Claudia Sherman

Even though you may not have meant to, you will stay in the bar after the show. Even before that the greasy Euro bouncer will say to you: "Be good, sweetheart."

But that won't be until after.

First you will go to see Arab Strap, one of your favourite bands in the Scottish and/or Canadian lo-fi cynic tradition1, and you'll be met there by a friend from home who is an extra in the movies you'll work on next week. She'll be lost in the parking structure for a while but then she will meet you at the bar, just like always. You will order another vodka gimlet and she will order her first beer, because her stomach is unsettled, and you will smoke outside and (unbeknownst to you) the lighter you borrow will belong to one of the Radar Brothers, who will be the opening band. You will realise this later. But while you are borrowing it, he will look frightened.

You'll stumble back inside and into the main staging area and you'll find a table upstairs that is neither dim nor well-lit, and you won't be able to see the stage either but you've heard from the über-emo kid at the will-call window that Arab Strap doesn't go on until 11:30pm, so you settle in to wait, while the Extra looks at the menu aimlessly.

You will be joined by another friend, a middle-aged Hungarian music critic, and he'll be sociable in a slightly creepy way, and will buy drinks for you and the Extra, and while he is retrieving said drinks you will lean over and tell the Extra that that is why you socialize with mostly European men.2

And so the Hungarian will come back with the drinks, and the Extra will settle back with a fleck of beer-foam on the corner of her lip, and Languis will come on stage, and in your notebook you will scrawl, blackly, such phrases as inverse Reading Rainbow and feral, controlled, mechanic, defiant and cicadas and crickets: cyclical: like seasons and rounds of ammo. You will quietly classify those two boys as nouveau-Kraftwerk-cum-Subterranean-Nintendo-level sounding. Only crunchier.

Between sets the Extra will ask if you have another pen and she will begin to write as well, and the Hungarian will loom loomingly, and you will order another drink, and will feel really drunk for the next two hours.

They will say "Okay... we're the Radar Brothers" when they come onstage and you will compare them mentally, instantly, to Grandaddy and Mercury Rev and all other plaintive post-c&w indie bands, despite bad rhymes and thwarted harmony and misplaced chords, and you will scribble a lyric, just so: "For a while, you'll have to kill for food." The Hungarian will lean over and ask you how you like his voice (the singer's, not the Hungarian's) and you will tell him the above. The bassist, from whom you borrowed a lighter previously, is wearing a green t-shirt with a clever motto.

When they leave the stage you will sway out onto the smoker's deck (the sort LA specializes in, and of which you've seen too many, and which you mentally have christened 'the smO-K Corral' for their herd-mammal quality) and smoke your last cigarette, which is a Dunhill Blue.

You will go back inside. You will wedge yourself to the extreme southwest of the stage as Arab Strap's members stagger on with beers3 in hand. "It's our last night on tour, so stay after and we'll go fucking mental" is what you'll decipher through the brogue and your alcohol-fuzzy hearing4. Aidan will sing and will be bearded and for once the beard will not seem beardy-weirdy but will seem cool, and you will think "Bless him, he is Scottish, with a beard, drinking beers, wearing plaid" although you hate oppressive stereotypes, etc. You will note the following things:

1. The guys at the show will be indie, but not mod-indie. More like Smog fans.

2. The girls in the front half of the crowd will be without exception short, glasses-ed, and plain. Not even Lisa-Loeb-like: more like aging gymnasts: stunted and puddingy. You will, by comparison, feel better about your appearance, and then you will be angry with yourself because of it.

3. You will be in love with Aidan (or could be, if circumstance allowed) for reasons which you will not want to explain.

Arab Strap will play, and will sound cathedral and crescendo and... and... sob-like, in a good way. You will scrawl the following adjectives hurriedly: unassuming epic wan thunderous misunderstood bitter weighty drunk grimacing inventive punchy wry heavy thunderous5 despairing hopeful. You will swoon, basically, because it will be a fucking awesome show.

They will play two encores but before then the Extra will leave, as she's shooting a commercial at 7am in Van Nuys, and the Hungarian will leave, because he's tired, and only you will stay. You will stay out of drunkenness and love and obsession and oddity.

They will leave the stage faux-angrily, but you will refresh your drink and sit at a table. Lying in wait.

You will, for a while, watch roadies doing post-show roadie-like things, such as jumping to tap spotlights of varying height, and wrapping cords around and around their forearms. You will be hit upon two (2) times, boringly, and will decide to hang out in the bar.

You will sit in a vinyl booth and begin to draw the lyrics to the new Nick Cave album and a shadow will fall over you and you'll look up and it'll be Aidan, bearded and bearded. You will close your notebook and stand up.

And that will be your first mistake.

You may enquire after Claudia's general salubrious/lugubriousness at claudiasherman@hotmail.com. She'll be building character in L.A.* until spring, quand elle part pour l'ecosse, anti-bowdlerizing, anti-bowdlerizing.

* That's what her daddy, Mr. Gary Sherman, calls 'suffering'.

1 Sample lyric: "I can't make boasts about my body/The workmanship is somewhat shoddy/Sometimes I overwork my gob/Can't buy you gifts, I've got no job."
2 At this point you will receive voice mail from one of the other Europeans, a Spaniard, but your phone will be turned off and at any rate you don't want to speak to this particular Spaniard, as the Spaniard nurtures unwarranted fantasies of green cards and calls you 'pretty-cat-eyes' whenever you see him. And though you may immodestly admit that yes, you do have very pretty blue-green eyes, and that they are catlike under their Bardot-load of liquid liner, you don't much like cats, and anyways the Spaniard is way too chauvinistic to deal with on a daily basisa.
    a (Here you will also, uncharitably, assign him the mental nickname of "green-card retard".)
3 You will make a black box in your tan notebook that says 'FYI: Here's where it gets messy' and later you will realise how true it is.
4 Which phenomenon you will later christen 'beermuffs'.
5 You will indeed write thunderous twice, either for underscoring or because you're drunk.