That Same Clash Tune


cat_icon.gif sable_icon.gif

Scene Title That Same Clash Tune
Synopsis While auditioning Sable, Cat has a flashback.
Date August 24, 2009

The Rock Cellar

A comfortable place, located in the basement of 14 East 4th Street. The red brick walls are covered with memorabilia from various icons of rock and places in rock history, creating a feel similar to that of a Hard Rock Cafe.

The left wall has two bars separated by swinging doors which lead to and from the kitchen. Directly across from the entrance is a two foot high stage with all the equipment needed for acts to perform there. The right wall has three doors marked as restrooms: two for use by women and one by men.

Thirty square feet of open space for dancing and standing room is kept between the stage and the comfortable seating placed around tables which fill the remainder of the Cellar.

The lighting here is often kept dim for purposes of ambience, and when performers are onstage the place is loud enough to make conversation difficult. Just inside the door is a podium where location staff check IDs and stamp the hands of those under twenty-one with a substance visible under UV lights at the two bars and by devices the servers carry. On the podium's front is a sign with big black letters that just about explain it all: If You Don't Like Rock 'N' Roll, You're Too Late Now!

It's a busy sort of day for Cat. She'd been up early and out to Roosevelt Island for her 09:00 seminar on law and ethics as they apply to extrahuman abilities, come back to her residence, changed out of her attorney garb, and taken the elevator down to the Cellar for the purpose of meeting with a musician who was at Else Kjelstrom's CD launch party. Sable was instructed at that time to bring her instrument and be ready to play.

As the sun reaches its highest point in the sky, Cat's iPhone tells her the noon hour has arrived. She steps out of the elevator hidden from public view and makes her way to the stage with a red Fender Strat. Time is taken to plug in and check tuning, then she's ready to go.

The Cellar itself is mostly empty at this hour, there are only a few people doing things in preparation for the day's business later. Cooks in the kitchen, a bartender taking inventory, the manager doing paperwork in her office. The door is, however, unlocked.

Punctuality is hardly Sable's strong suit, but this is important, very fucking important. Eyes to the stars means rarely checking for stable footing, and this has landed Sable tripped up in the gutter more often than she would like to admit unless she's playing for pity points. And this is not a pity meeting, at least not yet. She's early by a half hour, but stays about a block away and busques as a warmup, putter her acoustic guitar through its unplugged paces. Well loved though it may be, it grows ever more unsatisfactory with each passing day; the amazing launch party, with the amazing Else Kjelstrom, has only accelerated this disatisfaction.

When high noon comes galloping in, Sable packs up her slim pickings and her guitar and hustles the rest of the way to the Rock Cellar, navigating the doors. Normally she'd waste lots of time trying to navigate the place, but the stage is set and instead she just feels sort of startled, but this is soon eclipsed by her excitement at seeing a Stratocaster awaiting her eager fingers. She sets her case on the ground and moves up to Cat, sticking out a hand to offer in a shake. "Thanks fer seeing me."

Sable is studied as she enters and crosses to the stage, Cat's features assessing the younger woman. When she's joined and the hand is offered, she takes it to shake once and release. The hand is smooth and soft, warm, the mark of a person not accustomed to hard life. But her fingertips have calluses, perhaps from playing the instrument around her neck. "No worries," she answers with a slight grin. "How long have you been playing?" Her fingers run lightly over the strings and frets of the Strat while she waits for the musician to open her case and pull out the guitar she brought. "I saw your flyer. What're your influences?"

Sable eyes the guitar around Cat's neck much as one might eye a beautiful, sexually compatible individual at the arm of someone not necessarily undeserving, but someone /else/, which is bad enough. She crouches by her case and pops the latches, working hard at one of them that got busted when she was trying to pull it through the door of a Greyhound bus. Elbow grease prevails, and she slips the acoustic's strap over her own shoulders. She does some cursory tuning tests, but it doesn't take much since she did an inspection not so long ago. "60's mod rock and British concept-psychadelic," Sable answers, promptly, "Though I like punk and country, as long as it's real country, not some mass production bullshit. I dig Hendrix, but," she splays her hands, "I don't have the finger length, y'know?"

Nodding, her grin widens a bit. "How are you on the female rockers? Ann and Nancy, Pat Benatar, Joan Jett?" Cat asks. "I've got a string of influences it might take me an hour to list, but those stand out ahead of some others because they rock, have big voices, and are shaped like us, y'know?" The acoustic axe is eyed, then her head nods toward a nearby electric on a stand. "Use that if you like," she invites. And the music shall begin. 1960's mod rock indeed.

Fingers manipulate strings and frets, she's very skilled with the instrument. The intro is played, then her voice kicks in. It's of a quality similar to Ann Wilson or Benatar. "People try to put us down…"

"Gotta admit," Sable says, with a shrug, "None of 'em rank in my top ten. But fuck if I don't respect the hell out of them."

Use the electric? Say no more. Sable swings her guitar off her shoulder and springs over to the offered guitar. She draws it up, doing the merest of checks before kicking in. "Just because we- get around," she slides in, adopting the distinct syncopation of Daltrey's vocalization. She's good, spot on; in fact, the easiest instant criticism is that she seems /too/ faithful to the original recordings.

Oh, this is going to be fun. Cat continues on with the lyrics, fingers busy working the chords. It's a two guitar and singer version of My Generation; the woman's face displays more enjoyment as it goes on. Her voice and hands go still at the tune's conclusion, though, and she rests eyes on the other musician. "Pick something," Cat encourages, ready to pick up and follow along.

Sable looks positively gleeful, tapping the frets lightly with a hand, loving the feel of the strings, the heft of the solid wood. She sticks her tongue out of the corner of her mouth as she thinks of what to play next. She nods, finding something, and then starts tapping the time. The riff begins, a rising sequence, going 'round three times before: "Cats's foot, iron claw, Neurosurgeon screams for more!" It'd sound better with some horns, sure, and the lack of drums is a bummer, but Sable's intensity is high, her voice rough but clear.

"At paranoia's poison door, Twenty-first century schizoid man!" Cat picks up with the next line, her fingers working the instrument again. King Crimson is easily recognized and leaned into. She's enjoying herself, standing in one spot on the stage with an intense expression forming from her focus on playing the tune. When it's done she'll leave the choice of sound to Sable, her goal being to enjoy the jam session and give the other guitarist a thorough workout.

Sable's clearly a little unused to the rigors of electric guitar playing, taking the occasional beat pause when she thinks she can get away with it to give her fingers a tiny breather. She chooses the breaks well, though, and it's barely noticeable. She's technically quite good, and improvises well for the most part, though she's strongest when sticking to the canonical versions of the songs. One weird quirk is that, where she deviates from the album recording, she tends to mimic flourishes added live in video-recorded performance. By the end of the song, a long one, as King Crimson's tend to be, she gives her hands a shake. "Gah. Yeah, I could never afford an electric, and ol' Adelaide there is pretty well worn in." She nods at her acoustic.

Sable turns to Cat, fixing her with a serious look, "I've got maybe half a band together, no practice time, no experience. But fuck if I don't wanna start somewhere. This is my reach, Jesus, this place is shooting for the goddamn moon with a coke can and some pop rocks to get me there, this I know 'cuz of Saturday night. But I want it /bad/."

Her fingers go still, the voice with it, and Cat stands there with her eyes on the younger one. There's recognition in her eyes, she's been at this place before. A slightly distant look settles in, the woman wearing it is silent as she basks in a trip down the path of memories. It's the second day of September 2008 in her head, she's at the Surly Wench with Peter Petrelli watching, less than a week after arriving in Nuked York City.

Her back is straight, her head erect, as she crosses the floor toward Raymond. Again Cat is clueless to the assistance she was given, not that she expected less than success anyway. When she reaches the man, her feet stop and she stands directly in front of him, raising the volume of her voice to be heard. "When's the stage open for unknowns here?" she asks. "I've come to blow this room away."

Raymond purses his lips, tilting his head to the side, giving his answer to Cat. The stage is hers to take and make her demonstration.

Her backpack is left there in Peter's care; the woman herself is headed for the stage. She sets the case down, opens it, and pulls out a cherry red Fender Strat. Time is taken with plugging into an amp and tuning quietly while the internal music continues. She makes ready and waits for the current song to end. Cat intends there won't be silence then, her fingers make quick work of ensuring the instrument's ready. It helps when one knows exactly how the strings feel in their correct tuning even without hearing the notes.

Once that moment comes, she begins without fanfare. Fingers display their dexterity in moving over strings and frets; the lady is very skilled and practiced. The tune of choice is a Clash piece, joined by her soprano voice at the proper moment. She's chosen to Rock the Casbah.

In the here and now, as this memory is basked in, Cat has begun to play and sing again. That same Clash tune.

Her feet are on the move as she plays, eyes scanning out across the crowd and making contact with people from time to time, drawing the audience in. At one point they settle on the guardian of her backpack and her stout, then move along. Cat is in her element onstage, singing and playing. Her presence is palpable there.

When the song concludes, she unplugs and packs the instrument away, pausing to give Raymond some contact information, and makes her way through the multitude to rejoin Peter and take up drinking that stout again. She feels a quiet pride, the reactions and responses observed something she had no doubt of inspiring.

"I was wrong." Peter started to say as Cat came back, a lull in the sound of the bar giving way to much easier communication, as the canned music hadn't been turned back on yet. "You didn't light up the room, you blew it up." A smile crosses his face, the first really honest one in a long while. "Where'd a girl like you learn to sing like that?" He asks as he straightens his stool back to its proper alignment with the table, "I think the crowd liked you too, definitely."

"You're just full of surprises." Peter leaned back into his chair, seated on the far end of the Surly Wench from the door. The bar was packed tonight, shoulder-to-shoulder with all manner of roughs and punks. Most of the bar was standing room only with most of the seats having been taken hours ago. The line of round tables opposite of the bar were, likewise, packed to capacity, one in particular surrounded by a pack of drunken and obnoxiously loud young women. The plethora of chairs they occupied, though, seem to have been taken from the last table in line, that one on the other end of the bar where only Cat and Peter sat.

She takes a brief bow on hearing his praise. "Hartford and New Haven," Cat replies with an easy grin as her stool is re-occupied. Fingers take that glass of stout and lift it slowly, it hovers mid-air. Her voice shifts into singing mode, quietly calling up a bit of Paul Simon. "And it was late in the evening, and I blew that room away." When silent again, Cat drinks.

"Now the king told the boogie men/You have to let that raga drop/The oil down the desert way/Has been shakin' to the top," Sable sings the words, eyes moving to watch Cat. Music, when it seizes one, can easily plunge you into a revery. But usually this revery contracts you into a blissful point in time, relieves the strain that comes from being conscious, a being that must live forever before and after the present moment. Cat's expression doesn't suggest such a moment. It's something else, though Sable can't quite articulate it. If she'd read Proust, maybe she'd think of madeleines and tea, but she sure as hell hasn't. So instead she gives to the classic protopunk tune's lyrics a timeworn edge, a gruff softness, the sound of vinyl and diamond tips, a modification made on instinct.

It is blissful for her, reconnecting to this time in her past. To the feeling of making her first professional appearance in Nuked York City, of having gone onstage without appointment or preface of any kind and secured a recurrent paying gig. All of that feeling, the confidence and boldness, is channeled into her voice and the way her fingers manipulate the instrument's strings and frets.

It's an understanding of how this is for Sable now, the flashback a product of how she believes it must feel for her, even though she's not likely to share the exact nature of it when she emerges.

"…The king called up his jet fighters, he said you better earn your pay. Drop your bombs between the minarets, down the casbah way…"

The defiance of the song is bound up in its sardonic good humor. Perfect for a city half in ashes, a city staggering in the wake of the Linderman act. Different country, different tension, different struggle, but the sentiment of the music cannot be contained. It is a song for those who see beauty despite ruin, a redemptive, wry beauty. Not that it would be very punk to say all that.

The final words? "He thinks its not kosher/Fundamentally he can't take it/You know he really hates it," Sable sings, and as the song winds to close, she turns to Cat, head tilting curiously, "Now… where were you at for that 'n'?" she asks, "Cuz for sure you weren't here or now."

The end of the song ends Cat's flashback, words spoken to her by Sable only just registering in her mind. She blinks a few times, and replies with a spreading smile in a cryptic way. "I was remembering something." A few steps are taken, eyes resting on and studying the other guitarist, as she remarks "You're good. Hopefully your band is good too." She makes no comment on whether or not she's got a standing gig at this place.

A few moments later the manager comes out of her office and walks up to the stage. She's been listening. "Good sound," she remarks. "We can work out the details with you and your band soon enough, but there'll be a place for you on our stage when we have nights open and you're available." This one conducts herself as if such things are her decision, and Cat isn't disputing her word. It's Cat's practice to obscure her connection to the place, to avoid things being too traceable.

Sable has the good grace to look astounded. "I… uh… awesome," slowly a smile pushes its way to the front of the expressive queue, "Fuckin' awesome. Yeah, yeah. Uh…" she scratches the back of her head, "We're gonna need some songs and…" she wrinkles her nose, "But that's our problem. Yeah, yeah, we'll get right on that. Thanks." Sable quickly realizes this is perhaps not sufficient, "/Thanks/," she repeats, "Like.. a lot. It's gonna be amateur hour, but damn if we won't make up for it with feeling." She suddenly grins, "Guess I'll have to put my crew through their paces."

"Congrats, Sable," Cat offers with a grin as she manager heads back to her office. "I'll hear you and your band play sometime soon. I'm around," she assures. What exactly is her role here, anyway? "Things are fairly quiet here in the afternoons before opening, when folks are setting up for the day, I'm certain she'll let you folks in for practice sometimes." She unplugs the Fender Strat and walks offstage, heading for somewhere back amid the place's interior. Her back is to Sable, and the expression to her face is thus unseen. It's a successful bit of jamming with another guitarist, an act found to fill some empty spaces in the Rock Cellar's calendar, and a continuation of keeping her connection vague.

All these things make, at this moment, for a moderately happy Cat.

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