last night seemed a little stranger than usual, not in a bad way, but just slightly askew, like a wider lens, it felt like watching a movie. too subtle to mention, but as we crossed the train tracks to get to the venue... i dont know, it amplified.
the story of dex romweber i have romanced and swooned over for years, but when you talk to most people, even the kids digging new "nth" resurrection of garage they have no clue who he is. i guess thats what i romance, the tragedy of someone so unique and talented being as unappreciated as they are, granted, hes not unknown, and he makes his living as a musician. its just, in my opinion, every show he plays should be sold out, they should be making any kid that touches a guitar go see him play. and its been like this for him since his first band, the flat duo jets, when fucking r.e.m. beat them out as the number one up and coming southern band of the 80s, seriously? also, watching jack white blatantly rip this guy off and become a millionaire from it just sucks, but at least he kinda admits it.
as we approached the venue, outside were friends, smoking, chatting, whathaveyou. i said my hellos and chatted a bit with the no tomorrow boys, then went to sit down. the bench my friends were sitting on had an open spot towards the end. as i sat down i looked at the man next to me. it was dex. he looked at me through his sunglasses and gave me a nod, i nodded back and cooly crossed my legs just absolutely freaking out on the inside. i thought about saying something to him, but just couldnt, afterall, what are you supposed to say to someone like dex romweber. "you're cool", "i like the music you make.", "heres my email. we should hang out sometime." ugh. i just sat there, not really conversing, but just listening to others and watching dex out of the corner of my eye. it was so strange, no one talked to him, no one looked at him. he just sat there for about ten minutes smoking cigarettes, he wasnt listening to conversations, everyone would laugh and he would just sit there stoically, he was in his own world. we didnt matter, to him we werent there and to everyone else, he wasnt either.
he left and people started going inside. we soon followed. after that experience, whatever that energy was, some of it latched onto me. i wasnt really in the mood to talk, but just observe. i got a drink at the bar mostly knowing that i needed to be a bit more extroverted than i was feeling. i drank away from the crowd looking at the stage and the equipment of the first band.
the no tomorrow boys began, and even though im friends with them, ill be honest... theyre pretty good. i dont think its been a full year since they started. line-up changes, and figuring out eachother are things new bands deal with, and they are. but the thing that comes to mind when i think of them is "moxy". they got moxy and plenty of it and i feel thats one of the most important things a new band can have. the drums are tough as nails swag, guitars are just dirty enough, and dannys voice, no matter the volume, has a shrill that always sounds like the speakers about to go. musically, theyre pretty corpses personified, looking like bastard sons of link wray, trying too hard is trying just hard enough. closing out with a switchblade as a slide on the guitar, total nerds on the subject of being cool. ive seen them a few times, now, and each time im more impressed.
after a couple more bands (dumb), a couple more smokes, and a couple more whathaveyous later, i still felt weird. i just couldnt shake it. i walked back up to the table my friends were sitting at and again, the only spot open to sit was right next to dex romweber, talking to another group of people. i sat down and barely paid attention to my friends. listening to dexs conversation. it was kinda awkward. the other people talking about the last time they seen him play. he was polite but still quite stoic. their conversation died and there me and dex sat. i decided to say something this time, our talk went something like this:
"i dont really know what im suppose to say to someone like you but i just wanted to tell you i appreciate you and your music very much. not that it matters what i..."
"you know, its not like that, im not special, i have homicidal thoughts just like everyone else.
"kyle." we shake hands. "yeah, i think i do the homicial, suicidal pact thing everyday... well, i just thought id letcha know you mean a lot to me, thank you."
"well, i should go, looks like were about to be on."
"nice meeting you."
it was surreal, i felt like i was dragging him back to earth from wherever he was, every sentence he said had a strange pause to it like he was floating back to wherever and then coming back down.
we went to the stage area, and finally, the dex romeweber duo started! i stood in awe as they played. staring open mouthed, going back and forth between dex, and the drummer, sarah, dexs sister. honestly, sarah, blew me away. and i feel almost ashamed that i never paid that much attention to her, and i consider dex unappreciated. they were evenly matched, if she would have played with anyone else, she would stole the show. every bit of influence dex put in a piece, she matched it spot on, be it, surf, garage, 60s instumental, tiki rock, early rocknroll, blues, gospel. she nailed it, perfectly. preferring tom fills over snare, she was just as unique as dex. i want to try to explain this properly, every bit of toughness and strength that came out of those drums were hers. clearly, she only took in older influences and as they channelled through her you got something so raw and powerful. ive never felt so captivated by a drummer. she is the best drummer ive ever seen.
and then dex, he had an old beat up amp, not some classic vox or silvertone. just some shit box that looked like it was from the late 80s. no pedals at all. and a beat up old silvertone guitar. he was getting more tones and energy from that set up, it was just, impossible. ive never watched a guitar players right hand before. but he was moving it everywhere to get the exact sound he wanted. he knew that guitar and he knew exactly how to get what he wanted out of it. no one else will ever sound like him, because his sound is himself.
his voice was incredible too, making faces that looked like he was exercising demons. it truly was a great show. highlites for me, "brazil", and "grey skies". the whole thing was incredible though.
almost immediately after they finished playing, dex came up to me and asked for my lighter. he went outside and i, along with two others, misha and stella, followed. i reached out my hand to ask for my lighter back, before i could say anything he shook it and said "kyle, nice to see you again." i very awkwardly asked for my lighter and told him good show.
i found myself for the third time sitting next to dex, watching him. saying nothing. i, briefly being in conversations with friends, he briefly being in conversations with fans. after our smoke my friends and i went inside to see the boys in the band and find out their plans for the night. they were in the green room, well it was actually all red, with graffiti everywhere and a bench against each wall. we were bullshitting, making plans, throwing switchblades as they were packing up. and then dex came in.
he sat down, said nothing. briefly talked to the boys. told danny he had a bitchin shirt on. and asked for my lighter again. the boys left and misha, stella and i just sat on one bench as he sat on the other. we played with a chinese finger trap for a little bit and proceeded to have a 45 minute to an hour conversation with dex romweber about love, death, time and space, coffee, god, ptsd, other planes of existence. it was intense. luckily, for him misha and stella are great people to talk to, cause mostly, i just listened. im still trying to wrap my head around him and that conversation. i guess thats why im writing this. it was so, unique, to be sitting there with him wearing his sunglasses, smoking cigarettes, in an all red room. it felt like a movie or as he would probably put it. a dream. the strangest part was how earnest he was. ive never experienced anything like that and ive never experienced anyone like him. i feel like i got something out of that night, but i still am not sure what it is.
at one point the tour manager of the band snapped a picture of us talking, later that night we found out that apparently he and sarah (the drummer), were in awe that he was talking to people, i guess he typically just signs a couple autographs and leaves. they took the picture as proof.
maybe im just looking into it too much, though, if anything, i feel its a story to share.