Laying out in my sunny backyard last weekend with my friend Chini and the two gray sister cats that make up my brood, I had a moment of pure summer idyll. It might have had something to do with practicing my pitch wind-up with a few yard apples, or the sheer blue of the sky divorced from too much wind or heat, but I found myself in the zone, blissed out and unbothered. Of course, this wasn't built to last, and external stresses have since colluded with an internal disquiet to provoke my usual ambient state of muted being. But the point is I got there, somewhere around the third time I listened to Robyn Hitchcock and Emma Swift's version of "The Ghost in You," and planted my flag on the bright summit of that sweet day. I'm not very good at understanding other people and their motivations, but I do suspect that staking a claim to a nice memory, as it is unfolding, is one of those experiences that is both universal and sublime. People talk about FOMO ("fear of missing out") but the big social events seem mostly designed for me to look for escape routes from all the fun. I might go to the fair this week, but I won't be doing it with a large crew and a resulting explosion of Instagram posts. I do, however, experience a fear of missing a good memory, or a failure to take notice of a nice time while it's happening. It's not a nostalgia thing, it's more like pointillism, another small dot of color added to a larger image that may become clear to me one day. Or might just look as inscrutable as sunspots and flotsam in the ocean. I really don't know.
I hope that you have made some nice memories this month, this summer, this year. Here's to more to come.
You have your choice of two regular, ongoing weekly shows tonight, both starting at 9 p.m. At the Miniplex, it's one of two weekly karaoke shows, this one has a fun theme: Animal party. So dress up as a scorpion or a frog or something, I dunno. It's free. Meanwhile, across the crab-infested saltlands and over into Eureka, Savage Henry Comedy Club presents Just Joshin', the weekly showcase of comedian Josh Barnes. Not quite free but $5 is close enough.
WHOMP Wednesday is dead, all hail WHOMP Friday. Or rather, a WHOMP productions electronic dance show at the Jam at 9:30 p.m. I have noticed fewer of these sorts of noisy, dayglo free-for-alls this year, so ravey celebrants should rejoice: Your digital mass is back, for an evening, at least. Tonight's beat curators will be Dalfin, JARS, Cassidy Blaze and Drinking Midnight ($15).
Speaking of big-sound dance-extravaganzas, it's Soul Party over at Humbrews tonight at 9 p.m. ($5). This week's theme is (according to DJ Red, whom I happily run into rather frequently during my Arcata perambulations) Geek-Out Freak-Out. A salute to the returning student body of whatever the state is currently calling the university in northeastern Arcata. With the return of said students, I would expect a higher than usual turnout compared to the regular summer crowd, so think about getting here early if you want to scratch that classic soul vinyl itch.
I would like to scoot back an hour in time and mention that the Miniplex is hosting a Goth Night, for those of you who wish to dance to a slightly darker tune. Tonight's musical revenants will be DJ Fauxvelvet, DJ Satanica and DJ Kill Despot. I am told that there will be a corpse paint booth set up, which I am guessing involves creating the iconic black and white patterns seen on certain black metal and darkwave artists, and not a local mortuary worker trying to return the roses to a cold and lifeless canvas ($5).
Septentrio Winery is throwing an all-day rock fest, starting at 1 p.m. Local Arcata acts War Möth, Insomnia Syndrome, Planet of Green and the garage band Cookers will all be joining Chico's Furlough Fridays for a day of heavy, amplified string and drum tunes. That's a total of five bands for only $5, which seems like a deal to me.
"Oh, for a muse of fire that would ascend/ The brightest heaven of invention! A kingdom for a stage, princes to act, And monarchs to behold the swelling scene!"
Oh, indeed. Unfortunately, no such muse has materialized, so you're all on your own tonight.
For over two decades, weathering hiatuses and lineup changes, Sonoma County's Groundation has been a touring roots reggae staple. Playing a sound that can only be created by tube amps, live drums, vocals, and horns, with none of the digital affectations associated with more modern styles of reggae and dancehall music, the group has carved out its niche by remaining on an all-analog sonic pathway. If that sounds like something you're into, you can check 'em out at Humbrews tonight. 9:30 p.m. ($35, $30 advance). Local act Irie Rockerz opens.
I've been pushing these Wednesday movie nights over at the Arcata Theatre Lounge lately since they're a good choice for these sleepy, midweek summer slots. However, tonight's feature is relevant to this column, as it's a showing of Sun Ra's 1974 film Space is the Place. In this hidden relic of Afrofuturist science fiction, Sun Ra's Intergalactic Solar Arkestra provides the soundtrack to a story that is literally powered by music, as well as a naked critique of racist, capitalist structures. The movie starts at 7:30 p.m., with a pre-show raffle at 6 p.m., and admission is only $5, $9 if you want a poster.
Collin Yeo (he/him) lives in Arcata, where, in a devastating and tragic turn of events, he has found himself playing music again.