Thursday, March 15, 2007

behind the 8-ball

The Marlbourgh MX Beat.

The oddest music festival I have ever attended. Maria's other couchsurfer, Liam (another Australian), had joined us for the day's adventures. After farting about for a couple of hours, we made our way to the venue, an area of undeveloped land in between a bunch of fresh looking office buildings and ritzy hotels on the outskirts of the city. We park the car and just as we get out it begins to rain. By the time we got there the event was sold out. We needed tickets and after about 20 minutes of bugging people in the line, we get them and enter. We go through security, get patted down and then get corralled into a huge long tent, lined on both sides by about 100 people sitting at computers. Not understanding the signs or instructions, Liam and I follow the gesticulations of a security guard and end up at two terminals next to each other. We're are asked for ID but I wasn't carrying any and became worried I wasn't going to get in. The girl serving me just shrugged, asked if I smoked and which band I was mainly here to see. Liam on the other hand who was carrying ID, had it scanned and then had to sign his name into the computer with a digital tablet thingo. We kept exchanging "WTF?" looks, as at all the festivals we had gone to, neither of us had experienced such a thing. We get in and the fun begins.

The event (sponsored by a cigarette company), was giving out free packets of smokes, and there was a rumour floating about that a big tent in one corner of the venue would open its doors after 11pm and give away free booze. Liam and I scoffed at this ridiculous idea and bought beers. We watched a couple of bands together, met a few of Maria's friends and wandered around the venue. At some point we lost each other and I bumped into one of Maria's American mates, who I chatted with for a bit. Originally from New York, she has been living in Mexico for the last 4 years. She had an interesting perspective about the place but said that her time was almost up and was about to move back home. Maybe. The next band to come out was Architecture in Helsinki, who strangely enough have a bit of a following in Mexico. As soon as they started playing, all the locals begun jumping around singing all the lyrics. Surprising stuff and left me feeling a little un-Australian, not knowing the lyrics and all. During one of the songs I did some muppeting, where you sing the chorus bit (the part everyone knows), and then move your mouth along with what you think is the lyrics for the rest of the song. I swear the girl playing the keys looked just like ex-dollhouse member Marlaina. I remember an odd cowinkydink about the band and laugh to myself. It's 5! starts playing and I sing along with the Mexicans, with only minimal muppeting this time. I met some other Australian's in the audience and danced with them for a while. I tell a few people that the band is not from Finland, and then rattle off a few more Australian band names (AC/DC from Australian?). To my surprise, Midnight Oil is well known in Mexico and were pretty successful here in their day.

I'm not really sure of the running order of bands that night. I spent most of the time bouncing between chatting with people, waiting for food and walking over to the stage area to see who was playing. I think the next band was Tapes n Tapes, which were cool. Spoon (a band I listened a lot to while cycling Austria), were a little more subdued than expected and took a while to warm up. There was more 'sitting on the floor and playing with peddles in a prog music fashion' than I expected from the lead guy. The big screens on either side of the stage made the band member's heads look 5 metres tall and I imagine what a 5 metre head would be like. Weird. At some point during Spoon I run into Liam and the others and we dance about to the more up tempo poppier stuff the band saved for the end.

Spoon finishes up, the mystery tent opens its flaps and sure enough, there's free booze flowing thick and fast. Tequila, whiskey, vodka and beer. All free and easy to get. Hardly any line up. Liam and I discuss the likelihood and possible results of such an alcohol policy at a Big Day Out and the idea scares us. Adult are playing on stage as we collect our first drinks. Both members of the group look like they need some sun and some happy pills. Datarock were awesome, even if they are The Casio Brothers with more members, instruments and success. There was a Brazilian band on after them, but by this stage my free boozed memory had become somewhat hazy. The next 4 hours was spent dancing up the front to another electronic group and a couple of DJs. Me and alcohol is a real hit and miss affair. If I'm sitting around at a pub, anything more than 3 or 4 drinks and I get sleepy and want a nice lie down. Put me somewhere I can dance and I turn into this crazed alcohol fueled moves machine, ripping up the dance floor and downing the booze like there's no tomorrow. Well at least that's the impression I have of myself after a few. I think the girl from Architecture in Helsinki came out in a mask and danced around on stage for a bit, but I can't confirm this. At 3am, the ugly lights come on, the music stop and we drive home. The sleep of angels follows.

After the best rest I've had in ages, I wake up at 12 and remember I need to be at the airport at 3. My legs are sore from dancing and packing is a slow affair. I say my goodbyes and leave the house at 1:45. Plenty of time. I jump in a cab for the short journey to the metro station and look at a map for the most direct route to the airport. I figure out a way there that is more stops but only one transfer, rather than the two or three transfers and less stops. I jump on a train at 2pm, but it is really slow between the stations. I contemplate whether or not to take the alternate route (the one with more transfers), but stick to my plan, missing my 3 opportunities of taking the other lines. One stop before my transfer station, the train stops and has a rest for about 10 excruciatingly long minutes. Argh.. While we wait, I buy a CDs being sold by a guy walking around with a speaker pack on his back which is blaring out 80s cock rock and hair metal. The train starts up again and I get out at my transfer station, walking as briskly as possible with a full backpack and sore legs. I turn a corner and the first entrance to the other line is blocked off. Oh dear. I walk a little faster and see that the other two entrances are blocked for renovations. Fuck. My fantastic plan is unravelling in front of me, my legs are sore and my bag is heavy. There is no way I can kick myself for not taking the other transfers. I ask a guard in broken, slightly panicky Spanish what I am supposed to do. He points to the stairs and says "gratis autobus". Right. I walk even quicker up the stairs (my legs are really killing me now), and find the bus going to the airport, but it is spilling out the doors full and I can't get on. The guard at the stop instructs me to wait for the next one and I feel the colour disappear from my face. The trip to the airport now depends on Mexico City traffic and I think to myself, "I'm going to miss my plane". Another bus comes and I scramble on. As the watch I had been using was lost in Cuba (fucking Cuba), my only reference of time is casual glances at other people's wrists and the occasional informative billboard. Problem is, none of them share a common time and I hedge my bets as to which one is correct. For the guy sitting two people up from me, my plane has already taken off - the guy standing next to me, check in has just opened - the billboard we drive by, security should be waving a metal detector around my privates. FUCK FUCK FUCK. The opening sequence of Four Weddings and a Funeral comes to mind and I think to myself how did that ever air on American TV.

Once my fit of internal swearing finished, I concede that I have missed my 3pm flight and think what I could do in Mexico city while I wait for my next one. Just as the wave of acceptance and calmness dulls the panic in my head, the bus stops and everyone gets out. I glance at the guy with the most optimistic time and reckon to myself I can still make it by 3. I figure airlines are like cinemas. Sure, they say the movie starts at 3, but after all the ads and trailers, the film really doesn't begin until 3:20. I jump on the metro for the remaining two stops and arrive at the airport station. I see the station's clock: 2:55. I can do this. I say to my legs, "ok i know we had a big night last night and that we are currently carrying more than usual, but let's make a deal. You get me on this flight and I will sit on a beach for a week". I run. I run like a terrified gazelle runs from a cheeta. On the station's stairs the muscles in my legs feel like they are going to rip through the skin and trip me over to make me stop running. I almost get cleaned up by a taxi crossing a road, but I keep going. . I enter the airport, glance at the time: 2:57 - I just need to run a bit further. I cn do this. Fuck. Deep Heat is pumping through my leg's veins and my bag feels like I'm giving a piggyback to a horse. I catch sight of my airline's office, turn and my shoes lose grip, with the extra weight of my pack skidding me into a wall. I pick myself up and out of breath I indicate to the clerk that I am indeed here and totally capable of boarding my flight to Tijuana. The clock behind him reads 2:58. I'm desperate. I don't want the only flight that I've missed in my life to be this one. He looks at me, asks for my ID and says "check in for this 4pm flight doesn't open for another couple of minutes, but I'll put you through now". I realise that at some point between the house and the airport, I must have got what time I need to be at the airport confused with the actual flight time. Idiot.

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The last couple of days here in California have been great. A really laid back, relaxing time. The weather has been beautiful and the beach is really close to Andy's place. There was a funky marine layer cloud system the other day, which made for a great view from the nearby hills of the low cloud settling on the water, stopping at the shore. Going into the built up areas is a little weird. Depending on which way you look, California can be either super beautiful or super plastic. We went out the other night with a few of Andy's mates to a couple of bars, ending up at a 'dive bar', where pool, darts and 80s music took us up to close. Yesterday afternoon I walked down to the beach and sat on some grass just near the sand and read. I've been playing with my new camera and lens combo, loving the results. Tonight we go north to the next town and see George Clinton and The P-Funk play. Bam!

Good luck to Sarah and Aidan with your wedding this weekend. You're both such lovely people and I wish you the best for the future.

1 comment:

Sarah said...

Hey Dan,
thanks for your best wishes..so far everything is going as planned.
Really, I'm just counting down the days to the holiday!