All I wanted was a family box of chips, to take one down to the Freo Arts Centre and watch Tash Sultana play. And like a pale middle class lady in Australia with European heritage and an only occasionally surfacing mental illness, I was used to getting what I wanted.
I considered going to Captain Munchies - my first visit in a while, as Captain Munchies is the place to go when you're single and substituting steak sandwiches for secure relationship attachments. It's quite an effective substitution, if you add netflix. But I was in that Upsidedown world where later in the night you know there'll be a second person there under the sheets, just waiting to be read the next chapter of 'Grapes of Wrath'.
"Family size box of chips, family size box of chips" went my brain. "But maybe they won't let you in with food from the outside, gates and bag checkers and all the rest," and "maybe there'll be a family box of chips inside" and "come on amber the show's about to start, get amongst the flow of people who seem unlike you in clothing, conversation, taste, ride the wave bro into the arts centre deep in, and do the job you've asked to do."
Well on the door at the Arts Centre was Kristie, someone who I used to be sacred of for ridiculous reasons like - "I think she knows I'm secretly not a niceperson, I'm just a stocking full of unmarked meats." But we'd both gone to the first 'Safer Venues WA' meeting, and at that meeting and through the positive version of the word 'fall out' new connections had been made, and none of the people I'd been scared of before frightened me, and all the women and a few men who were there had come closer together over a shared goal and a shared empathy for the things even we, in peacetime, had faced. Safer Venues WA - please investigate this on the internet.
"Family box of chips, family box of chips," continued my psyche.
But now the preamble is over, and I move from chips and 'self' to 'other'…
Tash Sultana is an instantly likeable person, whether you meet her face-to-face or her face is high up on the stage and your face is way down below. She has the type of confidence that's like a glowing gold cape, that gives everyone round it a glow even if she's just twirling in it herself, oblivious to those around. She is like a kid at school who you could see might get some bullying but is the coolest person there, because they carry themselves with a selfbelief that's big, and real, and never puts anyone else down. You see the child as they will be in adulthoood, ruling in whatever way they've chosen, because they're going a non-self-conscious, non fake-humble route that says "Helloooooo world! I'm fabulous" and no-one but a dickhead would disagree.
So she is an instantly lovable person, but the music is not my thing, but it's so many people's thing so this is what I wanted: I wanted to be there and feel the things the people around me were feeling. I believe in the sincerity of her music, even if I'm not into the style, and am not impressed by loops and multi-instrumentalism like the sweet swedish man next to me saying loudly into the ears of all his friends and into the night air "She's a GENIUS!" and "I've seen some sick shit in my time but this is UNBELIEVABLE!"
Well, the loops and instruments aren't a genius thing to me, but her whole person is. Like she said from the stage, a year ago she played at Mojos in front of a hundred and a bit people, now she was doing two nights in a row with 3000 people jammed in to see *just her*, and buying all her t-shirts and signing along to all her songs, and yelling into the ears of their friends how great she is. Sultana is a fabulous performer. She gets stoked on every note and beat of her own making and the stoke is an open inviting stoke for everyone to join in on. People could mock her, and maybe they do, for getting so excited about her own creations, but creation is what we are made for and she is in the right to love her own artistic babies as they fly out of her. Every single one of them.
She played a bunch of hits and I got a great feeling rising through my body, even though her music isn't my kind of music. But the highlight of the show was just before this, where she spoke to the crowd. It was the day the marriage equality legislation had been passed and so she said, with extra confidence because here she was with the 3000 people confirming that her self belief was justified "If you are at my show and you are a racist, get the fuck out" "If you are at my show and you are homophobic, get the fuck out" "If you are at my show and you are transphobic, get the fuck out". It was very real and very perfect and felt like the triumph for once, of the right voices finally being able to speak with strength and without fear.
At one time I might have thought - those people - the homophobes, the racists - should stay, to have their minds changed - but at this moment it seemed to be the legitimate final claiming of space for those who had been pushed down and had now taken their forever rightful place, feet strong into the ground, capes at rest, faces unshakeable.
I still wanted some chips though. A family box. So I left, after the pleasure of feeling the spirit pump through, and headed home.
I passed Kristie again and we talked about music and RTRfm, what shows we listen to that we're surprised we love "soul sides" for her, "difficult listening" for me, and then I trundled, feeling some goodness about our country's voting, down the path of the Arts Centre, which used to be an asylum, where my housemate's great grandmother wallowed, which used to be groves of sacred trees (every tree, a sacred tree, every sincere musical offering a sacred sound).
And through the last gate of the night I spied a security man alone, eating from a box of family sized chips. "Hello, would you like a chip" he said through the gate. "Why, yes I sure would" I said through the gate, and as I began to reach my hand through to grab a little sacred chip he said, "Actually would you like a whole box?" and he reached to the limestone wall behind him, grabbed a whole family sized box of chips that was inexplicably sitting there, and maneouvered them sideways through the gate to me.
Earth angel. I kept walking down, across the road, and sat in a bus stop, stormie mills graffiti on the inside, the orange street lights brazzling down, and Tash Sultana's voice, punctured by a crowd of 2999 people squealing, and one little chippy hand finger-whistle joining in from the outside. Toot toot! Dreams can come true!