What do you do when you lose your mind?
When I was living in the city, I would retreat to the desert for a brain reset. But now I live in the desert, so my only solution was to retreat to another desert. I got a targeted ad for Bob Mould on tour and saw one of the gigs was in Palm Springs. That’s close enough to me for a day trip, but far enough to consider it another desert.
I dusted off some cameras and was off early in the day so I could take my time and make as many pit stops as I want. Big news I found on this journey: Walmart gas station has Beyond Meat jerky. Vegans can now let their freak flag fly in a convenience store.
I enjoy making large format photos because it forces me to slow down and focus on immersing myself in the process. Ironically enough the only large format camera I currently own is a Speed Graphic, and I rushed through processing the film without fully preparing my work area, or fully closing my developing canister. My initial idea for these articles was to include personal photos alongside show photos with my experience of the day, but it doesn’t really make sense anymore.
If you’re interested in seeing my photos through abandoned towns in the desert from this trip, I’ve posted them on my Instagram.
But I digress.
With the absence of life comes the absence of time, and I ended up bouncing around these dead towns longer than I originally intended. As the sun had begun to set, so did my dramatization of the Tralfamadorian experience. I rolled into Palm Springs just in time to see Bob setting up on the stage.
I got this photo of him and right after another of his setlist in the guitar case, but his arm blocked it on accident. He apologized so earnestly, but I think it made the photo cooler.
There was still some time before he was scheduled to play so I hit the bar, that just so happened to be free drinks all night. I stopped drinking recently but I can’t pass this up and I have no idea what to do with myself at a bar where I don’t know anyone. I ordered a tonic with lime and flowered the wall.
Bob officially hits the stage and starts off with "The War" straight into "Flip Your Wig." He was bouncing all over the place and just straight rockin’ out with such stamina as if he never left 1985.
Time has not affected him as it has me, last time I came out of stage dive retirement I was out of commission for three days.
In between songs he does a little banter. It turns out he’s newly a resident to Palm Springs and very excited to take the town by storm once this tour is over. Someone shouts out something ecstatically while he was about to start a song, he stops everything and asks the bodyless voice to repeat themselves. They do, reluctantly and with much less exuberance.
“Generation X punks say yeah…”
Bob responds, “Well, I’m much older than that. I’ve got a room on hold over at Desert Regional [Medical Center].”
I noticed an older woman on the opposite side of the stage from me rocking out, horns up and all. She seemed out of place. Like she didn’t seem to be familiar with his music and was just a weekend warrior out on the town, but it wouldn’t make sense for someone to just be hanging out at a bar that cost $32 to get into, but the open bar would make her rocker cosplay act make complete sense.
She eventually settled down and seated herself onto the steps leading to the stage. Bob was polite and engaged with all hecklers throughout the night but ignored her obnoxious shouts. This made me much more confident in my newfound sobriety.
It's pretty difficult to make interesting photos of one person playing a solo guitar show and flash wasn’t appropriate for the situation, so this is where creativity with multimedia art comes in and you make a collage of your own photos.
In all, he played 24 songs with a good chunk of Hüsker Dü and Sugar songs in the mix. He’s twice my age and somehow holding up better than me. My knees and back were wrecked by the end of it.
I stuck around until the crowd subsided and set up for a quick portrait while doing my best to punish him as little as possible.
Help Support What No Echo Does via Patreon: