A rollercoaster through yourself

The rain monotonously pounds on the floor-to-ceiling window, obscuring the twinkling lights of the city. Murmurs disperse across the room. Small parties of people, dressed to the nines, clink glasses and emit hearty laughs. Your gaze turns from the rumbling clouds to the noise of a piano.

Hands fly across the keys, building up high and forcing that twinge in your stomach to release. Just as your captured in, the volume drops, and she walks in. Satin gown sparkling. Jewellery shining.

As she looks your way and smiles, the intro dissipates for a split second. You feel your heartbeat thudding, trying to recover the rhythm it’s just lost. Then Dave Le’aupepe of Gang of Youths begins to croon.

There’s a moose head hanging from a wall at a bar, at a nondescript part of the street

It’s not jazz, but it speaks to the soul. You do all the gentlemanly things as the band take it away. You unbutton your vest and sit regally after ushering her into her seat. You immediately ensure she has a drink on the way. You eagerly begin to start light conversation, more invested then you have ever been.

The piano verse makes the room come to life in a low-key sense. The lights dim slightly. Rain falls to the background – a familiar sheet of comforting sound. But as you strain your eyes to listen to her while she talks, your brain and heart transition to the music. The crispness of the piano. Dave’s hearty voice.

Because we were raised where the pastor they danced in the aisles, with a mosh pit up front full of youths.

It’s this slight shift that reminds your inner self. The smallest of switches are flicked. Darkness from the stormy night sky seep through the massive windows, sliding through the glass and flying into your soul. As you try and control your breathing, you feel the darkness creeping into your brain. Soon, the anxiety curls its way into a fist, and you’re blinded from seeing her beauty.

The drums kick in. A crescendo of guitar. Time stops, the band shattering the gorgeous aura they worked so hard to lay down. The only movement lays with this collection of men lost in their own sound. After an eon of elation, they pound their instruments and lay into the core of ‘Fear and Trembling’ – a recollection of Le’aupepe’s inner insecurities and doubts from his intriguing life.

But none of that enters your mind – you’re too busy trying to clear your head. To disperse the clouds and stop the internal rain. It happens every time, but this time you had it under control. You had her smiling and laughing – not just those conciliatory chuckles, but a hearty, throaty, high-pitched cackle that hints at a snort but stays dignified enough to match the environment. Her slender hands, nimble enough to manipulate a piano, find the edge of your fingers. Sparks fly, and you can feel yourself spiralling down the bottomless pit of your brain.

I’m a crier and a fighter, not a faker and a fraud

The band have now descended into complete anarchy. Your blood boils. The drums control your heartbeat, and the passionate vocals fire up every protective instinct your body wills open itself. Before you know it, you’re lost in the throws in the chorus, recoiling in your seat and scrunching into a ball. The world is full of danger, and you aren’t yet strong enough to navigate it.

Then light it up, the shadow’s in my blood

Oh a weary heart, they say, it shatters it all

This routine of build-up and intensity remains ongoing. You get brief glimpses of her face. Slight sensory feeling of her smooth fingers caressing your knuckle. When the singing stops and the instrumentals bring it back down to another verse, you see the clouds sweep away and you get another look at her eyes. Her gorgeous smile.

It takes until the final act for you to think. The world isn’t against you tonight. You have tormented yourself for so long; now you have nothing to worry about. Suddenly you notice her again, and can make a joke. A weary wisecrack, that makes your head heavy and your eyelids ache with tiredness.

And now I’m terrified of loving because I’m terrified of pain, and of missing out on human things by cowering away

This time, you embrace the music, and acknowledge the wizardry behind it. For it has made you feel things, both crippling and enthralling. The night goes forward, and you overcome your anxiety. As you settle the bill and escort her by her hand out of the luxurious restaurant, you see Le’aupepe and his band smiling at you, letting the gruelling guitar finish a journey of a song. Then, the night sky blanks over, and the clouds can no longer be seen.


Stereo Story # 574

More of Sean’s pieces: Maggie Rogers, Post Malone, Tash Sultana, Sticky Fingers, Ocean Alley…

Sean Mortell is a journalism student who is enraptured by the joys of both sport and music. He wishes for the day that the likes of Ed Sheeran and Coldplay can be sighted in the same place as the Collingwood Football Club or the Australian cricket team. He writes for our partner sites The Footy Almanac and Almanac Music.