June 30, 2010

Reports from the Road by Bryan Devendorf (Glastonbury, Part 2)

Two days ago, The National's Bryan Devendorf resumed his Reports from the Road series with a report from home in anticipation of the band's appearance at the Glastonbury Festival in Pilton. We learned that listening to NPR is a good way to begin a nap, that the car service to the airport was probably not on the up and up, and that Bryan is comfortable with a window seat.

Well, now comes Day Two. The "most-esteemed" Boeing 747 has set down at Heathrow and the twenty hours of R&R commence. What does a drummer do with that kind of time? Read below.

Day Two: Day Off

London, UK
June 25, 2010

In the ongoing film of my life of which I am star, cinematographer, writer, and sole producer, today's events belong with that extensive trove of outtakes and deleted scenes which resides somewhere in the temporal lobe of my brain. I am a drummer in a mid-level band; I am paid to hit things. I'm getting softer. But I am moving ever forward, ever closer to my destination. Thirty-six thousand feet over the Atlantic Ocean, listening to Neu, bobbing my head along to the relentless motorik beats, the words Glastonbury, Glastonbury float across my mind like fugitive clouds in an otherwise clear sky. . .

Our most-esteemed British Airways 747 aircraft touches down safely at Heathrow and by black cab I travel into the city where I rendezvous with the rest of the band and crew in the lobby of an internationally known chain hotel. It's furnished in exotic hardwoods and brushed chrome. At the bar, an archipelago of overstuffed sofas offers a view of the pedestrian traffic moving through the sunlight on Bloomsbury Street. I'm holding a chilled glass of Sancerre, pondering the tiny beads of condensation that have formed around my fingertips. The anonymously chic décor, the workday crowds passing soundlessly by the windows, the mid-tempo dance tracks emanating from unseen speakers all have a tranquilizing effect. Calculated. Soothing. Like something out of Brave New World. I have another sip of wine and I'm thinking abstractly about a dream girl at the center of this one William Gibson novel. I don't remember the title. But she's in peril. Or being pursued maybe? What's the difference? It is the near future. She travels from New York to London which she deems a mirror world. Ordinary things like traffic patterns, electrical outlets, shops, common appliances, all appear familiar to her except they’re flipped around, mirrorwise I guess. My mind wanders further.

I finish my wine and order another glass before heading up to my room where I'm overcome by jet lag, alcohol, and a generalized feeling of dislocation. Promptly, I fall into a dreamless sleep and wake with a start deep in the night, thinking for a moment that I've missed the bus. There's a faint light visible behind the curtains. Lobby call is still a few hours away. I lie awake, thinking, breathing, mouthing a Biggie Smalls lyric that for some reason relaxes me when I repeat it, like the monotony of counting sheep for some people: It’s the N-O-T-O-R-I-O-U-S, you just lay down slow . . . It's the N-O-T-O-R-I-O-U-S, you just lay down slow . . . It's the N-O-T-O-R-I-O-U-S, you just lay down slow . . .


That does it for now - tune in Friday for the Glastonbury wrap-up. And to find out where Bryan plays next, head over to the Shows page. (Special thanks to Mr. November for the illustration.)

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