So in honour of our very own, homegrown music festival, The Christchurch Music Festival, this week’s post is part one of a festival-inspired story, in which I’ve plumbed the depths of my early festival and concert going experiences. The story concludes with part 2, next weekend…
We are waiting. Mickey elbows Dylan and stumbles to his feet, mumbling something incoherent. I glance at Shona. She is wearing her habitual expression of puppy dog longing. ‘Take me!’ it says.
Dylan shrugs before shambling off after Mickey. He calls over his shoulder, ‘I’ll bring us back some chips’, then he’s gone, plunged into the throng that’s gathered for this year’s headliners ‘Continuum’, whose gear is just being set up.
Shona looks at me pink faced. She leans forward and grips my arm. ‘Maz-has Dylan said anything about Mickey and me?’
I don’t want this. I don’t want another ‘does Mickey care about me?’ discussion.
On stage, the roadies are threading cables around the platform and repositioning parts of drum kit. I take a bottle of sun lotion from my bag and unscrew the top, squirt a little on to my finger, inhaling the coconut smell as I spread it over my forearms. I offer the bottle to her. ‘You should cover up, Shona,’ I warn her, ‘the sun is stronger than you think.’
With her fair skin and white blond hair she could burn in a rainstorm, but she shakes her head. ‘Tell me’, she pleads. ‘What’s Mickey said about me?’
I’m scanning the surrounding crowd now for Dylan’s large, reassuring bulk to reappear with the chips and it’s getting tricky keeping this space with standing, jostling fans closing in around us. How will Dylan and Mickey find us? The ‘Metallica’ T-shirt they tied to Shona’s umbrella as a marker is submerged and in a moment I’m going to surrender to claustrophobia so I get to my feet like everyone else. I lean down to her.
‘Can we talk about this later, Shona? We need to pick our stuff up and get ready for Continuum. If we hold up the umbrella the boys will see it.’
Shona didn’t come for Continuum. On the train she’d played no part in the argument about which of their two albums was better or whether the new bass player was any good. She hadn’t joined in with any of the songs and had admitted to not owning any of the band’s music. Shona is here because of Mickey. Mickey is barely aware of her existence.
She is up at last and I can pull the rug up, roll it and stuff it in my bag. I turn to her. ‘Look!’ I shout, ‘the announcer is on stage. They must be ready to come on! Where have those boys got to?’ I squeeze the T-shirt clad umbrella under my arm and stand on tiptoes, straining to see above the mass of bodies.
‘Maz’ she persists. ‘What do you think I should do?’
I want to swat her like an irritating fly now and I’m mad at Mickey for leaving her with me. ‘What do you mean, ‘do’? Just enjoy the band, Shona, like everyone else. It’s what we came for.’
But she is not to be distracted. ‘You and Dylan,’ she says, her voice raised to a plaintive squeak above the burgeoning excitement of the fans, ‘You’re so good together. I want that for Mickey and me. I want us to be a proper couple like you are.’
I turn to her. ‘Shona, Dylan and I aren’t a ‘couple’. We’re just mates hanging out until we go to uni. We get on ok, that’s all.’
She stumbles a bit, jostled by fans behind her and turns to throw them a furious look. ‘All I want is Mickey. I want him to marry me.’
I stare at her. How can she be so deluded?
‘Continuum’ concludes next week. Check into ‘Anecdotage’ to finish reading the story.