There are moments when disappointment morphs into unbounded joy. Sometimes it’s a good attitude that lays down the right karma for joy to walk in, but occasionally the transformation is simple fate. On March 20, 1999 Dave and I walked into Austin’s Liberty Lunch, a live music club at 405 2nd Street. Liberty lunch was a dank venue that probably would have smelled like 25 years of spilled beer if not for the fact that it had only a partial roof and year round ventilation. From the front door, the 40 foot wide room sloped down slightly about 100 feet to the stage so no matter where you were, the sightline was pretty decent. Access to the bar was decent too. It ran down the left side nearly the entire length of the club. Just to the left of the stage was sort of an open-air market where local artists would sell their work. I’d browse out there between sets, but I never bought anything.

By the time the Bottle Rockets came on, it had to be midnight and we were fired up, ready to rock out to all the familiar songs from the bands first three records. Then head Bottle Rocket Brian Henneman announced, “We’re only playing new stuff tonight.” I actually didn’t have much time to be disappointed because the band immediately punched the gas pedal, ripping into “Nancy Sinatra,” quaking the tin roof, and not letting up till crashing into the end of “I’ve Been Dying.” It was just balls to the wall rock and roll; one of those rare exhilarating shows when music I’d never heard before just blew me away. One of the songs from their then-upcoming “Brand New Year” was “The Bar’s on Fire.” It was. In spite of public outcry that it was an historic landmark, Liberty Lunch was razed a few months later to build a new downtown home for Computer Sciences Corporation.

“When we look back at it all …
will we really remember how it feels to be this alive?”

— The Cure, “Out of This World,” 2000