He was smart, he was wise, he’d profoundly philosophize…

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[wpaudio url=”http://www.notwiththatface.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/12/19-Out-of-the-Window.mp3″ text=”Violent Femmes – Out the Window” dl=”0″] 

In November 1993 my roommate to be and I jumped in his small Toyota pickup and headed off down to Austin to see the Violent Femmes play at Liberty Lunch. This was my first outing to Austin to see a show and I kicked off my long long string of Austin shows with one of the best.

Liberty Lunch (R.I.P.) was my idea of the quintessential Austin venue: it was dark, reeked of stale beer, and was surrounded by loiterers of questionable intent. In other words, Liberty Lunch was perfection. With a capacity of only 1000, it wasn’t the largest venue in the area, but it was one of the most recognizable. For me, Austin is a city of very particular venues. When I want to see punk shows, I want to see them at Emos; when I want to see the Flametrick Subs, I want to see them at the Black Cat (also sadly gone); when I want to see indie bands, I want the Electric Lounge; and when I want to see just about everything else, I want to see it at Liberty Lunch.

I remember very distinctly our little voyage down I-35. Traffic wasn’t as bad as it is these days, and we made good enough time to grab a burger at Waterloo Ice House (a definite must). After digging through the music at Waterloo Records, we headed down to 2nd street to get ready to stand in line. November 1993 was a particularly cold November. We stood in line for about an hour in our short-sleeved shirts freezing our asses off waiting in giddy anticipation to revel in the glory of the “Add It Up (1981-1993)” tour. Once the doors finally opened up we filed in and I realized that I didn’t really want to see shows anywhere else for a very long time.

That show was basically full: I’m not sure if the Femmes sold it out that night, but it was pretty damn close. We worked our way to the center of the stage around ten feet back. It was sometime between the fourth and fifth song that I realized my shoes were no longer on the ground. Not unlike the keystone in an arch, I was being pushed up by the sheer force of the people around me. During the particularly popular songs like “Add it Up” and “Blister In the Sun,” the crowd would erupt into a packed frenzy that would have been an interesting study in thermodynamics and physics. As a whole, the crowd would bend and lean: forcing everyone into painful and uncomfortable angles that would definitely be nagging me in the morning. I, However, could care less. I was in the music capital of the U.S. watching a band I never thought I would ever see: it was spectacular!

Then came the fun part: the drive home. It was around 2AM when we finally made our way back to Chris’ truck to make the trek homeward. Another friend of ours had driven his car down and we were basically in a small caravan for our journey back to Waco. Well, fate did not smile down upon us that particular evening. Our other friend drove an RX7 and was quite fond of opening it up. So, once we got well out of Austin, his little black car zipped out of view of our headlights. Right around Jarrell, TX (a city whose later tragedy with a tornado sets the scene for another of my crazy college stories) the passenger-side front tire on our truck blew. Luckily Chris was a good driver and managed to get the truck from sixty-something to zero on the shoulder of I-35.

There we were: sweaty as if we had bathed in our clothes, without coats of any kind, and stranded. Chris had all the proper tools for our dilemma, but the lugnuts just weren’t going to come off. So, we set off down the highway to head back into Jarrell to hit the truckstop and find a phone.

Chris called AAA… we waited… Chris called again… we waited some more… Chris called again. The dispatch says they came out and there was no truck. The dispatch then said he wasn’t going to send anyone else out there because he thought we were yanking his chain. It turns out we gave him the wrong mile marker, but that shouldn’t have made a difference (I thought in my frozen wet brain).

So, there we were: wet, cold, and in a truckstop in Jarrell. We were about to give up when one of the night owls at the truckstop offered to give us a hand. At this point Ed Gein could have offered us help and we would have taken it. This gentleman, of course, had the biggest freakin’ tire iron I had ever seen and he just cranked off those lugnuts like they weren’t there.

We eventually got on our way and made it back to Waco in time to go to class. We ragged on our friend for ditching us to the cannibal hicks of Central Texas and attempted to make it through another day. I was a bit tired, but boy did I ever have the best story about my first trip to Austin to see a show.

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