I turned in my last paper today for Anthro to Professor Patton. It was not my best work. I’m thoroughly exhausted. We opened for the Samples at the Starlight in Fort Collins and it changed my life.
Our little garage band is now “Doppler Circus,” formerly known as “Tiny Yellow Ducks” formally known as “Not Eric” formally known as “Mary Sister Reload.” I got the call from Tom (Drummer) when I got home from recording keyboards on my own demo at Skyline. On the voice message, Tom said “We got the gig opening for The Samples and the guys are all in. See you Saturday night.”
I rode to the gig with Jeff (guitarist) whose squareness brought out the cooky side of me. I sang silly songs in British accents along to the radio most of the journey. We arrived close to 5 pm. Just in time to hurry up and wait (as is often the case with sound checks). Venues want you to be on time and imagine (rightly so) that since you’re an artist you’ll be late. So they schedule their sound guy to come in 3 hours after they’ve told you to be there and thus, the colloquialism all bands are familiar with, “hurry up and wait.”
Wendy Woo randomly showed up and we talked about the tracks on my record while The Samples sound checked. It was a warm night. The club was medium-sized with an indelible patchouli scent that had no apparent source. I was watching the buzz of bartenders tapping fresh kegs and listening to musicians test mics with the tried and true “Mic check 1, 2. Testing 1. 2. 1. 2.”
Suddenly I heard a voice that came from somewhere deep inside me. It said, “This is just the beginning.” But of what? I’m not sure. Opening for The Samples? Doppler Circus on the road? My own musical career? Whatever it was, I couldn’t wait. I felt confident and strong.
We sound-checked with “In My Mind,” and our audience began to file in.
Sean, The Sample’s lead singer, asked if I’d join him for a song during their set. I got out my guitar in the dark red light of the stale green room. We did tequila shots and drew sharks and parrots on the walls and Sean suggested we do a Neil Yong song “Old Man.” Of course, I knew all the harmonies.
“You look like your dad,” he told me “Your eyes are like waterlilies and I’m falling into them.” He said drunkenly while his girlfriend rolled her eyes and got up from his armrest. “Will you open every gig for us this tour?” He asked.
“I’d love to. I’ll ask the guys.” I did and of course… they declined. “If the Samples won’t pay our gas, it’s not worth it man!“ said Dave (insert eye roll here).
When Doppler Circus was introduced at 9:30 I dove into the spotlight first “Hey everybody, we’re Doppler Circus and we’re going to play some tunes before you experience The Samples.” As Tom counted off “Weaving The Tomb” I felt my feet ground like roots into the stage. I felt electricity flood my body. I wasn’t sure I’d be able to fully direct my energy into the mic but when I opened my mouth my voice shot out as clear as a laser beam. I felt like the limb of some giant ancestral tree branching a new bough out into time and space and I knew that the music had me, more than I had the music. I let it flow through me. My black floor-length polyester dress struggled to hold the universe in my lungs, in my chest.
I thought. Before launching into “F#” another Doppler Circus original, I said “You all having fun?” and the coagulated crowd roared their consent. “OK, we’re gonna play a couple more and it’d be cool if you all danced”. The crowd laughed and one guy toward the back, shrouded in darkness shouted “If we could move!?!”
At the end of our set, I shouted “You guys want to hear one more?”
“Yeah!” The room responded.
“Ok, Twist my arm. We’re Doppler Circus from Boulder. If you want, there’s a live performance recording of us in the back! Good night!” and we finished up with “Not Eric” a song we wrote as a band in the middle of an identity crisis. But while that crisis might continue in that chilly, cavernous garage back in North Boulder, as we evacuated The Starlight spotlight and re-entered the sea of faces below stage level, my personal crisis was over. I knew who I was. I was not Not Eric or Tinny Yellow Ducks or even Doppler Circus. I was Sally Taylor and I was branching out on my own.