Creative Nonfiction

She slumped down in the little Sigma, which was parked on the main road right out the front of the venue. The car had seen better days. It was a sun-worn red, it stank of cigarettes long smoked, and it was always only about half-filled with fuel. But it still had spoilers and mags and went red. Red goes faster. 

But not when you're trying to get changed and the line for the show is just outside the car window.

She gave up being discreet and took off her work shirt, bra out for the world to see. It was soon covered by a band shirt. Not the shirt of the band playing tonight. Some other band. It's not like she was here in the guise of a fan.

'This is so freaking difficult,' she grated to the long-haired blonde who was calmly munching his way through a yiros and gazing out the window. 'Always such a rush.'

'Calm down,' he said. 'We've got heaps of time.' 

'Easy for you to say,' she retorted, tossing her clothes onto the back seat and rummaging around in her bag for makeup. Finally finding what she was after, she took a moment to take a breath before touching up her face appropriately. The last thing she needed was eyeliner smooshed across her face, and nowhere to wash it off and start again.

Getting out of work on time had been difficult. It was a long day. It began before dawn. It ended just on sunset. And it wasn't over yet; the second part of the day was just beginning. The show would go until midnight. Then there were notes to decipher, comments to recall, a vibe to convey. It was just as well that she lived with a photographer whose gig was going to be to sit up for the entire night, selecting, running post, sequencing and submitting.

It sounded like such a glorious life: *Music journalist*. If only people knew how fucking hard the work was. Rushed, tiring, underpaid or never paid. Trolls online. Death threats from bands' girlfriends when a review didn't go well.

Makeup finished, she slumped back in her seat and sighed. Ate a soggy chip. Looked at her watch. 

'Ok, let's do it.'

They bailed out of the car, locked it. Walked up the steps to the venue's entrance, printed authorisation in hand. 

'Good evening!' the middle-aged door lady greeted them. 'You on tonight are you?'

'Should be!' our girl laughed. 'If Rod's done his job right.' She handed over the verification.

'Jasmine plus one,' the door lady murmured. Scanned the list. Pointed. 'Yep, here y'are.' She put a line through a name on her list, stamped both wrists, added an age-verification paper bracelet so they could buy drinks, and waved them in.

The venue was already full. Squwarks of guitar strings, random notes, and isolated drum beats issued from the stage. The support act was warming up. Tonight there'd be three support acts before the main event.

'Fucking hell, *three* supports?' Jasmine sighed to her partner. 'Who decided that was a good idea on a school night?'.

Plus One shrugged. 'No time for a drink it looks like.' He nodded towards the stage; the band was assembling itself and the vocalist was about to say something inane. 'Better go grab a spot.'

They ambled into the room, greeting people they knew along the way. One of them was a fellow journalist, someone who never had a notebook or a pen and who was perpetually drunk.

For the next half-hour, and then the next three half-hours, and then the main event itself, Jasmine stood in a central rear location, near the mixing desk. It was always the spot with the best sound. Too close to the front and you lose the high-end. Too far to the side, all you hear is one half of what's broadcasting, gets bassy, fuzzy. It made sense that the best sound was almost right where the sound engineer sat. Jasmine scribbed notes. Random comments from stage. Mostly song names. In between times, she drank beer, talked to people she knew. Excused herself to go to the loo to write impressions in the stinky peace.

Plus One shot three songs, no flash, of each band. His night was easy in comparison: Totally at liberty to socialise, smoke, drink, have fun. In between the start of each set, anyway.

The rigours of the day melted off Jasmine as she worked. By the end of the night, a bit drunk, filled with the rhythm of live music and the energy of a crowd, she was exhiliarated.

As security shuffled them out at the end of the night, Jasmine began mentally sequencing the show in her head. Thought of angles for her review. Began categorising what was good, what was not so good, and why the second support ought to give up. They were terrible.

An elbow in the side interrupted her. She looked up. It was the guitarist from the second support act.

'Saw ya making notes,' he grinned. 'Journo are ya?' He leered down at her. He was off his tits. If he were any more drunk his eyes would be located on different sides of his head.

Jasmine raised an eyebrow, smiled. 'Something like that.'

'It'ssshhh only coss you carn play anythink,' he said. 'Wishhhh you could be an art, art, artissshht and all ya got is tha'.' He waved his hand, lurched through the door as they reached it. 'Write whatever you want, darl, we dohnnn give a fhark. At leasssht we're playin'.

Plus One caught Jasmine's eye as the guitarist lurched away. He could see that it had hit her. Hard. 

'Ignore him,' he said, throwing an arm over her shoulders. 'It takes real talent to write a good critique. Why are you bothered?'

Jasmine shrugged off Plus One's arm, fished her car keys out of her pocket. 'Because on some level he's right,' she stated pedantically. 'If I was any good as an artist myself, I wouldn't be spending my nights writing *this* for free.'

April 09, 2022 04:24

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