Friday, March 16, 9:00 a.m.
I wake up to the above photo.
This tour feels more than three days old.
Outside, the morning is overcast but refreshing. While my bandmates sleep, I do push-ups and yoga in the backyard; Treasure MammaL teaches you not to give a fuck in public. I reflect on the poor (great?) decisions of last night, each push-up a form of repentance and a celebration of being alive.
A funeral procession drives past J.'s house. I remember that not everyone is getting paid to party this week.
People begin waking up, and the four earliest risers go to Mr. Natural for coffee and breakfast. Then, a quick nap before our first of five scheduled gigs today.
A 2:00 p.m. show at a Methodist church seems a strange beginning to the day, but at this point, not that strange. We're booked with friends Cuckoo Chaos as part of an Occupy Austin benefit show.
But the place is empty, except for a two-piece rockabilly outfit called The Pyschosis rehearsing inside the chapel.
Inside, the building is gorgeous, virginal. Cuckoo Chaos takes one peek and bounces. I'm weirded out, remembering the funeral procession that morning. Maybe God is trying to tell me something obvious about last night.
Anyway, Abe finds out the show's been double-booked and we would not get to play for another two hours. That's a slap in the face, and no-go on our tight schedule. Treasure MammaL leaves the house of God and heads to Domy Books.
What by Whatever is definitely among our most high-profile gigs. We're talking heart of Austin, elevated stage, impressive bill, and concert poster by Devin Flynn.
Our set is sandwiched exactly in the middle of performances by: Summer Twins [breezy Cali pop]; Radical Dads [post-Sonic Youth rock from Brooklyn]; O.S.S. [headbangers from Rhode Island, with a bassist as lead guitar]; and Tearist [sexy, destructive electro from L.A.].
In short, The What By Whatever lineup is incredible. This is widest range of musicians I've ever seen in one day, and maybe the most successful and inspiring concert I've ever attended.
Everyone recognizes that we need to bring out A-plus game to this show. We have 30 minutes, tops, to impress hundreds of music lovers who've been watching top-notch shows all day. We bust out the juicer, the yoga mat, the Shake Weights.
Luckily, about a dozen of Arizonans have made it to this show, and their support carries the show. One girl cries as we chant "You'll always be my best friend" to end the show. We make friends with Radical Dads afterward and get strange, timid smiles from Summer Twins. And the day is only halfway done.
We're booked at for an 11:00 p.m. show (meaning, midnight) at Sierra Joy's art exhibition opening at The White House. The art is engaging, but this place and its people are something archeologists will be studying in the future.
The White House is a foreclosed crack house some artists bought to convert into a gallery space. The property is flanked by other artists, so they decided to start building things in the acres of wilderness out back. Trails became tent camps became ramshackle buildings became two full stages. All in a month. No money exchanged.
Welcome to The Magical Forest. Indie youths are sprawled everywhere. Acoustic guitars, beat up couches and rolled cigarettes abound. Two b-boys dance in the mulch to a Keith Sweaty DJ set. Someone hands me a beer, and I find a perfect-fitting jacket in the "free pile." At least three couples must be making love in the surrounding woods.
Glitchy projector images and ambient noise on the side stage make me even more glad I'm not on psychotropic drugs right now. "Yeah, they're the neighbors," says a Magical Forest resident when I ask about it. "Nobody really knows who they are. They do that until, like 4:00 a.m., but they let us do our thing, and we let them do theirs."
All I can think--besides Who am I?--is that The Magical Forest is the perfect place for a Treasure MammaL show. And it was. We get another full set, and for the first time all tour, we have to compete with the crowd over who's craziest.
We dance. They dance. We strip down. They strip down. We bust out the Shake Weights. They throw a giant medicine ball at us. I jump on the medicine ball and roll myself into the crowd and through bark chips and dirt. Abe is screaming from the bottom of a pile of limp bodies. We have another show to play tonight.
"Man, druggie artist commune in the middle of the woods?" someone says as we leave The Magical Forest, vowing to return someday. "Come on. That show was a slam dunk for Treasure MammaL."
Saturday, March 17, 1:45 a.m.
Our nightcap is to play the Music Barn again, another house party and full set. Everyone is running on fumes, but at least we will have access to a very unique costume collection and monster speakers.
I still have some energy choose to sit this show out. I want to take in a set from the audience's perspective--and this clusterfuck of a show will be worthy of documentation.
"Abe said a really interesting thing to me earlier," Dan says as we search the car for AA batteries. "The best shows are like a dream. You don't remember them when you're awake."
As Treasure MammaL warms up, I eavesdrop the conversations taking place nearby:
"For this band, you gotta stand back."
"Yeah, it's fucking Treasure MammaL."
Abe responds as if by telepathy into the mic: "Don't be afraid. Come in closer. I have a secret to tell you all."
The deep bass of "Real Talk" drops hard on the tent-speckled backyard. Abe is visibly smashed and wants to smash this scene. Megan is pseudo-belly dancing in a fairy shawl. Dan wears see-thru leggings, and it's only a problem if you make it one. Q. is asleep on a couch inside. Scary people are doing lines of cocaine in the bathroom. I lean against someone's van, remembering the funeral procession and the chaste but double-booked church. That was today?
Abe launches into his newest song, "Stevie Wonder to the Bullshit," which he wrote in honor of Richie "Restless Legz" Gimbel. Richie passed away earlier this year. I only knew him through Treasure MammaL, but his loss was still palpable to me and many of my friends. The song has come to be a memorial for Richie, and one we all decidedly lose our shit to. Our energy is a tribute to his short but full life.
I can't help but smile through the performance. In my mind, there are two main types of Treasure MammaL shows: "BFF" shows and "shock 'n' awesome" shows. Domy and Dead Shed were "BFF" shows. Our friends were there. Memories of past performances added meaning to the present. Everything was bliss.
The Music Barn is a "shock 'n' awesome" show, which in a twisted way, I sometimes prefer to the "BFF" shows. Part (or all) of the crowd is annoyed by Treasure MammaL's antics. Abe reacts to this by getting even crazier. My first Treasure MammaL show, this dynamic turned me off. Second show, I was conflicted. Now I recognize these "shock 'n' awesome" shows as acts of creative destruction.
It's beautiful when people are drawn in to Treasure MammaL's welcoming craziness. It's even more beautiful when Treasure MammaL grinds up on people who reject the open invitation to fun. Most of the too-cool-for-grad-school crowd flees, but a few brave souls take off their shirts and dive in.
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SHOW ME HOW
Abe plays an impressively--and to some, uncomfortably--long 2:00 a.m. set. Most people have left for other parts of the party already. A few indie scowls remain, but others have dissolved into confusion or awe.
Treasure MammaL is Treasure MammaL. You can share Abe Gil's energy, or you can go have fun (but probably not as much fun) somewhere else. It's pure energy, positive but aggressive. Treasure MammaL cock-blocks Creative Commons.
"We're done?" Abe screams to no one through the crackling, too-loud microphone. "We're done. We're Treasure MammaL from Phoenix, and we just ruined your life. Or made it better."