At the Phoebe Bridgers concert, young women are dropping one after another in the heat. It quickly becomes normalised. One song is interrupted as security go to someone’s aid; the next time this happens so fluidly the band just keep on playing. There is a constant stream of plastic glasses, filled with water, passed back through the crowd to those in need. Like a task in some farcical gameshow, the further back the glasses get, the less water is left in the glass from all the commotion.
It almost feels like seeing the Beatles in their prime — the mythological atmosphere, the screaming, the fainting, the heat of the room and of the moment, the almost inaudible Bridgers, her delicate but powerful voice floating over a crowd that knows every word to every song and sings them collectively almost as loud as she does. But the comparison is of course misleading; an easy, even lazy, even sexist, pop-cultural reference point. There is nothing hysterical about this adulation, nor the bodily response to the humidity. It feels like everyone is here for some sort of catharsis and it enraptures the bodies present in different ways.
Personally, about three-quarters of the way into Bridgers’ set, I feel my right leg cramp up. We are stood just in front of the soundboard. I’m aware of the people in front of me, the boyfriends of some girls present, who smell pungent. I misjudge one of the men, a Scouse lad who seems initially disinterested and only there for his girlfriend. I think about the jokes made on Twitter: the “Boyfriends of Bisexual Girls” conferences that are said to take place in the bathrooms at Phoebe Bridgers shows. I look around and wonder who might fall into this category and think I have this man pegged, before I watch over his shoulder as he mouths along inaudibly to every word.
At the same time, I’m very aware of those directly behind me, a group of girls who sing along loudly and proudly, seemingly unperturbed by being squeezed against the hard metal barrier. I suppose it is at least something solid to lean against. I instead feel stuck in place, feeling my size, feeling the bodies around me, not wanting to encroach on anyone’s personal space whilst feeling like I have none of my own left to give. I wobble and shift my weight, trying to stretch the muscles in my dehydrated thighs, but have no room to do so, leaning on a friend to massage myself, take the weight off for a few moments, which feels somewhat perverse in such a constricted space: to deal with the bodily paroxysm and the intimate distraction of a personal experience set apart from the one being shared.
One of the women stood directly behind me thinks I’m due to become another casualty of the venue’s humidity. “He’s about to faint.” It’s as if I might as well have fainted, losing control of just one limb, unsteady on my feet, given over to a rousing pain rather than heat-induced narcolepsy. But I’m not going to faint, I tell my friend loud enough so that those around me are also reassured. But I do feel claustrophobic. I feel contained. Restrained. I push through the feeling to sing along, scream, clap, whistle. I wish I could cry. The enclosure of the crowd feels medicative. My friend cries throughout and I hold her and laugh at her but don’t mean to. I explain later how I can either laugh or cry, but most often the former — humour as defense mechanism. In fact, I desperately want to join her in her release but the music doesn’t quite wash over me how I want it to, restricted by the undulating mass of bodies, passing in and out of space and consciousness.
All of this leads to an unexpected dynamic in the room. Bridgers and band mostly play songs from her most recent album, Punisher — an understated and quiet record, and a staple for me (as it was for many) during the pandemic, that is fleshed out and brought more alive on stage. The performance is brilliant, the stage design perfect, but everything struggles against the same heat. Instruments malfunction, the enormous projection begins to stutter as laptop and/or projector overheat. Nothing is affected in any way that matters, but the whole room feels poised on the brink of chaos and catastrophe.
I catch sight of a girl a few meters ahead of me, keeping herself cool with a copy of Anne Carson’s Autobiography of Red, using it as a fan to waft air over her face and the faces of her friends. “Up against another human being one’s own procedures take on definition.”
At certain moments, I feel a breeze and wonder where it is coming from. It is only halfway through the show that I realise each breath of air blown over the room only bathes the crowd in between songs. The venue becomes cold as the band stop vibrating the air within it. The whole environment feels suitably punishing, skirting the edge of disaster, but the band plays on regardless, unphased. Not uncaring, in fact very considerate, but holding on tight to their desire to put on a good show. And they do, a magnificent show, which is all the more affirming for their steadiness and control and fury in the both stagnant and swirling air. It is a performance filled with joy and sadness, passion and anger, humour and tears, but in that space, for the crowd present, none of this feels in any way responsive to the world outside. The band, almost literally, conducts the weather in the room, and it is the audience that stand with and withstand it.
The day before heading to Manchester, I cried all day. The strange feeling of being back in touch with reality, and subsequently having to deal with it. I have no money. I have effectively bankrupt myself following three months of mental illness and an inability to work. It feels irresponsible to even be going on this trip to see Bridgers and her band, and I am anxious all day that remaining committed to the trip may be the wrong decision to make. But if I am at present mostly worried about money, it seems wasteful to abandon a trip for which all the money has already been spent, with everything booked at the end of last year.
I just need to get through the next couple of months. But I cry and cry at the acceptance of it all, at the reality. I cry to the crisis team, who visit me for one final time before discharging me (for now; “in the kindest way, we hope we never see you again”, the nurse who has visited me most frequently says as she leaves). They seem concerned but encouraged by my despair as I tell them that I don’t know how I can come back from this. Everything in my life feels tainted by this illness and the prospect of rebuilding my life is one I am terrified of facing. In many ways, I feel like I have ruined my life, I tell them. And yes, maybe I have, but this is still the reality. My distress at the consequences of my own actions is, at the very least, proportionate. That was not how this whole thing started.
Later, I cry to my flatmate also and we hug repeatedly, as if we have finally found a way to reconnect over the void of illness, as if my tears are recognised as real, as objectively correlated to present circumstances, understandable rather than hysterical. It is healthy. My despair is within the parameters of “normal” human emotion. But I hate it all the same. I have no idea what normal is anymore.
The band’s support act are Sloppy Jane, a band that Bridgers has brought up alongside her on her rise to fame, and with whom she used to play. It’s a brave performance — noisy and experimental. The band start the evening with an instrumental for strings, swooning between delicacy and dissonance.
I wonder how it will set the tone but the crowd laps it up. Before they leave, frontwoman Haley Dahl asks how everyone’s year has been and explains an atemporal ritual the band often perform. They love New Year’s Eve, the sense of starting over afresh, of leaving the past behind, of moving on with your life and looking ahead. But they also recognise that, sometimes, it is the sort of ritual that is warranted more than once a year. Towards the end of their final song, they do a fake countdown to midnight. I relish it.
Still, there is the echo of less fondly remembered cultural tastes from my teens in their opening set, now newly nostalgic for a generation who weren’t there the first time. There’s a cover of the My Chemical Romance song, “Cancer”, thrown in there somewhere — a band recently reunited that I must admit I never liked the first time round. I struggle to get on board with this ominous return of “dark cabaret”. I intuitively reject the “theatre kid” vibe that emanates from it, the performativity at work here that is nonetheless both relatable and repulsive, affirming and alienating, with Dahl feeling like some contemporary amalgam of Florence Welch and Amanda Palmer.
Bridgers herself floats somewhere in between this vibe and her own — a product of this same theatrical world shared with her peers but one that seems less alien to the introverted, who do not trust the masks of actors, seeing them always for what they are, their training in the art of self-(re)presentation — which is not a gendered affliction, to be clear, but an occupational hazard.
It is an uneasiness that feels more honestly captured on a song like “Halloween”, with its chorus — “Baby, it’s Halloween / And we can be anything” — and its closing refrain — “I’ll be whatever you want” — wrestling with a theatrical sense of agency and an insecurity that can fuel a deceptive malleability. The same feeling is captured on “Chinese Satellite”, which echoes around my head for the rest of the weekend. The song’s opening lines: “I’ve been running around in circles / Pretending to be myself / Why would somebody do this on purpose / When they could do something else?”
I am being drawn into various friends’ interest in astrology. I use my adoption records to plot my birth chart, giving me my exact time and place of birth. On a phone app called The Pattern — an ominous-sounding name, if you ask me — the reading is deeply accurate, deeply resonant. Another friend uses another app but for a type of astrology I persistently forget the name of. The person described in this chart is not recognisable to me at all, but is rather someone who I would want to be. On the train home to Newcastle, the chorus to “Chinese Satellite” continues its orbit around my head. “I want to believe.”
I also want to go for a cigarette. When we get off at Leeds, I look for the exit. Travelling makes me anxious, perhaps more than anything else. I feel my friend witnessing another side to me, not as yet fully uncovered, not the person they have so far gotten to know. Set against the reckless abandon and impulsivity I am often capable of, I am just as capable of indecision and over-caution. The latter is made banally and humorously apparent in my desire for a hit of nicotine. There is not much time between our connections. Do I go for a cigarette to calm down and ground myself and then stress myself out again with the rush back? Or do I hold off for an hour and a half and just weather the jitters of the nicotine craving? I could have a cheeky one at the end of a platform maybe, my friend suggests, but I daren’t risk a telling-off. She laughs and calls me a secret square, entertained and surprised, having more recently seen me at my most impulsive, for better and for worse. “I’m a walking contradiction”, I reply with a humoured frown. I am the impatient patient, all too aware that my true self is smothered under trauma and mental illness.
I think about how these different birth charts account for such “circumstances” — life events that may alter, obscure or distort the self. It makes astrology, at its most interesting, feel like a kind of astral stoicism: it is not about predicting the future or plotting out one’s destiny, but rather mapping out your own resilience, your capacity, the likely nature of your responses to the chaos of the universe, as if the cosmic contingency of the positions of the stars and planets at the time of your birth, as seen from the place of your birth, says something about how your self has been formed at that moment. As a practice within daily life, it feels no different, in some respects, to the understanding of certain generations of people — how people of a certain age were shaped by war, terror, viruses, natural disasters; the social and material conditions of a given era; the incompatibilities between generations and both the causal and noncausal attitudes that develop throughout history. Those uneasy structures of feeling. We understand the nature of an age group by its position within the chaos of time, which nonetheless may help us to characterise and predict their behaviours and beliefs. I’m reminded of Deleuze’s comment that astrology “was perhaps the first important attempt to establish a theory of alogical incompatibilities and noncausal correspondences.” Today we can call it market research, if you prefer — astrology as market research for Bataille’s general economy of the cosmos.
Prevaricating over being too old for the concert, filled with teenage girls and the occasional dad, I remember the lyrics to the boygenius song, “Me & My Dog”, which Bridgers sometimes performs solo. “I cried at your show with the teenagers”, she sings with Lucy Dacus and Julien Baker.
I think about Bridgers as the unlikely pop star, the idol to youth and peer to those on the cusp of middle-age (or, at the very least, their 30s); the straddler, the cocksure melancholic, the affirmative crazy, the hysterical icon; a woman who is welcomed by screams like I’ve never heard, a sapphic goddess to teenagers everywhere at the centre of her own universe, which feels so proximal to my own. Totem to the bisexual, bipolar and non-binary, I spend much of the weekend thinking about just how many of those words I truly feel a kinship with.
Before the concert, in much the same headspace, my friend and I visit Queer Lit, an independent LGBTQ+ bookshop in Manchester’s Northern Quarter. I buy three books, although I am tempted by many more: the selected poems of Frank O’Hara, Qiu Miaojin’s Notes of a Crocodile and Jeanette Winterson’s The Powerbook. I am drawn to each for their queer engagement with unstable identities and selves, but also for their sense of perseverance in the face of such instability. The first poem in the O’Hara collection, for instance, is entitled “Autobiographia Literaria” and I buy it on the basis of this alone:
When I was a child
I played by myself in a
corner of the schoolyard
I hated dolls and I
hated games, animals were
not friendly and birds
If anyone was looking
for me I hid behind a
tree and cried out “I am
And here I am, the
center of all beauty!
writing these poems!
Winterson’s book intrigues for its premise: an indeterminate e-writer (blogger?) writes commissions on the precondition you make the story written for you entirely your own; a journey through online masks written in the year 2000.
Notes of a Crocodile intrigues for its fragmentary nature, its literary form reflecting the uncertainty explored, all set in a Taiwanese university.
I am yet to spend much time with any of them.
On buying the books, the cashier wraps them in yellow tissue paper, fastened with a pink sticker. The sticker features a quotation from Bob Paris that perfectly encapsulates my attraction to all three:
Every gay and lesbian [LGBTQ+] person who has been lucky enough to survive the turmoil of growing up is a survivor. Survivors always have an obligation to those who will face the same challenges.
As they loosely wrap the books, I chat to the cashier about Jeanette Winterson in particular, the only writer of the three I can claim to be somewhat familiar with already, but whose fiction I have never read; whose second adoption memoir (of sorts), Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?, was deeply inspiring to me. The cashier said that they knew Winterson briefly, whilst a Master’s student in Manchester, where Winterson is Professor of Creative Writing. They said they had always been curious about Winterson’s own identity, regarding her sexuality and/or gender. She explored these themes constantly in her fiction, but personally seemed reticent to adopt any sort of label.
I told her briefly about my own journey, my own reticence, my tentative exploration of feeling non-binary, my own interest in Winterson via her adoption memoirs, her wrestling with unstable identities. I mention the statistic that often puzzles me, that intrigues me and makes me wonder about my own experiences: that children who are adopted, fostered, or grow up in care, are disproportionately affected by gender dysphoria, with 4-5% of people within this already small minority choosing to transition or identifying as non-binary, compared to just 1-2% of the general population. “Why do you think that is?” I have no idea, of course. I say it may have something to do with the adoptive experience, the sense of split identity, but I cringe at myself when I say this, hoping it does not come across as some academic pathologisation of dysphoric experience, which I do not in fact think should be considered some error or maladaptation but be considered a valid way of being in its own right, irrespective of whether trauma compounds certain feelings or not.
“What’s this song about, Marshall?” Bridgers asks her drummer before playing her most recent single, “Sidelines”, written for the television adaptation of Sally Rooney’s Conversations with Friends. He attempts to tell a story about when he and Bridgers were dating, walking around a supermarket and seeing someone whose name I do not catch, someone presumably famous or respected, certainly known to and admired by both of them.
He feels an intuitive jealousy and catches himself in the irrational fantasy that this person might be about to steal his girlfriend. He trails off, seeming endearingly less comfortable with the confessional than Bridgers herself. “Basically, this song is about fear of abandonment.” Yet more tearful singing along.
I read a few interviews with Bridgers once back at home and learn that Marshall Vore first began writing the song himself, in collaboration with his current girlfriend, before handing the idea over to Bridgers instead. How cathartic, to abandon a song about abandonment, or rather not abandon it at all, but allow it to grow and move on with someone else.
I feel sensitive. Back in Newcastle, waiting at the bus stop, a young boy plays pattycake with his mam. I catch myself smiling at them, then frowning to myself. Children are great but I feel afraid of their innocence, their easily acquired joy, their weightlessness in a world that feels so heavy to me.
I have noticed a recurrent conversation of late: friends talking about starting families, queer or otherwise. We’re getting to that age, I suppose. A few talk about the difficulty of finding partners, the disinterest in the biological process of birth, but a desire to care, raise and nurture nonetheless. Multiple people this week have told me that they are thinking about settling down on their own and adopting. I squirm in my seat, not because I think they would be at all unfit, but knowing the internal dramas of being an adoptee, the complexities often unthought of. “I’ll just adopt”, as if anything were so simple, as if adoption were somehow simpler than raising a child of one’s own. But I have no intention of discouraging or disparaging, only cautioning. I too would like to adopt, after all, but only because I think who better to help an adoptee navigate the peculiarities of their own experiences than someone who has lived a version of them for themselves.
Maybe one day, when I have dealt with my own abandonment issues. Maybe it doesn’t matter at all. Maybe we’re all just fuck-ups who need the more honest company of other self-accepting fuck-ups.
At the concert, the tumult of adolescence on full display, which may wane for some or define the rest of their lives ahead. Many girls wander around with pronounced scars from self-harm and cutting. I feel a deep affection towards them. I think about my own: those marks that feel even less at home on a thirty-year-old body, its revolt against itself less expected, somehow more disturbing. The weight of the world is felt more quickly by some than others. It doesn’t get lighter in my experience, though we may get stronger.
On the train home, I keep reading Kate Zambreno’s Heroines. She writes persistently about her attempt to examine and bring back to life the women of modernism. Entering part two of the book, Zambreno’s questions regarding her own project feel no less closer to being answered, although it seems that the attempt itself may be all that is required to jumpstart the static heart of suppressed modernist feminism. She asks of herself:
Can I examine any of these brilliant girls as heroines of a sort? Were they heroines? They were ultimately silenced and contained, institutionalized in asylums, where they experienced dehumanizing, degrading treatment. They suffered terribly (bodily, psychically). Also institutionalized in literary works that stole their identities.
Bridgers, introducing “Chinese Satellite”, recalls the experience of being accosted by an evangelical in Chicago, someone really “crazy”, she says, “and I don’t use that word lightly”; someone denouncing her out of the blue as a whore and a child of Jezebel. I think about the new insanity not of women but those who denounce them. I think about the way that Vore allows himself to become a literary (or at least lyrical) character, portrayed by Bridgers instead. The legacy of those modernist women, almost lost to history, persists nonetheless in women themselves.
Zambreno tries to locate the subtleties of characterisation in modernism, singling out Djuna Barnes and Tennessee Williams, who certainly turned real-life relations into spaces for the production of literature, but who did so with love and tenderness. Later, the ways that Mary McCarthy tried, with love and care, to make a new character of herself:
In the first story in Mary McCarthy’s strikingly contemporary collection The Company She Keeps, the young wife has an affair, but McCarthy makes clear that she is doing this in order to be a character again in a new drama, to be seen and reinterpreted anew. From then on the character becomes again the single girl in the city, sleeping with or involved with a string of inappropriate men, and then, at the end, remarried, but in therapy (both therapy and affairs forms of transference practiced by these women, both perhaps about being your own character again).
I daydream about the drawn-out process of writing “Sidelines”, the confluence of relations involved, the necessarily fraught (no doubt) but careful conversations with friends, the chorus taking on a new tenderness as masks, blurry outlines of selves, are not only erased but exchanged and drawn anew.
Watch the world from the sidelines
Had nothing to prove
‘Til you came into my life
Gave me something to lose
Now I know what it feels like
To wanna go outside
Like the shape of my outline
It hurts to listen to, having felt like I have almost lost everything, and wanting to defiantly gain everything all the same. Still, the masks, the outlines. It is harder to go outside than one might think.
On a night out recently, I see a girl looking intensely at me. I interpret this stare in the only way I know how. I find an excuse to talk to her, flirt with her, but she is already involved with someone else. We become friends regardless. I later ask why she was staring. “I knew you were a writer.” I don’t know what that means, I say, perhaps reading a little too much into the identification. But I didn’t feel like a writer then. In fact, I felt foolish for mistaking this desire to get to know me as more romantic than creative. After all, I am not a writer, I think to myself. Or rather, that is not all I am. I am not the writer whom I have sporadically written into existence.
What is embodied on stage at the concert is, for me, instead etched on the page. I am not my blog, I am not “xenogothic”, though people occasionally ask if I am. “Yes”, I say and blush-cringe every time. No, is what I should say. I am not this cypher, no matter how much of my personal truth is spoken through it. The performance and theatricality of my writing is perhaps that I am far more candid here than I can be elsewhere. I see this same performativity on stage at the Apollo. These men and women are not the songs they sing, though they may contain more about them than they would candidly admit to friends and especially to the crowds who nonetheless memorise every word.
Zambreno discusses her own erasure, online and IRL, the disparity between modes of expression that take shape between the two:
Yet when things are too intense, when I cannot do anything productive, I can still blog the emotional upheavals and anxieties of my current and changing existence. I compulsively blog through the slog and sludge of my days. Anais Nin’s “opium habit” of her diary that Otto Rank wanted to cure her from. Gratifying to know I have readers at the other end, fellow writers from around the world writing me little notes of encouragement in the comments sections. The Internet cages me. The Internet also allows me to communicate through the day, a dialogue. It allows me to fight against my own erasure.
In the flesh, I barely appear, feeling inscrutable, untouchable, set aside. Some see this and use it to compliment me. I talk about dating, I talk about friends setting me up, I flirt with the idea of a companionship I am undoubtedly not ready for, but then obsess over this apparent confounding of people who seem to see me as somehow out of reach for other reasons.
I ask a friend if she knows anyone who might be good for me to meet. She struggles. “I don’t know anyone worthy of you.” Another friend, weeks later: “You must date someone of your calibre.” What worth? What calibre? I’m a flawed human being like any other. Is this not just a further projection of the apparent value of my writing onto my experience of self? Unlike these performers and musicians, I cannot yet wear the mask proudly.
My response every time is the same, no matter how the well-meaning compliment is phrased, trying not to sound ungrateful for their admiration, even if I disparaging feel like it is misplaced: “What does that even mean?” What is this pedestal I have constructed, or others have constructed for me, out of this towering word count of inane and automatic thoughts published recklessly online, that somehow turns me into a character, an archetype, that cages me and yet allows me to communicate, that inevitably renders friendships and relationships one-dimensional as I try to draw on my half — the only half truly available — of any social interactions, all in the hope that, through a kind of translation, I can better understand and describe the world around me.
I am writing about myself; I am writing about others. Both impulses are worthy of questioning and yet the chronicling of a life lived would be so empty without reference to my conversations with friends.
I think about Zambreno’s journey, her unease at being clearly demarcated as a “wife of”. I reflect on my last relationship, where I feel like, at times, my own dreams and desires dictated our locale, just as Zambreno’s husband’s career comes to dictate her own. Never wanting my ex to feel like a “partner of” or a “carer of”, this was no doubt a major factor in our drifting apart.
A decade of heteronormativity, which was loved and cherished and remains so even retrospectively, is now struggled against. That decade of habits formed, feeling at once masculine in my self and wanting to affirm the femininity of my writing, swapping both, the out for the in.
I look back on a relinquished domestic arrangement that was messy and complex and far from equal; that perhaps fell too readily into certain stereotypical gendered roles, or sometimes even uncomfortably inverted them. How do I feel now, with this recent history in mind, identifying as non-binary? Internally, I feel content with it, but outwardly, I feel anything but. I worry I am always falling into binaries of relation, or struggling to negotiate the binaries that make up a newly entered multitude.
I think of a recent flirtation, and a subsequent discarding that felt prefigured by my embodied masculine existence, despite the conversations around gender that lay the foundation for an initially vibrant friendship. I fall into an old pattern of thinking, triggered by a feeling of abandonment, but actually it was so much more than that. I try to validate someone else’s new affirmation, whilst feeling brutally invalidated myself in the process. I hold onto no resentment over the messy way in which the relation changed, but I consider the ways that it nonetheless wholly ungrounded my newly emergent sense of self.
“Sidelines” takes on a further lyrical potency. Such complex relationships, which are often many things at once: ill-defined, crossing boundaries, erasing boundaries, always talking about boundaries of friendship, dating, intimacy and tenderness, and the instability of all of it. The impossibility, at present, and perhaps for the rest of time, of anything absolute.
Tomorrow I need to call the government call centre to try and acquire PIP — that is, an ongoing Personal Independence Payment — a disability benefit for those with long-term and chronic conditions. It seems like something I am unworthy of, having no visible disability, but all the psychiatric nurses, doctors and social workers believe I have a very strong case if I am willing to fill out the lengthy form necessary to acquire it.
This in turn shifts my sense of self. I must accept that this recent collapse is not a singular event but part of an ever-escalating series of collapses, shatterings, upheavals; the culmination of only ever partially treated symptoms and disorder that has stalked me since my teenage years. I know now that I must learn to renegotiate life as someone with a chronic illness. “That sounds really healthy”, my friend says as I run through my plans for the forthcoming day of life admin as we travel back from Manchester to Newcastle, both laughing at the contradiction — the healthy acceptance of chronic ill-health.
After the show, we meet up with two fellow Newcastle denizens and confirm through unified laughter how we each feel utterly destroyed. The show ended — obviously, necessarily, unavoidably, perfectly — with Punisher‘s closer, “I Know the End”. I remember how central the song was to my listening habits before making the move to Newcastle, feeling like I was leaving behind a home and a family to start over again, but even then not absolutely:
Either way, we’re not alone
I’ll find a new place to be from
A haunted house with a picket fence
To float around and ghost my friends
The outro, the repeated refrain of “The end is near”, eventually culminates, on the album, with Bridgers letting out a guttural scream, the album’s often delicate and dynamic instrumentation collapsing and colliding all around her. Live, the release is anticipated and communal. We are explicitly invited to participate.
Behind her, on stage, a quintessential image of a haunted American home — rustic, fading, perhaps abandoned, but still the porch, fence and all — goes up in flames.
The entire crowd joins in the outburst. It is deafening. Hundreds of people screaming at the very top of their lungs, the heat of the room also reaching its crescendo as the air in the room disappears into the bodies present and is then expelled, through a sudden phase shift, into an almost solid sacrificial object. It’s not just the teens screaming now, at the slightest glimpse of Bridgers’ blonde hair, but everyone in unison.
The world ends.
Then, a final encore, played solo: “Waiting Room.” The daughters of Jezebel, affirming their place in a hot and wonderous hell, fall as the ground gives way, returning us to the purgatory we came in from.
The crowd goes home, or at the very least into the night.