You felt the roar of the crowd and saw them surge towards the stage, screaming into the wind.
You walked out on stage with your bass slung low around your waist and waited in your spot. The lights flared on and the smoke machine whirred into action. Your lead guitarist hammered the first long chord of your song and the crowd drank it in.
Your lead singer danced to the front of the stage and grabbed the microphone violently, “Manchester, are you ready to rock?!”
The crowd shrieked in unison and began clapping their hands together.
And you were lost, lost in the music you guys had worked so hard to create. You didn't even see the crowd any more the lights were that blinding. There was only you and your bass and the vibrations of the melody.
The first song ended and you snapped back into the moment. Before you were men and women, pushing forward against the barrier and dancing, whooping and even...eww, you didn't need to see that...
You turned away from the guy who was groping his girlfriend's tits and grinding against her on the barrier and scanned out to the back.
Someone caught your eye. He was the only one who didn't appear to be into groove, so to speak. He was the only still port in a sea of storming rebellion. A blond man in a beige trenchcoat, shirt and red tie. He took a drag on his cigarette, looking intensely at the band.
You were pretty sure he wasn't supposed to be smoking here, what with the ban and all but nobody appeared to be calling him out on it.
The burning embers of the cigarette lit up his eyes and they had a certain predatory look to them. You would be kinda freaked if he were looking directly at you but he seemed to be concentrating heavily on your lead guitarist, Phoenix. Oh well, you thought, getting ready to strike out the next song. She can handle herself if the creep comes near her later.
The set finished and you left to roaring applause. You felt good, you felt energised. The stage was where you belonged.
“Fuck yeah!” screamed Roxy, your singer. “That was well ace!”
You all huddled in a pile, hugging each other and laughing loudly. The comedown was always a fun part after the gig and you heaped into the backstage area grabbing drinks.
Amidst the chants of “down it!” and “just have one more!” you brave the question, “Hey did anyone see the mega creeper at the back?”
“Who do you mean?” Valentine, your drummer asked, setting his bottle down on the counter.
“Some guy at the back near the bar in a trenchcoat and full suit practically. He was really staring hard.”
“Oh hun,” Roxy said, shaking the glittery hair extensions out of her head. “Lots of guys stare.”
“No I'm serious! He was totally still and just staring, not even moving to the beat.”
“Ah yeah,” Phoenix said, dragging a make up wipe down one half of her face. “I think I saw who you mean? Red tie?”
“That's him!” you say.
“Yeah he gave out proper weirdo vibes. Looked a bit old to be going to a punk gig as well. I wouldn't worry though, chick, if he hangs around the bouncers will throw him out.”
You laugh, not fully though because you still can't shake the intensity of that look he gave. You tried to put it out of your mind and enjoy the aftershow party. You grabbed a fistful of Malteasers and stuffed them in your mouth, chewing earnestly, trying to keep your energy going with a cheap sugar high.
Night set in and you were quite tipsy by now. You knew when you'd reached your limit though so you declined Valentine trying to get you to neck some mystery shot that was more likely to be paint stripper than anything tasty.
You checked your phone, two am. Man, you were ready for a good sleep by now.
“I'm heading out!” you call to the group.
They rush over and give you a flurry of sloppy hugs and drunken kisses on the cheek before letting you go, you're pretty sure Phoenix grabbed your arse as well.
“Love you babes!” they shouted.
You laughed at their obviously wasted state and walked to the rear exit, pushing the bar and feeling the cold air hit you. It was wonderfully refreshing.
You stepped out into the light rain. Ah fuck, well, it was Manchester after all. You should really learn to carry an umbrella with you.
A voice next to you made you jump.
“Got a light, love? Me lighter's just packed in.”
You whirl around and see him. The trenchcoat guy. You stare at him agape. Why was he still here?!
“Catching flies, lass?” he asked again, smirking. He was obviously a Scouser by the accent. Just what you needed. Scousers weren't famed for their gentile nature,
You shake yourself, “I don't smoke, sorry.”
“Probably a good thing. Everyone's on a health kick these days so I should probably cut down.”
“Why are you here?”
“Came to watch the gig,” he retorted slyly.
“You know what I mean, don't be a prick.”
“Ooo,” he says, pursing his lips. “Mouthy bird, I like it. Alright alright, fair. I'm waiting for your guitarist.”
“She's a lesbian, she won't be interested.” you state bluntly.
“I'm not after shagging her, Jesus Christ!” he protested.
“Why do you want to see her?” you ask, warily.
“Need to have a chat, she knows me.”
“Funny,” you say, with a raised eyebrow. “She acted like she's never seen you before when I pointed you out.”
You see the cogs turning in his brain as he grasps for how to get out of the lie.
“You've got one minute to explain yourself before I call security out here,” you growl.
“Alright, no need to get your knickers in a twist!” he cries, holding his hands up. “Your mate stole something from me about a month ago and I want it back.”
“What did she steal?” you ask, still not quite believing him. “Maybe I've seen it around.”
“Maybe you have,” he said and stepped closer to you.
You could see him more clearly now he'd come into the security spotlight. He sported some rough stubble and seemed to always wear a default expression you'd term as 'arrogant little shit'.
“It looks like a wooden box, pretty plain, save for the fact on the top it's got a carved face on it.”
“Sounds pretty generic?” you scoff.
“Trust me, love, you'd remember it if you'd seen it.”
“Well she's not coming out any time soon so why don't you try arranging a chat through the band manager rather than hanging around like a creepy stalker fan.”
He gave you a raised eyebrow like he was mortally offended, “Creepy stalker fan?! Listen here, love, I don't give ten shits for your shite music. It's not even punk. It's just a crap parody. I just want what your mate has taken from me. Nothing more.”
“Woah woah!” you say, pointing your finger at him. “No need to get fucking nasty okay? You don't see me insulting your day job! And besides, do you really think staring her out during the gig and then hanging around in a dark alley is the best way to go about that?”
Annoyance flashes across his face. Annoyance that you're right.
“Fine, you wanna do this by the book with your manager and stuff, I'll leave you my card. You can get him to call me but do it urgently. I don't have much time.”
He hands you a small white square of card and you take it without even looking, fully intending to drop it in the gutter the second he leaves.
“Don't even think about throwing it away,” he says, catching your look.
He looks down to button his coat up further and you take the opportunity to stick your tongue out at him. It's childish for sure but it makes you feel good.
“Unless you're suggesting we do some tongue aerobics together I would put that back in your mouth,” he chides, not even looking up at you.
You're kinda speechless. Firstly, you have no idea how he saw that and secondly...tongue aerobics? Did he mean kissing you?
He finishes with his coat and takes in your startled look and winks, flashing a cheeky smile.
“Remember, love, get that card to your manager ASAP.”
He turns to walk down the alley.
You look at the card in your hand.
Exorcist, Demonologist and Master of the Dark Arts.
“Master of the Dark Arts?!” You call after him, bewildered.
He turns around to you and chuckles. “I really must get those redone. Call it more, a petty dabbler.”
And with that he turns back and then out of sight down a side street.
You stare at the card again.
Exorcist? What the fuck?! Was he some creepy cult guy?
Oh Phoenix, you think to yourself. What the fuck have you let yourself in for?