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There is really a man named Chester Gwazda and he is really on stage playing a mean guitar.  His shirt seems somehow obscene but when you look closer you can’t figure out why.  There are two words written in as many rows and they look like Turkish or jibberish or, as it turns out, code:  EIICY POCR.  I find myself saying the letters out loud, pausing in different places, hoping that the mystery can be solved aurally.  It cannot.

My hubby A. and I are here to see Dan Deacon, or so our ticket says, but our anticipation for the opening act is almost as palpable as that for the headliner.  Deacon is such a thinker, such a funnyman, such a natural leader who emits such a positive and raunchy vibe that it’s hard not to enjoy his music (or at least his live performances) right away.  When we heard that Gwazda produces much of Deacon’s material, we bought ourselves a Gwazda album pronto.  He is, as expected, also awesome and approachable and his opening set lubricates the dancing machine that is also known as the audience.

But this is not a fluff piece.  Before I launch into how hard the show rocked, let's get the business end out of the way.  Mr. Deacon, I’ve got a few pointers for your own professional development and they are as follows.

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1.  Yay, interactive dance-offs!  Nay, momentum-stopping, house-lights-upping instructions for such dance-offs.  We were just getting our mojo rising when you interrupted the flow for your famous back-up-and-make-a-circle game.  Maybe just hold off for another song or two next time around?  Maybe wait for us to finish our first toke before interrogating us with spotlights?  Maybe cut your four opening acts down to a measly two so that you don’t feel pressured to accomplish so much fun in such little time?

2.  No obligations.  Look, it’s fantastic that what you offer during your live performances is so unique, but you needn’t feel obligated to include each and every one of your interactive audience tricks during each and every show.  Perhaps you might alter your plan when the crowd is too large to successfully complete a round of London Bridge during the course of one (long) song? Or perhaps when the surrounding neighborhood is filled with strip clubs and criminals you might reconsider sending them (i.e. us) around the block?

3.  I say this with love in my heart:  please don’t get cocky.  Your fans adore you, and they often adore each other by the end of the night.  (Hell, my group and I made friends with a lobster, learned some tricks for having sex in a car, and announced to a bathroom full of ladies that they should probably wear condoms lest they turn out like us mothers.)  I suppose I should be more specific about the arrogance factor, but I’m not sure how.  Maybe just take note of items one and two above, and item three will be moot.

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This is merely and EXAMPLE of nerds
In any case, dear reader, allow me to rewind for a moment, will you?  A few weeks before the show,  A. and I decided that we should dress up not in a we’re-going-to-be-in-a-city-and-should-try-not-to-look-like-the-mountain-people-that-we-really-are kind of way, but in a we-should-hit-up-a-thrift-store-and-find-the-dorkiest-possible-outfits kind of way.  I rocked a turquoise Hawaiin shirt with striped capris, Christmas socks, and beige, old-lady jazz shoes.  I penciled in my otherwise fair, unplucked eyebrows into bold, stage-makeup arches.  Mr. A. found old-man polyester pants, a hideous print shirt, a fifth-grade-teacher purple tie, and a bandana we bought in India several years ago that has clearly been laying in wait for its time to shine.  It features a large tiger in the center of the fabric and a purple and red design around the edges with bold, repeated text around the border:  AMERICA.  For those of you out of the Dan Deacon loop, this happens to be the name of his most recent album.

I found it a remarkable exercise in self-awareness, this dressing-up game.  After all, we weren’t dressed as lobsters or elves or any other costume-y getup.  It was only after our friend T. mentioned how impressed she was that we had these items lying around our closet that I realized our clothes weren’t as obvious as we had intended them.  It’s strange, how identified one becomes with one’s wardrobe.  What I wear is an expression of who I am and yet who AM I when I choose to wear something that is only like me by token of its silliness?  Nobody in the crowd knew who A. and I were (save T. and her buddies); how could we explain to them that it was a joke?  That we were actually much cooler than this? And (of course this was the existential point) why did it matter, anyway? Who cares if they thought these were our average date-night ensembles?  Why did we give a shit about whatever judgment was floating around in these strangers’ heads in regards to us?  It’s cute to say we didn’t care, that we were above it, and those statements may be partially true when we’ve willed them to be so, but, like I said, there was an unexpected element of identity exploration that I found compatible with Deacon’s steady undertone of intellectualism.

Moving on.

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The show was awesome, bro.  I did the thing that passes for moshing at a Dan Deacon show for the first time in my life, and I felt like a junkie discovering drugs.  It wasn’t aggressive and angry as I had previously assumed.  It was physical, energetic, and energizing.  It was a little like flying, and not in some trippy, acidic way.  I would jump and fall a little off center, back-first, but instead of hitting the ground, I was bounced back up by the next guy’s back.  All the while you’re spinning somewhat, so your senses are always slightly disoriented.  Come to think of it, it reminded me a bit of those trust falls we would do at summer camp, where a completely new physical sensation gives you unexpected physiological feedback and, in doing so, makes you feel alive a new kind of way.  Next time, though, I’ll remember to wear a sports bra.

After the show, A. and I went to the merchandise table to pick up the shirt and tote we’d bought earlier.  It was one in the AM, way past our bedtime to say the least, but we were awake and alert and pretty buzzed from the show.  Chester Gwazda was there, peddling his product, and I couldn’t help but ask about his shirt.  

“Sorry if it’s obvious but, um, what’s your shirt all about?”

He smiled and folded the middle of the bottom line to meet the middle of the top line, MAD magazine style.  “Fuck off,” he said and smiled.  “It’s a conversation starter.”  



And that, my friends, is how you begin with an ending and end with a beginning.  Thankyougoodnight!