Oh my god, I love Austin.
Okay, not as much as Boston, but the second we pulled up to the place, I felt better. There were about fifty fans waiting at the edge of the driveway to greet the bus when we pulled in, waving signs and cheering. Some of them had the “Candlelight” lighters and were waving them. It was after midnight, might have been as late as two in the morning, I’m not sure, and my first thought on seeing them was I hoped the cops hadn’t been giving them too much trouble for camping out. My second thought was how the hell did they know when we were going to show up?
“Ah, my people,” Ziggy said with a faux regal wave from the window. “Can we go out and meet them?”
Carynne looked up from the day book. “Are you asking me?”
“Yeah, I guess.”
“By all means, meet your adoring public,” she said. “But don’t go alone, all right?”
The bus pulled past the fans into a parking area. We had come straight here from Houston, so we’d beat the equipment truck, and we’d beat Megaton, as well. I think they were staying over one more night and driving in the morning. It was only like a three-hour drive.
“Come on, let’s go.” Ziggy was already at the door. Marty laughed when he opened the door.
All four of us went out, even Christian. I worried for about one second when there was a moment of hysteria from the group as they realized we were coming to meet them at the edge of the fence. But then one girl introduced herself as the president of our local fan club. (Fan club? Wow.) And everyone calmed down a lot. Well, somewhat. I think at least one girl was about to cry from happiness.
At first there was a large flurry of autographing, and then the photography started, and I kind of zoned out a bit while it was all stand here, arm around this one, then that one, then one on either side of me, flash bulbs going constantly. Honestly, it was mostly girls, and the few guys there? I got the feeling they were probably boyfriends. It was mellow.
Eventually the demand for photos died down a bit and I actually talked to a few people. The president-girl’s name was Kristah (“with an h” she said, and I had to ask where to put the “h” when I signed an album cover for her) and she introduced me to her sister Melissah, who was from San Francisco. Apparently Melissah ran the fan club in SF, and Kristah ran the one here in Austin, and they were part of a group of about a dozen who were following us around the country.
“Wait, you guys are following us?”
“Well, almost following,” Kristah said. “We couldn’t make it to Dallas or Houston so we just came straight here from San Diego. Oh my god, it’s so great to meet you.”
I almost said “you didn’t miss much” but something stopped me from saying anything negative. “So you’re coming to the show tomorrow? Well, today…”
“It doesn’t count as the next day until we’ve slept,” Ziggy said, cutting into the conversation.
“Yup. We’ve got front row both nights,” Kristah said. She looked a lot like the college students in my neighborhood back in Boston, except with more piercings in one ear. “The whole club. Our mom is even coming tomorrow night.”
“No kidding? And are you coming to New Orleans, too?” I asked.
“Yes! I’ve never been. I hear it’s fabulous.”
“It’s pretty cool. I liked it anyway. Lots of music.”
“You’d like Austin, too. There’s a great music scene here. Oh my god, you guys are so cool.”
The conversation went on like that, punctuated with her occasional exclamations of amazement and happiness about meeting us. I got used to them.
Carynne eventually came out and handed out a bunch of press photos she must have had stashed, which sparked another flurry of autographs, but announced we had to get some sleep and that venue security didn’t want people camping overnight. There was surprisingly little grumbling about that. I guess maybe the fans were happy and ready to go home anyway.
We got back in the bus after that and I was surprised how wiped out I felt. “Did you know that was going to happen?” I asked Carynne.
“No, but was it all right?” She sat down next to where I had collapsed in one corner of the back lounge.
“It was awesome. They were really cool. Did you know that was all organized by these two sisters, one in San Francisco and one here. They’re like… following us like we’re the Dead or something. They’ve got penpals and some kind of online computer thing. One of the other girls writes an alternative music zine. It’s… it’s a whole thing.”
“A whole thing?” Carynne snickered.
“You know what I mean.”
“I do. You’re just funny, that’s all.” She yawned.
Ziggy was in the head. “Where’s Chris?”
“Spending the night with some member of your fan club would be my guess,” she said.
“Maybe a little time away from us would do him some good.”
We sat there in silence a while, thinking about that. I really didn’t worry about him going out with a groupie, though. That is, until he hadn’t come back by soundcheck the next day.