Where Music is Written, or Dapper LeChampagne’s Unraveling at Austin City Limits

By Justin William Follin

He made his way to the big stage. The crowd there was trickling in and waiting. He sat on a couple’s blanket near the front.

“Are y’all as excited about this as I am?”

The girl smiled like she’d just seen an old friend.

“I’ve been waiting for this show for weeks. I came from Lubbock just to see Him.”

She pointed at the stage. She wore thick glasses and low hanging skater shorts like a teenage boy might wear. Her boyfriend was missing a couple of front teeth and wore a sleeveless t-shirt that showed off the anarchist “A” sliced into his shoulder. He grinned at Dapper but didn’t respond.

“I read His blog all the time,” the girl continued. “He’s hysterical. Well, I don’t know if He’s funny, you know, he’s just Him.”

“You’re from Lubbock?” Dapper asked.

“Yeah,” she said. “It’s in West Texas. We’ve got a lot of great songwriters. It’d be a cooler town if everyone there didn’t end up moving to Austin.”

The quiet anarchist nodded and muttered something about dropping acid for the show. The girl stood up.

“Hey, these people better not crowd in here. We’ve been waiting for an hour.”

There was a collective push towards the front. The size of the audience seemed to swell instantly. A roar made its way to the back like a wave as an all white clad David Byrne swaggered to the microphone. The color of his hair matched his outfit. It made him look like an old man but his face looked Photoshopped from 1984’s Stop Making Sense. And his voice had aged even better than a cliché about wine.

The music pulsed over Dapper the way blood moves. Byrne sang, “This groove is out of fashion, these beats are twenty years old.” But the familiar steady kick-snare dance beat that kept a generation of coked up yuppies dancing sloppy in their urban lofts still worked for Byrne’s new Brian Eno collaborations the same way they did when his rhythm section consisted of a clockwork married couple. Hyper-flex dancers in white twisted around behind the man on stage, looking like nurses from One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest in their really wild off hours. Dapper felt his body pumping with the heart from the speakers and still, the crowd stood still. What is this place? Dapper thought to himself. Who are these people? Can’t you hear it? Water dissolving!

As the set evolved into choreographed chair dancing, frog leaping, and Talking Heads, Talking Heads, and more Talking Heads, Dapper felt the sound washing him down, washing him down. “No need to worry!” he shouted. “Everything’s under control!” And the ice caps in the north began to melt under the heat of the sun, and the financial institutions began to crumble, and the stand offs in the places far away began to stand on again and the cold, cold faces of a hot crowd in Austin began to warm and bodies were moving! He was floating above it and he was joining the world of missing persons and he was missing enough to feel alright. He felt a hand tapping him in the thigh and he turned to see the pretty girl from Lubbock and the quiet anarchist dancing like osprey on the water. They all moved their heads like beaks and stamped at the ground together. Some things sure can sweep him off his feet, Dapper thought to himself.

He swam out of the gates onto Barton Springs road where street vendors selling tie-dyes and marijuana pipes had turned up the speakers. The Jackson Five were singing “she’s a dancing machine” and the dreadlocked sales people were all bouncing like pixies. A large Earth mama wearing a skirt and a One Love t-shirt and a head wrap danced up to Dapper holding a stick of incense and they broke it down between the tapestries and posters. She twirling her enormous hips and him gyrating moving, grooving, dancing to the music. He moved from tent to tent like this and at the end was a marimba band, four giant xylophones and a drum kit and a crowd moving like a One Love t-shirt outside the festival. The people were moving!

The dancing was beginning!

The disintegrating was integrating.

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