United Against All Demons

Published on 08/01/2023

Practice seemed to be going normally the night before the show. The studio often felt lived in, with scents of aged wood in combination of musky guitar cases and vintage amplifiers. Strings of twinkling fairy lights cast a warm amber glow over the room casting flickering beams on the mismatched posters and record covers adorning the walls from years of diverse fandom. Guitar pedals and tangled cables sprawled across the weathered wooden floor, leading to a maze of tangled wires converging at a dusty mixing console.

Owen, the guitarist and a lanky figure with unkempt hair and a weathered guitar slung over his shoulder, stood near a vintage amplifier that hummed gently, as if it had a life of its own. It would otherwise be spooky if it wasn’t familiar. He ran his fingers over the strings, eliciting a soft chord that reverberated almost like a ghost in the small room. The studio’s acoustics worked in harmony with his guitar, accentuating every riff and lick, making them come alive in an immersive three-dimensional feel. The guitar looks like a work of art under the ambient lighting’s warm glow, strings gleamed like silvery threads ready to weave a musical tapestry. Owen strummed a bit more intensely, and looked over the catch the bassist’s eye with a knowing grin.

Silas the bassist, a cool and composed figure, remained focused on meticulously tuning his instrument. The bass rested confidently against his body, an extension of his soul. He plucked a few notes in harmony with Owen, the deep and resonant sound vibrating through the floor. Owen’s fingers danced along his guitar string, and then he threw in a cheeky riff subtly deviating from the written melody. Silas, like a perfect partner in crime, picked up the cue immediately. He responded with a funky bass-line complementing the deviations flawlessly, and adding an extra layer of groove to the song. It was a typical jam session full of admiration, respect, and joy of making music with someone who feels like family. The duo’s strumming ranged from gentle melodies to fervent beats, bringing the essence of rock ‘n’ roll to life in the small studio.

“Two three four!”

Owen and Silas kick off their current masterpiece, “Hazy Summer Thunder“. Old album covers buzzed on the walls, a poster fell to the floor. The volume seemed almost too much for the intimate space, yet somehow it was exactly what the song needed; a melody so good that louder was absolutely better. Strings became trails of stardust as fingers danced across. On this particular night before the big show melodies sounded even sweeter and more enchanting than ever before. Owen’s hands trembled slightly as he held his guitar, but fingers strummed with a purpose, running through riffs with precision.

Silas adjusted his bass strap as he tapped his foot in rhythm, almost revealing his restlessness. His eyes darted around the room, settling on Owen for a brief moment of reassurance. Then he turned to double-check mix settings, taking a deep breath to steady nerves.

“Man are we on point tonight” said Silas. “We are going to kill it tomorrow brother.”

“Yeah, I’m really feeling in tune.” said Owen.

Feeling in tune? Owen thought to himself. Feels like I’m overlooking something…

“Yeah man, big time in tune tonight bro. We sound better than ever!” Silas continued.

Surely there must be something we forgot? Owen wondered to himself.

Owen’s complexion turned pale, drained of its usual vibrancy. It’s as if a ghostly hand brushed over his skin, leaving a trail of goosebumps in its wake. His shoulders stiffened, and he dropped his pick on the floor. Silas’ brows furrow slightly with empathy, “Are you OK?”

“What if the audience just isn’t engaged tomorrow night?” Owen asked.

“What if I miss my cue, or worse if I forget how to play Hazy Summer Thunder”? he continued.

“Damn, what if we get feedback from that old amp of ours?” he said, looking down. Owen took a deep breath in, but remained tense.

“I feel like there are so many demons just waiting to get us … What about these demons???” exclaimed Owen!

“Let’s go through hell together!“ said Silas.

Owen and Silas lean back from each other slightly in paused silence, maintaining warm eye contact. With resounding focus they kick-off “Hazy Summer Thunder” from the top. In focused beauty, they play it through one time, as if they were playing live for the hundredth time.

“Yeah we sound great when it’s just you and me here in the studio” said Owen.

“But what about that amp? How’s it going to do live on stage, in an open-air theater w….”

“Listen man, let’s just take it head on, we can do this together.” Silas interrupted.

“Like, what’s the worst that can go wrong? Let’s plan it out man.”

“OK, well what if I accidentally trip and kick out the cord?” asked Owen.

“Yeah, I guess that could happen. So let’s practice, let’s do a drill for it.” said Silas.

“OK” said Owen.

Letting out some steam, Owen did a little dance while jamming a riff off the top of his head, and kicked out the cord from the amp, pretending to do it by accident. Silas took a quick step over to grab the cord, tripped and almost fell. “We’re never gonna be prepared.” sighed Owen as he shook his head.

“Yeah yeah, don’t worry man. That’s why it’s called practice.” said Silas.

Silas steps back behind the amp, more smoothly this time around, then plugs in the cord with a crisp smooth action and satisfying “ker-chunk” from the amp.

“Well 50/50 is not exactly reassuring. And what if something goes really wrong with our gear?” asked Owen.

“OK, fine, I’ll do it again” said Silas. He pulled out the plug, and gently set it on the floor. Then Silas slowly backed away from the amp, and turned his back to Owen. After a brief pause Silas spun around and rushed back up behind the amp, snatched up the cord and plugged it back in with a precise confident motion.

“OK, cool. But what about the audience? Yeah, we’re doing good in here all by ourselves, but how are we gonna pull this off in front of an audience?” asked Owen.

“Yeah, what about the audience“ echoed Silas softly.

“Yeah, we sound so good tonight Owen, let’s get some friends over!“

“I’ll send out a group text – You make some calls Owen.“

“OK, sure!” said Owen, and a group of their closest friends were knocking at the door before Owen even finished calling almost everyone he could think of.

“Grab a drink and enjoy the show.” invited Silas.

“OK, let’s hear it” someone blurted out.

“Yeah, let’s go! I heard it’s a real banger!” said another.

“Two three four!”

Owen and Silas kicked off their current masterpiece, “Hazy Summer Thunder“.

“Whoo hoo!” and great applause from all their friends as Owen and Silas finish up the song.

“Hey man, you guys are the best, love having you here tonight” said Owen.

“But what about the live audience, the real people at our show tomorrow?“ he asked Silas.

Someone blurted out from the back, “Hey, we are real p…”

“Just forget about it. You can’t please everyone.” talked over a front row guest.

“Exactly. Listen Owen, we can’t control the audience, we can only control ourselves.”

“OK, I’m starting to feel better now” said Owen.

“You’re right, let’s not focus on the outcome, let’s just focus on our performance”.

“Yeah man, that’s exactly right!”

“Encore!” cheered out some friends. Laughing, dancing, and enjoy another round of drinks among friends, Owen and Silas played long into the night.

The next day, with the sun setting on the horizon, a golden hue blanketed the Starlight Summit Amphitheater. The evening sky was a tapestry of pastel colors, hues of lavender, peach and indigo created a mystical backdrop for Owen and Silas’ performance. The amphitheater nestled amidst nature’s embrace, surrounded by lush, swaying trees that whispered secrets into the gentle breeze. The scent of pine and fresh-cut grass filled the air, mingling with the distant aroma of street food and laughter from eager concertgoers. The stage was adorned with string lights resembling dancing fireflies shimmering in their own harmony. A cool summer breeze carried eager cheers and applause from the crowd as Owen and Silas came out on stage.

Starting the set with one of their newer songs, Owen strummed his guitar, strings singing in a resonance that blended with the earthy aroma surrounding the amphitheater. Silas’ bass drove a melodic spell, grounding through the earth in connection with the audience crowded in on the lawn. Melody soared and waned in emotion, audience members felt it from the inside out with the bass driving under flowing guitar riffs. The audience seemed to glow under stage lights, swaying in waves with the music. As Owen and Silas finished their first song of the night, they looked at each other and nodded.

“Welcome to the Shoooooow!” Owen shouted out over the crowd.

The audience roared, phones up like a sea of stars.

“Two three four!”

Owen and Silas kicked off their current masterpiece, “Hazy Summer Thunder“. To Owen’s surprise, the crowd was actually singing along! He couldn’t believe it, a perfect performance for the perfect crowd on the perfect night.

Oh no! No no no!! Owen freaked out inside as feedback cut through the main chorus. The horrendous feedback shattered the ambiance like a lightning strike, causing an involuntary flinch in both the audience and the band. Screeching sounds sliced through the air, then suddenly dropped in an eerie silence.

The audience once immersed in the music, froze in shock, their faces locked in a contortion of surprise and discomfort, like a collective wince. Many covered their ears instinctively, seeking to shield themselves. Murmurs rippled through the crowd among worried glances. Before Owen could react, Silas sprinted over and fixed the amp cord in one shot. A sense of relief swept across the amphitheater like a gentle breeze, and a spontaneous round of applause broke out in appreciation of Silas’ quick response.

With a playful grin, Owen said “Sounds like some demons wanted to spoil our show”

“Yeah, not gonna happen!” said Silas.

Lighthearted laughter echoed among the audience, more from relief than anything.

“Let’s take it from the top brother.”

“Two three four!”

Owen and Silas kicked off “Hazy Summer Thunder“ from the top for a second time. They continued playing through their set, broadcasting beautiful melodies over an enchanted audience. The last song of their set was a crafted rock anthem, intended to leave a lasting impression. As they launched into it, the fast-paced beat with a heavy bass took center stage, driving energy to atmospheric heights. The bass throbbing like Silas’ heartbeat laid a powerful foundation. Its pulse was felt deep in the chest of every concertgoer, pulling them deeper into the music. Owen’s voice soared above his guitar, carrying emotive lyrics like a shooting star across the sky. The combination of the fast beats, bass, and impassioned vocals stirred something deep within the audience. A wave of movement swirled through the crowd like a kinetic force sweeping across the open-air amphitheater. Arms waved in the air, and bodies swayed in perfect rhythm. Strangers connected through music, dancing together like stars in a cosmic ballet.

In the middle of the second chorus, Owen’s mind blanked. His fingers fumbled, forgetting the chord progression. He lifted his hand away slightly, quickly shaking it hoping to reset muscle memory. The crowd’s dancing slowed, not sure what to expect? Quick on his feet, Silas seamlessly shifted into an ad-hoc bass solo. Sparse applause rang out, and a few heads continued to bob in harmony with Silas’ bass-lines. Owen turned his back to the crowd and took a deep breath.

Don’t worry about the outcome, just focus on your performance he reassured himself. After a second deep breath the music returned to his fingers and Owen picked up his rhythm as he snapped back around to face a cheering audience! Silas transitioned back to the track seamlessly, as if nothing had happened, after years of practicing together Owen and Silas were as one. The crowd danced and danced, blanketed in melody. The energy in the atmosphere was palpable, a vibrant buzz that defied the passage of time.

The crowd’s cheers beckoned the band to continue. Feeling an electric connection with the audience, Owen and Silas shared a knowing glance in desire to extend this mystical night. Without a word, they launched into an impromptu encore, to the delight of an ecstatic crowd. Under the canopy of stars the amphitheater was a mystical dance floor with swaying bodies as spirits soared. A cool evening breeze gently embraced, nature itself was in harmony with the music. The audience couldn’t stop dancing, and neither could Owen and Silas. It was a symbiotic exchange of energy, with the band feeding off the crowd’s enthusiasm and the crowd fueled by the band’s passion. Bodies moved and swayed with the music, moonlight graced the crowd, mesmerizing with shadows and light from silhouettes of arms raised high painting a joyous scene against the astral backdrop. A celestial audience of stars above twinkled with delight as they admired the performances below. Their brilliant glimmers reflected the sheer euphoria of the moment, the universe itself was in tune with the music, orchestrating a symphony of lights music and dancing.

Owen closed his eyes as he strummed, immersed in this night of beautiful melodies knowing that he’ll never have to go through hell on his own.

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