City Lights

I’m sitting at Café Mundi on the Eastside, seeing a show when the whole place goes dark. A line of thunderstorms is dropping out of the hill country bringing a fair dose of wind, lightning and mayhem. Suddenly jerked from an experience of musical immersion into a whole different reality. Like flipping a switch.

A darkened city is an interesting thing to behold. You jam so many of us into one place – there’s a certain kind of madness to it. A narrow band of societal norms and municipal amenities hold us back and allow us to coexist right on top of each other. In the dark, a piece of that’s gone. City blocks black as wilderness, lit only by cars headlights and the spectre-like glow from downtown. In the absence of the shackles of propriety that the light bulb provides people are nervous. Everyone leaves, citing the weather as the culprit. Dogs to attend to. Homes to save.

To his credit, Andy continues his set anyways, which is pretty impressive for a guy who makes most of his music by singing over a playback loop. The wind starts throwing the rain into the porch area of the coffeshop, taking wild potshots at the windows. I stand there just watching the trees get pounded by the wind as the last stragglers flee to their cars, their homes (or for a few back to the music – a different and comforting world in it’s own right). Cold Canadian air swirls and alternates with its balmy Gulf cousins to creating a confusing, exciting medium, like traveling to a different place while standing still.

Then its over. Some quirk in the way the city sits at the base of the Hill Country means the storms never seem to hit us for too long. The moment is past. The lights are back on. The show is finished.