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    You don’t see her at first, but once you do, you won’t be able to take your eyes off her. You are distracted just now; the drummer’s onstage, smacking one drum at a time, like he’s doing a sound check, until he’s not doing a sound check, and the bass comes in on a backing track. You don’t see her, but you hear her voice, bright and clear as an icicle, and then something flashes through the forest of arms gathered before the stage, something glints like a cigarette lighter through the throng of knees, that voice lighting up the dark room, and then she’s there, rising from the great body made up of your body and all the others, for your communion here has birthed a star, a golden star in a gold-sequined jacket, a star with white-hot skin and hair that could be a solar flare, hair the color of a bold Cabernet spilled into the Nevada desert, hair a red that begs metaphors to mix, because one alone cannot capture it, buzzed as it is on the sides, coiffed into a pompadour, rising now from the darkness and taking the stage.

    My Brightest Diamond, indeed.

    One singer, one drummer, one huge departure from the cavalcade of musicians appearing on My Brightest Diamond’s records. So front-woman Shara Worden didn’t bring a marching band. No one much cares about that as she wriggles like an ermine rolling on molly, the bassist-less bass booming from the amps, deadening your left ear or your right ear or both, depending on where you are standing. You could be up front with the boy in short shorts and what might have been a tank top before it was shredded, bouncing along with the single earring dangling from his ear, or you might be swaying behind him by the two boys locked in one another’s arms, or you might be shining for a moment in the center of the crowd with all those nerdy eyeglasses when the squadron of stage lights swivels its legion eyes like mad over the crowd, or you might be a little farther back, beneath the bombing of glitter some jackass just released, though we’ll forgive them, won’t we, we’ll forgive them and keep dancing because this has become a holy place. You’ve been checked with a metal detecting wand that probably did little more than wave a fleeting sense of security over your body, and you are hanging on to that, which is to say: You are letting go, because this pulsing, this brightness, this union kinetic is still worth something, is worth too much to give up out of fear, even in a time of so much goddamn fear, and by the time Worden has sung the lullaby she wrote her son and the banger that follows, by the time she’s let go of your ears like an old friend about to move far, far away, somewhere that will appreciate the postmodern pop opera gestating in every pitch she sings, you are both exhausted and excited, beat and ready to beat someone up; you are a tangle of angry snakes that hate each other and love each other, for there is space here for your wrongness, there is space here to be a contradiction, there is space here to let go of how you scan a room before uttering the right pronouns for your lovers, how you’ve been taught to see your body, how you code switch to keep yourself palatable and anemic and something like safe. Yes, you feel safe here, and so it doesn’t matter that you don’t get the chance to say something to Jim James when you spot him standing in the corner, arms crossed over the black vest he’s wearing with no shirt, and it doesn’t matter that the bartender doesn’t know how to make your favorite drink, and it doesn’t matter that, when Tune-Yards finally takes the stage and everyone loses their fucking minds, there’s only three musicians onstage, drums and bass and vocals, no pair of saxes, just a backing track.

    Watching the show is drinking a mug of fire. Watching the show is breathing water. Watching the show is becoming one tumbling fractal in a kaleidoscope. Before you remember who you are it’s almost over, Merrill Garbus is singing, What’s the bizness, yeah? Don’t take my life away, don’t take my life away. You can all sing it and you all do and you all really, really seem to mean it, because that is exactly what They want to do, They outside these sound-hallowed walls, They behind their parapets, They in the board rooms and in the bunkers and on all the sidewalks in all the cities and pretty much everywhere, They in the big white buildings with Ionic columns. Like Garbus, you can smell the blood in Their voice, because it’s the blood in your voice, isn’t it, and you’re trying to sing it all out. Don’t take my life away, don’t take my life away — you’re screaming it, everyone’s screaming it, the show’s almost over and you want it loud at the end, loud like a birth, because here’s proof, two-something minutes of proof — don’t take my life away, don’t take my life away — that They haven’t. 

     

    Cover photo courtesy of Facebook

     

    Dylon Jones's picture

    About Dylon Jones

    Dylon Jones is an award-winning poet and essayist based in Louisville, Kentucky, where he serves as web editor of Louisville Magazine.

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