Literary readings are usually quiet affairs. Silent book-ish types in an intimate space, eyes closed perhaps so as to better picture the scenes being described.
And then this one time I was asked to read at a rock concert. At the 6th annual Lawnya Vawnya, to be more precise. Five booze-fueled days and nights, more raucous kitchen party than music festival. I'm not going to lie: the prospect was intimidating.
I was scheduled for Sunday - the closing night. So on Saturday I did a bit of reconnaissance at The Ship. Punch Table, Partner, and Psychic Fair put on a loud and up-tempo show. Everyone was jumping around, dancing, going hog-wild. And I was terrified. I was supposed to get up and read to a crowd like this?
Luckily, Sunday's show had a mellow (hungover?) vibe. Maybe everyone was hung over. Pilot to Bombardier (love them!) were on first and graciously saw themselves out with a low key final song. Then MC Vish Khanna - to whom I will forever be indebted - gave the audience a stern lecture: "Now we're going to have a writer come up here to read something. And you're all going to SHUT THE FUCK UP. I'M SERIOUS. I DON'T WANT TO HEAR A PEEP OUT OF YOU. JUST SHUT. THE. FUCK. UP."
In the words of The Overcast's Lukas Wall: "Sharon Bala read to a remarkably silent audience at The Ship. That room has never been so quiet with such a crowd, with only a warm breeze carrying in the chatter of people smoking cigarettes outside..."
It was surreal! I've never seen an audience - rocking out mere moments ago - suddenly become so silent. I'm incredibly grateful to every person who stood there, silent as lambs, patiently listening.