It is Saturday afternoon and joining us for this journey is your inner voice. He shall assist you along the way.
But before commencing, let’s get some things out of the way. By the time you’re reading this, whether it be a week or decades from now, you’re probably aware of or have at the very least heard of this thing called COVID-19. Anyhow, this virus came in what will probably be looked back as one of the strangest years in quite a while – that being 2020. Along with the unnecessary mask controversy came an economic recession that screwed over millions of people, as well as entire industries. Through all this, live entertainment and social events became severely limited if not banned, with new virtual alternatives rising to the scene. Alternatives such as live streams and virtual events that could be done in real time thrived, some notable ones being the Travis Scott Fortnite Concert and the PC/smartphone game Among Us. All that being said, a virtual experience could never replace the real deal of attending a show in person, at least not yet.
Let’s say hypothetically that you decide to have a fun and responsible trippy time during COVID-19, now what would that encompass?
There is no definitive answer, but on a whim my friends and I bought tickets to the Hannibal Buress and Thundercat drive-in concert at the Rose Bowl. Yes, today will be a good day. Step one, get to the Rose Bowl. Step two, get trippy dippy for Hannibal and Thundercat.
For reference, the Hannibal Buress and Thundercat drive-in concert was announced to take place on October 24th at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, CA. Having been deprived of live shows for the past 6 months, I knew I must attend. Joining me for this adventure were my friends Noell, JB, and Aidan.
They are here, time to get funky.
“Sooo who’s ready for Thundercat!” exclaims JB.
“I’m so glad I left work for this,” utters Noell.
An excitement fills the car. We’re finally doing something social after being in lockdown for so long. The drive to Pasadena, although far, flies by as we converse. We talk about what everyone has been up to during quarantine: How hyped everyone is for the show? and who brought weed? Noell then throws the question, “So…we buuling?”
In this hypothetical scene, a bottle of Hennesy is pulled out and within a drink or two I am feeling the effects. I am then passed another bottle labeled “trippy water.”
Now let’s say hypothetically this trippy water was what you thought it was. Have a safe trip.
We arrive at the Rose Bowl and enter through the “HotBox Entry.” My mind sees this as Hannibal giving us the green light to hotbox the car at a smoke-free event. Why else would he call it this? Either way, once we’re finally parked in our spot there is a new task at hand – find grub.
The crowd gathers around a hot dog stand to place orders for their bacon-wrapped glizzdogs before the show starts.
“I must have a bacon-wrapped Glizzy!” I proclaim.
By this point in this hypothetical world, if the trippy water was what it seemed to be, the effects surely would have taken effect. But just as I’m processing it I hear Noell.
“Bring me a Sprite!” he demands.
He proceeds to Naruto-run off in the distance to buy a $4 can of Sprite.
Finally, after much delay, we make it back to the vehicle to eat our overpriced food while listening to the remainder of the opening band’s set.
And then it began.
Hannibal appears on stage in what seems as such a surreal moment. It quite literally felt like we were watching a live episode of ‘The Eric Andre Show,’ minus the Eric. His act begins in an improvised way, nothing too crazy. But he suddenly yells, “You all look like y’all are ready for some LOCAL MATERIAL!”
Following up with a series of absurd comments, the punchline always resorts to some self-roast on a local matter, followed by the phrase “Local Material”. Lost in the sauce by this point, out of the corner of my eye appears a U.F.O. You can surely imagine how a car filled with intoxicated 21-year-olds would react to such a matter.
I scream, “Yo Hannibal watch out, they’re going to probe you!”
It catches Hannibal’s eye immediately, quickly responding, “I don’t know what this is doing here, but I think I’m getting in.”
For the next 15 minutes, Hannibal proceeds to drive around the lot in a U.F.O., making stops here and there to harass passengers in their cars – a truly magical moment.
Within this act of absurdism, Hannibal’s set ends as it started, with a feeling of confusion and fear served with a side of laughter. However, no time to process; it is time for Thundercat.
With a big smile, Thundercat walks on stage and reaches for the mic. He thanks everyone for being present and explains how excited he is to perform for the first time since quarantine began.
Quite frankly, this should be a heartfelt moment, the only problem was that it was incredibly difficult to focus on anything he was saying as, in this hypothetical state of mind, everything is morphing in and out of reality and paranoia is starting to kick in. But then it gets more personal. I look Thundercat straight in the eyes and for a moment it seems that he looks back. His eyes pierce directly into me and speak to my soul. Words in a monologue of wisdom explode out of his mouth as he talks of struggle and asserts claims to have learned matters the hard way.
“Don’t get caught beating your meat on a Zoom call,” he advises.
Such a controversial, yet bold statement. I let out a tear.
Thundercat plays songs from his last two albums and every intricacy from his bass is absorbed into my body, each lick sending me further down the rabbit hole of existence.
You are experiencing ‘The Thundercat’.
In retrospect, there really is something beautiful about hundreds of people gathering around in their vehicles and coming together to listen to a bass player named after a kids cartoon show sing about his Dragonball durag and being stuck in the friendzone. It really does give off 2020 vibes.
It is then that the trigger is pulled and a joint is sparked.
Concerned, Aidan says, “Oh no we’re totally going to get kicked out.”
“No,” I respond, “We will be fine. We have been blessed by Thundercat.”
We exit the car to sit on top of it. Everyone stares at us and wonders why we are doing a joint rotation in the open. Quite frankly, it really did seem like a solid plan. Everything was going fine and dandy until Aidan catches a middle-aged man walking toward us.
“Well here it goes, we’re going to be asked to leave,” cries Aidan.
With a joint in my hand, the man looks me straight in the eyes and pops a smile. “No way, I didn’t realize joints were okay here. Rock on man,” he says.
A close call for sure, or is this a sign that you are truly blessed by the durag gods?
Either way, by this point everyone is extra saucy but strangely at peace. A flurry of thoughts fill my mind, and with a tear in my eye, I look at the bigger picture of it all. As meme-y as this event was, it tells of the power of coming together and creating a ‘moment.’
But what does that even mean, are we not always experiencing moments?
Why yes Brian, we are, but more what it means is being conscious of it. You see young one, life goes on, shit happens, and we honestly lose track of what living really is; we lose track of these moments. Sure you can work your ass off to accomplish what you want, whether it be that promotion, that degree, or really any sort of thing that gives you a sense of value. However, you’ll often get into this routine, this repetitive lifestyle and I wonder if this is really living? Am I truly alive right now? Or am I more so just going with the motion of things, assuming this societal construct of life is correct? Or maybe, just maybe this isn’t the right path, rather not the only one. Maybe I can just go for whatever it is I want, with some long and short term planning and an open heart I don’t see why things wouldn’t work themselves out. Well shit, I don’t know but all I can tell is that going on whims of spontaneity, such as this last minute choice to go to this show and connect with others, or even just the bare act of listening to music for fun, it makes me feel much more ‘human’. More at ease.
“Yo Brian are you okay?” asks JB. “You got really quiet and stared at the trees for like 15 minutes.”
“I am now,” I tell him, “I am now.”
At this moment Thundercat speaks into the microphone, he thanks everyone for coming out and says he’ll be closing with ‘Them Changes,’ encouraging everyone to sing along if we know the lyrics. With everyone coming together to sing in unison, it really feels that for this brief moment in time, even with all the shit going on in the world, everything is going to be okay. We’ve made it this far at least.
The show ends and while stuck in the exit line traffic we attempt to break down what it is we just experienced.
“That was actually quite delightful,” starts off Aidan, “You could tell there was a certain level of improvisation to it, but also that was great.”
“Yeah definitely, I had a blast,” adds Noell, “Sure beats being at work in the hot heat.”
“So what do you guys wanna do now?” asks JB. There is a pause and silence fills the car.
“I don’t know about you guys but I could go for a mcchicken,” I say, “Let’s just take it from there and see where it takes us.”
“Sure, let’s go get some mcchiggy’s,” confirms JB.
And into the unknown we delve once more, not a clear plan in mind, but rather an idea that will ultimately spark the move to our next destination.
So come on now, get out there and live your life, safely of course. Life is far too short for you to worry about “what if”, and my god I know you can do it. Ask out that person, go on that trip, yes please drink that beer even if it’s only noon because I’ll be damned if you go through life without living just a little. But yes, do be conscious of it all, because even in a pandemic, life goes on and the beauty of it all still remains. It all starts with the first step, the leap of faith. And please, don’t forget to smile.
Brian Mendez is .WAV’s Interview Coordinator, he wrote the article. Toby Darci-Maher is a .WAV staff member, they created the graphic.