My music taste leans nearly 80% local, but here’s a quick list of non-local things I’ve been enjoying a lot lately.
First, there’s Gender Roles‘ first EP, Planet X-Ray. Gender Roles is far from a local band. They’re not even from this country. Their sound is described as “hazy indie-punk;” I may not be cool enough to know about that, but I dig the way their music meshes Britpop with what 90s Sub Pop used to be known for.
I was surprised and excited to see that The Colour Thirteen released a full-length album just a couple days ago. I really didn’t think they were doing anything anymore. For all my friends who dig 80s new wave and synthpop, you really ought to give this a listen. The album’s sort of self-titled, TC13, and includes all the songs from their 2011 EP plus 5 more energetic, yet sufficiently moody, tracks.
I was driving to band practice one day, thinking about our stage setup. We’d discussed wanting to add to our visuals onstage, and a backdrop had been mentioned specifically.
We were practicing at Mitch’s house, which was pretty remote in Union County, outside of Monroe. I was taking a slightly different route for a reason I can’t remember. Probably bad traffic on Highway 74. At any rate, I was on a road I hadn’t been on before, out in the country.
I was running through different ideas for a backdrop and stage set, everything from a banner with the band logo on it to assorted hardware and mechanical assemblages. We considered ourselves an “art rock” group, and kind of liked being weird. We also considered ourselves poor, and our resources were extremely limited.
Used to being crafty out of necessity, I suddenly had the idea that we could use a Twister mat — you know, from the game — as a banner hung behind the band. I hadn’t actually seen one in a few years, but my recollection was that it would be big enough and the simple design — big circles of different colors evenly spaced — would hit several aesthetic buttons, as well as some nostalgic ones. In my mind, it kind of fit with part of our band image, which was one of 70s sci-fi fans making android cowboy music in a basement.
Guess you had to be there.
So I’m thinking about this idea, figuring I could pick up a Twister game at Target or, even better, a thrift store or yard sale, driving on this country road all alone, when I notice something in the road a half mile or so ahead. Closer I get, it looks like maybe some roadkill. Kind of big though.
I get closer… closer… pull in the opposite lane to avoid it (there wasn’t any other traffic out there), and just as I drive get next to the lump I realize what it is.
Right. A loose, kinda balled up Twister mat.
In the middle of the road. The remote, unoccupied, no houses anywhere nearby country road.
I drove about a mile farther. Came to a stop sign where the road I had been on ended. I thought about it for a second, then turned around, went back to the Twister mat, and stopped. Still no other cars.
Swear to God, it felt like I was in a Stephen King movie.
Got out, looked all around the area, then walked over to the mat.Afraid maybe there was something wrapped up in it, a puppy or kitten or human head someone no longer wanted, I cautiously picked it up.
There wasn’t anything else in it or around it. Just the playmat. I shook it out, let it flap in the breeze for a sec, looked around again for anyone it might belong to. Folded up the vinyl, put it in my trunk, and continued on my way to band practice.
I’ve experienced some weird shit before, but this is still one of the weirdest.
I don’t know if I had a premonition about the Twister mat or if I somehow willed it into existence. Might have thought I’d imagined or hallucinated the whole thing if I didn’t actually have a slightly dirty Twister mat in the trunk of my car. Had God for some reason chosen THAT silent wish for a Milton Bradley game accessory as my prayer to answer? I’ve heard He does move in mysterious ways. Never reckoned it was that kind of mysterious.
We never did utilize the mat on stage. I think the other guys weren’t into the idea so much. Although we didn’t create anything to set up behind us, I did get to smash and throw a couple dozen marshmallow Peeps at the audience a little while later. Maybe I’ll tell you about that one sometime too.