I left around two to pick up Hayleigh from her house, which is about eight minutes or so from mine. Once I picked her up, we went straight onto 1604 and then to I-35 to get to Austin. San Antonio to Austin is typically a ninety minute drive, but I think that going up and back we made really good time, which is something that has never happened to me on that commute.
On the way up Hayleigh and I just talked and listened to music, it was a really nice drive up with no close calls or accidents or anything. I played only Noah and the Whale on the radio, and I tried to teach her the basics about the band. I told her the differences between the albums, my favorite songs, the effect the girl had on the music, the importance of the violin, and the ways to tell from what album a song comes. She was getting good at guessing them right, but we started talking more and eventually turned down the music and just talked.
When we got to Austin I parked at the 6th and Lamar area, which is maybe my favorite area of Austin. To get there we exited I-35 and drove through 6th street, looking for the venue. Its name is The Parish, and as far as location goes, it has one of the best spots on all of 6th street. I guess that depends on what you consider great, though. It was right in the thick of the bar scene, closer to I-35 than to Lamar, and there were at least two concerts going on right next to it.
Anyway, I parked in front of 24 Diner, because I knew that’s where we were going to eat, but it was only three-thirty at the time. So, I showed Hayleigh around the 6th and Lamar area, because like I said, it’s one of my favorite places in Austin, and I have spent a lot of time there with family, friends, and alone. I was a little worried that my truck would get towed because there was a sign in the 24 parking lot that said “for customers of (whatever the name of the area is) only.” We were customers for about an hour and a half, but my truck was safe there both before and after we were customers, because I left it there so we could walk to the concert. Moral of the story: your vehicles are safe if left parked in that parking lot.
After we parked at 24, we went into Waterlook Records, which is literally right next door. We went there mostly because I had to use the bathroom emergency-level bad, but also because it’s a cool Austin store, and we were going to a concert later that night after all. Hayleigh isn’t big into music though, so she didn’t appreciate it as much as I did, but she was a really good sport about the whole thing. I suppose that’s sort a theme in an event like this. The concert is my favorite band, we visited my favorite part of town, and looked at my favorite stores; it would be hard for her to enjoy the whole thing as much as I did–in fact–I’d be nonplussed if she did, but, she did the next best thing and was really nice about it, and focused on enjoying time with me and enjoying the fact that these things made me happy. Which rocked.
After a brief stint in Waterloo, we crossed the street and went into the original Whole Foods. Whole Foods is a big ordeal for me, because I have something to say about every product in the store –some good things, some bad. We walked into WF and just started walking around, from the prepared food section, back around the bread to the fish, to the milk and the produce, then towards the front. When we went through the bulk aisle, I realized that they sold wheatberries here so I bought some (see H.E.B.!). Then I figured, what the heck, and just started grocery shopping. After wheatberries I bought honey mustard and shampoo. There is no better name for what I did than “impulse buy,” but that’s life, and I did need wheatberries and honey mustard. We spent a lot of time there, her just asking me questions and me loving to answer questions about organic food. Hayleigh is very good in that way.
After that we walked across 6th street to get to R.E.I., one of my favorite places to walk in and ridicule. The prices are ludicrous, and their marketing schtick is getting rich, white people (really just rich people), to convince themselves that they need more outdoors gear for the three days they camp a year. Don’t get me wrong though, if you are a serious outdoorsman, R.E.I. is the place to go. It is also the place to go if you’re a faux outdoorsman, and I see a lot more of those in R.E.I. We looked at Chacos and dehydrated food so I could show Hayleigh the flavor (Savory Vegetables) that gave everyone diarrhea at when I backpacked in Weimenuche last summer.
We left R.E.I. and went next door to Book People, one of my all-time favorite stores. The employees there must pass some sort of “you must be this happy, helpful, intelligent, well-read, and kind” test to work there–they rule. Case and point: Hayleigh and I went upstairs and I briefly mentioned Dean Karnazes, the (more or less) founder of ultra-marathoning. Then boom–an employee sprung out of nowhere to take us to his books. Not only that, but she talked to us about running, about Dean, about her goal of running a 100k in January, about ourselves, about the topics of the stories, Dean’s diet, and Austin. She rocked. We didn’t buy the books but did look around a lot and take some pictures of books that I will soon send in texts to people to whom the picture will be apropos in some way (do not worry about the ambiguity of that sentence, you will know what I mean if I send you a text).
After Book People it was about five twenty, so I took Hayleigh to an awesome pedestrian bridge that goes over Lake Travis. I wanted to see if the Art Project Piano was still on the bridge, but either that project is done or someone stole the piano. Either way, we walked over the bridge while a bunch of people rowed and kayaked under us, ran behind us, biked around us, and sat next to us. We got a shady spot and sat looking at the amazing graffitti and the river. It was awesome.
Then, I was hungry (Hayleigh never is) and so we went back to 24. My truck was still there (!) and so I ate with a clear conscience. I got a vegetarian po-boy, even though 24 is one of the few places where I will eat the meat because they say they serve organic and I trust them. Hayleigh got a turkey club that was really good, but it took awhile for our food. So long, in fact, that the manager brought us a free appetizer of our choice. I chose deviled eggs. I had forgotten that I don’t really like deviled eggs. I have since remembered. Our food showed up, and it was cool because we didn’t even notice the “long delay” in the first place. It was super tasty, but their deserts didn’t sound good, so we rolled at around 7:45.
There I made the tough decision to roll the dice and leave my truck in the parking lot, a decision that I did not regret! We walked to the Parish, which was probably about a mile and half away, but the walk was really nice, and we both wanted to take our time and enjoy the evening and atmosphere. We stopped to get an energy drink (my pre-concert tradition) and sat down right next to the line at the door of The Parish. We went inside and walked to the top floor (3rd) and sat down in the venue with everyone else. It was a small place, about the size of a classroom or so, but obviously, because of the size, completely packed.
The first band that played was called The Bahamas. They were a lead singer/guitarist/reason the band was a band, two female backup singers, and a disspirited drummer. Their music was very mellow and almost reggae, and just overall pleasent. Not really memorable, but the lead-singer was funny, and the drummer had some interesting tricks. The worst part was that for the last song they tried to get us to sing along, but they did about as bad of a job of explaining what we were supposed to say, as anyone could. They ended at about 9:30.
Noah and the Whale came on in dramatic fashion at 10:00, picked up their instruments, and started playing one of my three favorite songs. I cannot think of a much better start to a concert than that. After playing “Shape of My Heart,” they introduced themselves and the band, and then began playing virtually non-stop till 11:45. They would play one song from their new album (ehh) and then one song from one of their first two albums. They played almost every one of my favorite songs, but sadly, the girl that left the band plays a major role in some of my favorites, and so they did not perform those. They did replace her on a few songs, but it was obvious, even if you did not know what had happened with her departure, that those songs sounded unnatural.
So, they switched back and forth, and some of the 3rd album songs are good (around three I’d say) and so occasionally I would be very happy when I heard three songs I loved, played in a row (old (good), new (good), old (good). The lead singer played with little energy, but a lot of emotion. He didn’t galavant around the stage like the violinist, but he really craned his neck into the mic, and sang loudly and warbly. He proved to me that playing music loudly isn’t always the best way to affect someone with a song. When they did the “romantic” part of the set, which was basically just sad songs from the 2nd album, I was blown away. The lead singer was so into the performance, and the violinist absolutely created the mood with his weepy violin.
Still though, the party songs were probably the best. The lead singer put on an acoustic guitar and the violinist started hopping around stage, and I swear it was the most fun music to dance to I’ve ever heard. The energy from the violinist and the crowd made everyone hop and drum their arms, and I was just smiling and dancing like a fool the whole time. Awesome.
The “last” (I knew there would be an encore) song they played was called “The First Days of Spring,” which is an incredible, incredible song, especially if they were to hypothetically end on it. It is mostly instrumental, led by the violin. It builds and builds, joining with the guitar and drums, and builds and builds, and then there is singing, and the violin and guitar start dueling melodically, and the violin builds more and more and gets louder than the guitar that is trying to keep up and the tympanum is getting louder and louder and more and more –then–it explodes. The song just climaxes in this brilliant trumpet sounding noise, and then ends. And they walk out and the concert is over.
But then they walk right back on because everyone knew they would do an encore. The played “Old Joy,” which is a prelude to their new song “L.I.F.E.G.O.E.S.O.N.” (annoying to type). It is probably the best one off their new album, so good –but not one of my favorites. Had I had the choice between ending on L.I.F.E.G.O.E.S.O.N. (annoying) or “The First Days of Spring,” I would have definitely chosen the latter. Anyway, then I went to see the merchandise that was overpriced and we left!
We joked a lot on the walk back to the truck, and then thank God it was still there (!)!. I got some drank from 24 Diner, and we departed into the night. On the drive back it was a lot of windows down, NatW up, heads-on-shoulders, drinking up the night. It was an amazing ride home. Then, I dropped Hayleigh off at her house, said our extended goodnights, and then rolled to ma crib, where I had some soup because I was famished. I watched TV in the end room to decompress, but never got really tired. I was thinking I would just fall asleep ont the couch, but never got that sleepy. So, I ended up falling asleep in my own bed, reflecting on an amazing day.