the first & only & last Bite Splint show that never happened

concert crowd
Photo by john crozier on Unsplash

it’s a recurring dream. a weekend warrior tour or a debut show, hard to tell. regardless, it’s recurring wishful dreaming, i.e., in which all my friends are there, in which we packed the venue out, elbow-to-tattooed-elbow. sometimes there’s no one in the crowd when i’m the vocalist. i shriek into the mic tangled around my forearm like a gauntlet of snakes. we’re playing a floor show in this one—a basement or a warehouse or some punk’s parent’s toolshed. in another, the screaming doesn’t seem to have music in the background. maybe my subconscious is warning me of tinnitus.

i like to think we sound good, the mannequin band & me. they’re like faceless Amish dolls but in black metal shirts. barnacles on bass strings. sea foam drum kit, splintered ride cymbal. i grab Brian by the collar, spit frantic syllables into his face. he’s drunk with a smile. i don’t even know the words in the dream, but i do. i don’t. they don’t. the notes are right, we’re turning our ribs into cities, & at least one dude in a Cannibal Corpse zip-up is dancing, Pabst Blue Ribbon aloft.

often i’m sketched with charcoal & plaster. i stomp around. i encircle & scoff. i trust my subconscious is angry at the right thing.

genderfucked, working class, & still motherless. (we play “Mongrel” by Cult Leader—feedback swirl like glints of amber.)

catharsis of blood on anvil. (someone shouts, “play ‘Free Bird!’” from beyond the darkness. it’s probably just another version of me, heckling us on. i’m not surprised at myself, to be honest.)

there’s a politik of struggle in my voice, because i don’t like the word rage, because i don’t like the word punk. YOU’RE NO FUCKIN PUNK—me from another dream spouts. i feel like me & they would make good friends. we’re all here for the same thing, after all.

by the end of the set, the walls & cement underneath me are illustrated with two-stepping & sweat. i’m kneeling on the ground as if to a god or the crowd, but when i sing in real life i close my eyes. maybe that’s the point: that no song needs to be a prayer for me to believe in something. there could be no one around me, no one who moshes, no one with an ounce of care for our band. there might not even be a band behind me when the lights cut out. just one person there is enough to keep me playing. even if it’s just me.

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