Thursday, October 1, 2009

Facing the Music

Tomorrow marks the beginning of an annual Big Deal in Austin. Every year there is a three day music festival in Zilker Park called the Austin City Limits Music Festival. I went, courtesy of my staff, one day last year primarily so I could see the Foo Fighters (who were awesome, by the way). They pooled together to get me the pass for my birthday. I was overwhelmed. I cried when they presented it to me.

In general, it is hot still in Austin in early October and dusty, really dusty, down on the hard, dry turf of the south Austin park it is held in. People come armed with bandannas to wear over their faces to shield themselves from the dust, unsuccessfully I might add. But, the music is more than worth it. There are acts all day long on, as I recall, five different stages, culminating with the major acts to close the evening. But, the day time acts aren't half bad, including names like Iron and Wine (last year), the Yeah Yeah Yeah's, Bon Iver, Coheed and Cambria, Phoenix, well - you get the picture. It's huge. I met people from all over last year. I went by myself, but that wasn't a problem because the great advantage to being an only child of older parents is that doing things on my own is a normal function. But, I went decked in a combination of Obama for President and Steeler gear, and by virtue of my wardrobe, I was not lacking for friends. So, the only problem was Kelsey. She was not happy I went to see the band she introduced me to (although I had taken her to a Foo Fighters concert twice before) without her. Her revenge: she had a three day pass this year. She was very excited. Music was always a balm for her. And she had a wide variety of tastes. It made my head spin really, but it showed the many facets of her personality. She listened to everything from God Awful Metal (which is not an actual brand of Metal, but should be) like The Sword to Sigur Ross and Andrew Bird, Justin Timberlake and Jay-Z. She had an appreciation for classical and loved to go with my to the symphony, but then listened to stuff like "Circle of Demons" (yeah, I have no idea...) She lived her life, as I had raised her to do, with a constant soundtrack playing in the background. Her wide variety of tastes and knowledge was actually something she took pride in and, although I don't think she knew it, I was proud of her for. She could be snobbish about her musical knowledge and tastes, which was off-putting, but it was true that there wasn't really an act worth noting that she didn't know about and usually in great detail. She often spotted up and coming talent, would call our attention to them and then, as they gained the national recognition that she predicted they would, she would deem them to be sell-outs and forsake them. I would sigh and continue to listening to them regardless. But, bottom line is, a festival like this one was custom made for a person like my daughter, and here it is being held in her very own home town.

Nonetheless, I had forgotten all about her supposed attendance as I've been listening to nothing but radio chatter about it for weeks now. For some reason, something tonight made me realize it. I don't know why. I mean, I was watching the West Virginia-Colorado game for crying out loud. But, there it was. The fact of it. How excited she was that she had that opportunity, followed by my runaway imagination of how excited she would be tonight in preparation for it. She would no doubt be making us totally crazy, as she could do, by chattering away incessantly, trying to impress us with her knowledge of music and the acts she would be seeing. We would probably try and nod in the appropriate places while trying to actually pay more attention to the game. That aspect of her personality could come off as haughty and was hard to take, even for us, so the best way to endure was just to pay only cursory attention. Now, I am faced with the hollow silence of the house. Even the sound of the game, rather exciting in and of itself because neither team can seem to maintain possession of the football, cannot drown out the lack of her voice and her footfalls scurrying around getting ready. I have this aching vision of her excited face, the little shine in her eyes, the spring in her step, despite how sick as she was all the time. I cannot describe the pain to you that this vision, this very crisp vision, is to me. But, now that I have it, I think the next three days are going to be hard to endure. I think, despite the excitement of having Dave Grohl back in town to promote his side project, I will be curling up with the dogs and trying to think about anything and everything but music and what is going on under my very nose. I want to remember ACL as the great gift the most awesome staff in the world gave to me a year ago as opposed to the missing spectator from this year's festival. Now. can I do it?

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