gwen (gwenix) wrote,
gwen
gwenix

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Juxtaposition

I at first was going to post a fluffy review for the people who
wanted one of the concert in my JournaLite, saying "It was as
energetic as anticipated! Everyone was so good!" etc etc etc, and
while that's true, something hit me during VNV Nation. So, I post
to both, since this has also become a more important posting.

To explain the phenomenon, I have to start at the beginning of my
day.

At 6am, I awoke to a thunderstorm. I was cocooned in my sleeping
bag, sleeping on many comfy layers of bedding I accumulated with
the absence of Sarah and Alex. I looked up, and saw that it was
just first light, I knew what time that meant, since every morning
we go for our last smoke at work at 6am. I was comfy, but I couldn't
sleep anymore, so I got out of the sleeping bag, awakened completely
being confronted with the cold air, and packed up everything inside
the tent. As it was still raining, I left it there to go to the
bathroom.

Coming back from the bathroom, I wandered over to the fire to see
if it managed to survive the heavy rains all night. And while
there were still minimal coals left, they really weren't enough to
just put more logs on to restart... so I remade a starting fire
(first try) and wandered back into the dry pavilion to start
breakfast.

Breakfast involved removing all of the food bins from the car,
opening the back hatch again (and dumping all the water that had
accumulated on the tarps strung between the back of the car and
the pavillion), and setting up the stove for boiling drinking water.

I returned to the fire while the water was heating up, it'd died
down again as expected, so I restarted the fire (second try). I
returned to the water, but it wasn't boiling yet, so I pulled out
a Capri Sun, ate a few advil for the migraine pounding in my head,
and wandered over to Ray's tent to start waking him up (it's now
7am).

Return to fire, try one more thing to see if it's going to start
at all without drastic measures (such as lighter fluid), then I
returned to the pavillion to sit and wait for the migraine to
subside. As I sit there, I start reconsolidating the storage bins
we have so that packing the car more efficiently is an easy trick.

Water is boiling, I make tea and oatmeal. I wander over to the
fire and realize it actually took this time, so I put down the
grate, put more distilled water in the drinking water pot, put that
on the fire for Ray to use when he wakes up. Then I wander to the
shitty water faucet supplied by the campground, fill the dish
washing pot, and put that on the grate to start the process of
triple boiling it.

I pick up my oatmeal, wander back over to Ray's tent (it's now
7:40), and mention oatmeal. I get minimal cursings at me, so I
return to the chores. I realize it's not raining at this immediate
moment, so I go back to my tent (after quickly inhaling my oatmeal),
and fetch all of the gear from inside -- down sleeping bags are
bad when wet, so bringing them to the car between rain spells is
good. Then I empty the backend of all the leftover gear and pile
of firewood.

It's now 8am, I turn on VNV Nation and tell Ray of coffee products.
He finally awakes.

More of the same all morning; by 11am, we have the two tents and
pavillions taken down, and the backend of the car repacked as
efficiently as it possibly could be. We sit and enjoy the fire
and the view for half an hour, quietly, then dump water on the
fire, removed all of our garbage from the site, offered the leftover
firewood to the couple across the way, and take off.

This is how camping is. I love it, it's constant negotiating with
nature, constant maintenance of basic things we normally take for
granted, and absolutely spectacular settings. I grew up doing this
as a daily routine for much of my childhood life; only toss in
often it being either a temporary stop on the road to our destination,
or after we've packed all the gear and food up a large mountain to
get to our campsite.

I guess we were hippies in the strictest sense, too. I mean, being
a geologist's daughter, I learned from day one about environmentalism
and *exactly* all of the effects various things has on the ecology.
I've never really given up that philosophy and view; but I've not
always paid attention to it, either. In fact, it's been the past
few years I've really returned to a lot of my youthful beliefs.

We drove back five hours. Well, more precisely, I drove back 5
hours, getting in at 4:30.. I got home at 5 after dropping off Ray
and his equipment. Then I washed the stink from me, and immediately
had to try to psych myself up (and get dressed) for the concert.
I really have been looking forward to it, but I nearly dumped
because of exhaustion (realize I packed and drove when I'm normally
sleeping). But I went. I knew it'd be too good to miss.

At the show, everyone was there. Everyone I've known as a part of
the goth scene these past five, six, or more years. Hell, even
old LARPer buddies were there (and thanking me for introducing them
to this music, heh). I in sleep dep happy mode flung myself at
them all enjoying their presence. I am thoroughly no longer in
Granola Gwen mode anymore, and while the switch hits hard, it's
not painful.

Thou Shalt Not hit the stage. Now, realize I road tripped across
the country with their guitar player (Jeremy), and talk with Alex
(the lead singer and heart of the band) fairly regularly at clubs,
parties, and on the IRC Channel. I know they're good, and I consider
them friends. Now... Alex gets on stage with this ... outfit.
PVC pants, and a plethora of belts strapping his chest. Now, the
belts were really cool, but the pants left nothing to the imagination
when he turned sideways. I joked about "MY GOD! ALEX'S PACKAGE!
HA!" to entertain everyone, and they are by and large. The
performance itself was absolutely marvelous, as expected, I'm up
and about and enjoying it immensely, Dee and I dancing to the cover
of "Shout!", Alex is full of stage presence and hopping about, the
music is tight, energetic, and the crowd responds very well.

Their set is long, but they finally end and come back into our area
to hang out... When Alex comes up to me, I am standing on the step
above him, so when I point down to his outfit, I'm pointing vaguely
at his crotch as well. I say, "That.. is amazing," as I point,
full double entendre intended. Alex unwittingly responds, "$5 at
Goodwill!" having no concept of the dual context. I am HIGHLY
amused. :)

Haujobb is up now. And Daniel Myer is probably the best modern
EBM musician out there; plus he can turn *any* audience into a
small personal concert with his joking and his touch with the
audience. This is not to say it's a small show, however.. his set
is every bit as energetic as I remembered with him jumping, running,
and dancing around the stage constantly. I danced until my feet
turned blue, and danced some more until he left the stage.

Then there was a long pause while VNV Nation got their stage setup
as they required. Meanwhile, everyone talked amongst themselves,
this is probably the largest gathering of the g/i scene in a very
long time, so a lot of old friends are seeing each other once again.
I, however, am dead tired now. I fell asleep on the table until
Ray poked me awake, then I fell asleep on Ray. "I'm never going
to make it through VNV Nation," I sadly think. I start to plan
leaving after the first couple songs.

Then VNV Nation comes on stage. Now, let me explain them. They
pretty much are a drum machine, a drum pad player, and a singer
who knows about four notes, and sings with fairly mediocre lyrics
(though sometimes getting something good out -- realize that mediocre
lyrics in the EBM world is OUTSTANDING as well). Almost all of
their repertoire is remixed one song; I can only take their recorded
stuff in small doses, honestly, in fact I pretty much have four
songs of theirs I ever listen to. But... on stage, they turn into
a dynamo, and they impart energy into the crowd making a huge
whirlwind of controlled freneticism.

Ok, how does this happen? Well, realize that the singer is singing
rhythmically -- he's essentially another drum, only a vocal one.
Anyone who knows drum circles knows that drums playing off one
another is one of the best ways to evoke primal forces out of
people. You dance, you bounce, you feel good. Really, VNV Nation
live is a Rave, just with the audience largely dressed in black.
And they're very good at this.

I start dancing again, I can't help it. All the exhaustion from
minutes prior is gone, and I'm whipping myself around like I haven't
done in a very long time. I'm thoroughly enjoying this. Then they
get to one song that's slower, and on the video screens (that were
showing images, mostly of their album logos, the entire show),
factories are spewing out smoke. Pittsburgh knows this sight well.
In front of the factories, text starts sprawling.. it's actually
standard environmental cliches about deforestation and CO/CO2
levels, figures I've known well most of my life. Cliches.

But it stopped me dead. I mean, I know the CO/CO2 shite is bunk.
Look, we live on a planet that cycles its CO2 levels, and its ozone
layer. It's INCREDIBLY egotistical of Man to assume that he can
effect those cycles any more than negligibly. The deforestation
is another matter -- that we do have a serious problem about. But,
unfortunately, politics are such that it's insanely difficult to
remedy this situation. Anyway... it stops me dead because I know
all of this. Because I was just in the forest that morning.
Because I'd been thinking about it all weekend, being in the
environment I'm used to hearing about it all.

My goth life, the path that I took that led me away from all I
sought growing up, and my granola life, the path I once thought
I'd pursue as a career, came clashing together in one huge force,
and I felt it. Then they played Dark Angel, which is the song I
most strongly associate with my time in SF (in fact, this is the
song I played as I left my place for the final time, watching the
sun set over the Pacific one last time, and I sobbed).

"I only came here, seeking peace.
I only came here, seeking me.
It seems I came to leave."

I went to SF to get away from the path I'd gone down... I didn't
like what I was becoming, it wasn't me. In SF, I refound a lot of
me, I was camping, hiking, biking, skiing again. I was spending
time out doors and loving it again. But I wasn't losing myself in
it, I was melding it with the self I'd been becoming... I left SF
finally reconciled between the two poles in my life. The evidence
for that is today where I am very comfortable going from the middle
of nowhere to an industrial-heavy concert.

I spent the rest of the concert still dancing, or sitting to let
my feet rest while bopping in the seat, but I was much more
contemplative about it. And I think this is a good thing for me
now. I can be hit with stuff that has deep personal meaning to
me; and I can come out of it feeling very good about what I'm doing
about that. Three years ago, this sort of thing probably would
have sent me into depression.

I got my peace, I got myself back. I left, but I left better off
than when I started. For this I am very grateful.
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