2008: It’s absolutely freezing tonight as Katie and I walk back on aching feet to the car parked way to far away. We don’t notice the chill because we’re overheated from dancing. I’m cursing myself for wearing these shoes. Katie’s giggling away at my blushing face. “If only I’d gotten that camera out in time! You were dancing so hard!” I can’t even respond. I’m in shock. The only thing I can focus on are the orange lights in the car. There were a lot of orange lights that night. “You’re really quiet Jordan.” “Huh? Oh. Yeah. Sorry. I’m just a bit..overwhelmed.” “I would be too if I had danced onstage with Pylon during my first ever 40 Watt show.” I just bowed my head a bit and smiled. I think I’m in love with this band.
The drive up to Athens was rather uneventful as far as long drives go. I had predetermined my playlist the day before and was rocking out to some new bootlegs I’d received from another Pylon fan. It was wild hearing the very show I was at, where I got pulled onstage. I thought I felt my feet ache at the memory of how much dancing there was. I made it to a stoplight near the 10 Loop and probably looked like a loon to the elderly couple next to my car. I don’t care. I’m in the mood for dancing.
I found a nice and cozy space to park the car and headed towards the 40 Watt. We have a lot of work to do. Balloons, buttons, and, of course, pylons. The door was still closed but a few members of Flash to Bang Time were already in the parking lot unloading various things. After a few brief introductions, we begin carrying all the odds and ends to the front of the Watt, praying that someone would open it soon so we could get out of the heat.
Our wish soon came true as our bicycle-riding savior opened the doors. More lifting and lugging of stuffs. A few more people began to drift in from the other bands. And soon enough, TUNABUNNY! YAY! I was absolutely thrilled that they were playing tonight. We did the little jump and hug thing and began to chat about what songs they were about to do. As that conversation was winding down, Michael and Maureen came in with quite a bit for us to do. Five of us were assigned to the button assembly line.
Pouch, card, button, button, button, seal. Over and over again. For three hundred times. It probably didn’t help that “California” was stuck in my head. I mentioned this to the lady next to me who was sealing the button pouches and putting them away. Her name was Cathy. And boy, did she know some stuff about Athens in the 80s. She ought to. She lived it!
The button brigade took longer than we thought. By the time we were through, other people were already blowing up the balloons. Paul was arranging the screen and dvd for the Pylon footage and Michael was setting up his dj stuff. So Cathy and her friend Dolores and I went to Trapeze for coffee. It was absolutely fascinating for me to hear their stories about living in 169 and 170 Barber and all the interesting things that happened then. A bit of talk about Trestle politics, the 11:11 Klub, A.P.T…it was great. We also discussed wave theory, and much to Cathy’s dismay, we placed her firmly in the third wave of Athens music. Sorry!
We returned to the Watt to find everything done for the night. It was about 7 p.m. and we were getting hungry so we headed to a mexican place downtown. More phenomenal stories were told, including some that I have been sworn never to repeat until after the teller’s death. Darnit. There goes my bestselling tell-all. We talked about Randy a bit, how we found out about his passing. It was quite touching when we realized that part of the news had been distributed by this very blog. It made a difference. Wow.
Conversation drifted towards happier, and in some cases, downright hilarious, episodes. Our meal was done but we still had time to kill. Where to head? Off to Wuxtry of course! I’m poking around some local vinyl while Cathy’s telling me different stories about each one. The most random discovery comes from a record marked “R.E.M. is Air Supply.” Now THAT is a tale all to itself. Purchases made, we trot back towards the Watt, looking for mints to ward off the coffee/burrito breath.
We step back into Trapeze when we run into none other than Ort! The magical creature was celebrating his own birthday and began to strike up a very long conversation about this one beer company that uses this particular symbol and so on and so forth. I stepped aside to talk to a friend of mine who wanted to introduce me to someone. When I got back, we headed to the Watt with Ort promising to be right on our heels sometime around 1.
“Do you want to go onstage with us?” asked a Tunabunny. (I think it was Chloe!)
“Come sing with us!”
“Uh, what song?”
“Do you have the lyrics?”
And thus began my mad scramble to remember the lyrics to “Human Body.” I knew I knew the song but something about singing it in front of the people that wrote it intimidates the snot out of me. While the bunnies were getting all tuned up, I ran over to Caledonia to seek some sage advice from Gordon.
“I don’t want to screw this up Gordon!”
“Do it! This is what Athens is about man. Just gettin up there and having fun.”
So I went back to the Watt, found a lyric sheet, and then proceeded to write the chorus on the palm and back of my hand. It’s times like these I really wish I drank. Oh well, time to dance silly while stone cold sober. It felt great. The last time I was on this stage, I was dancing with Pylon. I looked out over the crowd towards the doors, having a bit of a flashback while yelping different verses about wearing safety shoes. I THINK I can show my face again. Thanks for the invite Tunabunny! It was fun!
Slightly starry-eyed, I wandered around talking until the picture show. Turns out there was a documentary of Pylon. I call it “Adventures in K-Mart.” The kids were running around the store, picking up various items and tossing them around, playing with this, ignoring that. It was very sweet and a bit saccharine. Like watching someone’s home movies. Every time Randy appeared, I just had to smile sadly and wonder if he was liking the party so far.
Next was Everybody Everybody. Just a singer, drums, and a bass. Intense. The light from a projector kept flickering and bouncing off the singer as she gyrated and screamed away into the mic. Some weird kung-fu dance movie was playing beside them. I was highly amused. And the Gold Party put on a great show after that. I was a bit busy talking to a friend to pay as much attention as I should have. I know, shame on me. But I think we all noticed the tight pants. Yes. Very, very tight pants…
The most touching moment of the night came when Vanessa, Curtis, and Michael took the stage between two acts. If you hadn’t felt the impact of Randy’s absence, you did then. I clutched my drink tighter. With a very calm voice, Michael discussed the RANDY t-shirts for sale that benefit Nuci’s Space along with plans to release “Chomp” again on the same date as Vanessa and Randy’s new project release “Waves.”
Eventually, Flash to Bang Time took the stage. They played a few upbeat songs that I’ve heard them play before and then suddenly, something very familiar. The other Linda joined them onstage for the last songs of the night. “When I first heard this song, I cried,” she said. I closed my eyes and jumped onto the floor.
You’re funny and you don’t know why
You’re funny and you can’t even cry
You’re funny and you don’t know why
You’re funny and you don’t even try
Cause your head is shaking
cause your arms are shaking and your feet are shaking
cause the earth is shaking
We danced. HARD. All of us. I knew very well that this could be the last time I heard Crazy live. For a few glorious moments, we’re all in synch. It’s not a few twenty somethings and people who could be their parents’ ages, or those who grew up with Pylon versus those who didn’t. Just us. Friends and family of Randy, dancing the night away in honor of him.
The music faded; the balloons disappeared in the hands of the revelers, leaving a path of pink in the wake of a hot Athens night. I hugged Michael for a very long time, glad to have made it up for a time like this. As we walked back to the car, I couldn’t help but think about the times I’ve had with Pylon and their music. The joy, the energy, and on one night at WUOG, a bit of sadness. The night I fell in love with Athens, the night I got the setlist, and the night that Pylon became my favorite band.
But for the first time since that day in February, I cranked up Gyrate in my car. And finally, everything is cool.