Sometimes you want to be, as Thomas Gray so eloquently put it, "far from the madding crowd's ignoble strife." This is exactly how I felt as, against my quasi-agoraphobic intuition, I walked into the Make-Out Room to see San Francisco's Cotton Candy this spring. Feeling friendless, dateless, lifeless, and down after a huge blowout with an old friend of mine, and unable to procure a warm body to fill up my plus one, I walked into the dark club only to be reminded by the smattering of plastic beads and silly hats and feather boas that it was Mardi Gras.
Feeling the need for some kind of psychic security blanket, I stopped at the bar. I probably should've ordered a double bourbon, but I just wanted something in my hand, you know. Like, "Hey, look, I've got a beverage." I may not have beads, but I am enjoying myself like a motherfucker. I got a Coke and shuffle-stepped my crotchety, dejected ass over to the darkest, most uninhabited corner and sat down behind some sort of homemade percussion wingding — a two-by-four with a bunch of metal crap nailed to it — and did my best Greta Garbo "I vant to be alone" impression.
Almost immediately someone found me, dressed entirely in black in a dark club. Sometimes, you're just lucky like that. I don't have many people I don't want to see. Usually if you've been in my life long enough for me to know your name, I'm always glad to invite you back. But this was someone I had a crush on, long ago in some other reality, and I think she kind of made me look like a buffoon. More likely, I made myself look like a buffoon, and she turned the screw a little, wound up the buffoon box, and let it go, careful to hold at least some of her laughter until I was out of the room. And now here she was, in the dark on Fat Tuesday, asking me about my personal life. There must have been something on my face that said, "I love to chitchat."
Phat blues day
My cover blown, I grabbed my chair and slid in a few rows back from the stage, under the disco ball, as Cotton Candy set up. I'd seen them before, at least once, and I knew that if any band was going to cheer me up, they might be the one. Actually, it's a stretch to call them a band at all. I think once you include a marimba player, you are officially not a band. Maybe you're an ensemble. At the very least they're a quartet. In addition to Matt Cannon on the marimba, they have an upright bass player, Tom Edler, who uses a bow most of the time, the lovely Linda Robertson on accordion and violin, and Heidi Kooy, who can really only be described as a chanteuse. The ladies were bedecked in full-length Easter Parade dresses, though somewhat less flouncy, Kooy's a gauzy pale yellow, topped with a putf8um Veronica Lake wig, and Robertson's a bright blue. They looked like a Victorian engraving delicately splashed with watercolors. They calmly began playing an instrumental number, with the seated Kooy tinkling gracefully on a sort of laptop xylophone.