August 25, 2016
I’m seated on a barstool, not five feet from a low stage. Toni Halliday and Dean Garcia of Curve are there, tuning up before their set. Never heard Toni speak before, only sing. And as she calls out the mic check, there’s an awkwardness about her that is just plain charming.
Dean is clad in a glossy biker jacket. Black jeans. Dark shades. Close-cropped hair, mostly gray. He sets his bass into a stainless guitar stand and steps off stage. He offers some friendly chat as if I were his personal guest or VIP (I’m neither). Not the least bit arrogant. Genuine. I’m flattered and tell him how glad I am they got back together. He grins, lifts his shades, and tells me, he is, as well. We both look up at the stage.
Toni is every bit the goth-y beauty I fell for in my teens. Shrink-wrapped in black fabric. Leather boots up to the knees with straps and buckles. Raven black hair in a bob, framing a face untouched by sunlight. Big, ice blue eyes lined in smoky shadow. She glances about the venue, furtively. Warily. Girlish vulnerability with a woman’s experience and raw confidence that doesn’t give a damn what anyone else thinks. Dean and I both grin at her, smitten.
Dean steps back on stage. The gig kicks off. And it’s fucking loud. Like, A Slight Case of OverBombing loud. But that’s not what I’m thinking. I’m jamming to a band I never thought I’d see live because I missed my chance. That old regret, cured.
As Dean and Toni wind through their catalog, they strum each other as much as their strings. Variations to songs I’ve heard a thousand times, taking risks, pushing, challenging each other to give more, to be more. I can see it even scares them from time to time, but at song’s end their breathless glances shine with excitement. This concert, I finally understand, is for them—they are playing to one another, for one another.
These aren’t lovers in the traditional sense. Maybe once, but no longer. This is more intimate, by far, and doesn’t compare to something so banal as intercourse. A pair completely enmeshed spiritually and emotionally, each comprehending, accepting, forgiving the other with such totality that love only partially describes it. To witness this, only feet away, is more deeply moving than romance or tragedy.
This is art.