energy, her spirit, her flare. I saw her come alive on that final afternoon, and she did not disappoint. As the sun set – physically on the evening, metaphorically on the festival – we tapped our feet to the vibes. It was tribal, passionate, authentic.

I never even saw the damn empanada stand.

The Case for Not Knowing

I’ve been wrestling with an idea for a while now and can’t shake it. Our lives have become detached from unbiased experiences.

Yelp tells us if we should expect a good meal, Rotten Tomatoes dictates our viewing choices, Airbnb photo galleries are the basis of lodging selection, dating apps remove any mystery around meeting someone, and Instagram gives us utopian expectations of vacation destinations long before we step on the plane. The list goes on.

Put simply, we actively avoid going into things blindly. And this is a problem. Our bodies and minds need elements of the unexpected and unprejudiced; of this I am certain. Without them, how do we stay sharp. How do we remain curious. How do we feel alive.

Think on this, and dive blindly into the sounds of Volta Jazz. Let it take you wherever it takes you.

Volta h/t Tommy

Long Days & Loud Music

“Well are you excited?”  This was Maine, said by everyone. My responses were affirmative, but always with a bit of unintentional hesitance. There were still some major pieces of the puzzle to fall in place, and things had come together too quickly to really grasp. I couldn’t help but sound uncertain.

But then there I was, packing Old Blue to the brim with clothes, shoes, skis, camping gear, and saying a hard goodbye to my parents. The excitement of the road ahead hit me; it was Go time.

**

“I’m so glad to know that you exist.”  This was Chicago, said by Harry’s girlfriend. Apparently for years the two of them had a running joke that my existence was fabricated – that I was a cover up for him to chat on the phone with another girl rather than an old friend. She was delighted to be proven wrong.

Illinois, Iowa, and Nebraska blend together for a long, flat, and unchanging few days. The general perception of Middle America is not wrong – the landscape is boring, and the air smells like manure; and yet, there is beauty to be found in sepia-tone cornfields under a late summer glow.

**

“I don’t know if you’ll reach California today, son.”  This was Utah, said by a hefty fellow named Glenn. I looked around the waiting room and wondered how long I’d be stuck there. Blue was hurting, and I couldn’t continue until she got checked out. On the bright side, I was surprised I made it as far as Utah without the car sputtering. It almost felt required that this would happen.

Seven hours and one painful invoice later, I zoomed through the mesmerizing Bonneville salt flats and the Nevada desert. I was delayed, but thankful to get the auto work done. The music got louder and the speed limits higher; all eyes were on the final state ahead.

**

“Well, welcome to California!”  This was Truckee, said by the woman behind the counter, inquiring about my East-coast license plates. The state border had snuck up on me, and before I knew it I was pulling over for coffee, surrounded by the majestic Sierras.

It was now, finally in the air of my new state, that I could reflect on it all: the past six months, the whirlwind of September – during which I slept in fifteen different locations, the Boston chapter behind me and the California chapter ahead.

I suddenly wished I could go back to everyone who had asked if I was excited.

Hell yeah I was excited.

**

 

Tash Sultana

Every time I start up Spotify I’m introduced to a new artist. Some good, some bad; some to add to a playlist, others forgettable.  Then there are those that make you stop everything because it is something entirely different. Who is this person? Where are they from?  What’s their story?

I want to tell you about Tash Sultana. She’s a 22 year old Australian with an incredible story, and we’re already late to the game.

**

At 15 years old she started playing on the streets of Melbourne after school and on the weekends. On any given day she could’ve been performing one of the ten instruments she taught herself how to play. Fast forward some years, and she’s battling a year-long episode of psychosis thanks to a bad mushroom trip. She misses school for months, loses 35 pounds, but it was music that kept her from losing her mind.  Then, last year, she creates Jungle, posts it on YouTube and she’s a star.

Her Tiny Desk Concert is time well spent.  Not only is it remarkable to see her musical talent (looping all of her sounds), but Tash performing is nothing short of mesmerizing.

The last song

It was nearing the end of the night. Two more songs maybe? Just one? Ben looked around and could tell everyone was getting anxious to wrap it up and move onwards to their parties, their open houses…their freedom.

“Alright everyone, last song of the night. You know what that means..find that special someone one last time. Class of 2016, this is for you!”  Was it possible for the DJs at these dances not to sound corny?

Ben’s eyes flickered frantically around the dim room. His heart rate picked up. The time had come. In his mind, he’d put himself in this exact moment countless times. It was his last shot to impress her, to make a statement, to look into her eyes.  There was no afterparty for Ben. There was no next opportunity.  After tonight was a summer of lethargic boredom and the foreboding unknowns of college.

Where was she?

There. Her yellow dress caught his eye. She was laughing with a friend.  The colorful lights of the dance floor shimmered in her eyes; those eyes that first grabbed Ben’s attention sophomore year. He smiled.

Ben took a deep breath, walked over to her, and put his hand on her shoulder. She turned.

May I have this dance?