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Music After Sunset



A crawl through the San Antonio club scene – Stepping into the Limelight

My week had been such a whirlwind of activity that my memories of Thursday night at Limelight, the new venue on St. Mary’s, were a blur — until I turned over one more page in my journal and found my concluding note from the evening: “If I had to say what tonight meant, I guess I’d say that people are people, clumsily teetering between tragedy and comedy, grand performance and timidity.”

Chris Smart and his Mechanical Walking RobotBoy take the stage recently at Limelight on N. St. Mary's. (Photos by Mark Greenberg)

When I first read the statement, I was unsure what I had meant by it. But then the details of the night started to come back.

We walked into Limelight expectantly: the atmosphere was bubbling with the flavor of newness, of anticipation. I had convinced my roommate to skip his biology chapter for the night and accompany me to the gig. He was slightly reluctant, but once we arrive, I quickly put a beer in his hand and began to point out all the young hotties scattered about the place. Soon he forgot about school and focused on finding someone appealing from whom he could bum a cigarette. Being the shy type, though, it took him a few beers to work up the nerve.

The Limelight

2718 N. St. Mary’s

The DJ (Celeste) had enticed a threesome of sensual dancers onto the floor in front of the stage with upbeat rock ’n’ roll songs sung by screeching females. I approved of her picks and enjoyed watching the two tall women with thick waists and long skirts bury their male in a sandwich of gyrating hips and spaghetti arms dripping all over his chest and shoulders. He must have felt like a pretty lucky guy: I saw him being continually smothered by the wet kisses and soft-arm embraces of many good-looking ladies throughout the night.

The place had an erotically charged vibe. Yet everywhere I looked, humanity manifested itself in the awkward smiles of passing strangers and the eager handshakes of friends introducing friends to other friends. We were all just having a good time and letting our defenses down.

Crowds gather around the bar at Limelight on N. St. Mary's.

I had seen The Spark a few times (I always enjoy their performances), but had never seen Skullening, so I had no idea what to expect. The band came out dressed all in white and hidden behind white face masks that looked slightly demonic with red circles around the eyes and dangling red mouth pieces. They quickly filled the long, narrow venue with organ-infused psychedelic punk.

I was in awe. The colored stage lights, the masked figures twitching on stage, and the psychedelic keyboard rhythms blended together into a circus of ecstasy. I left my roommate behind in his pursuit of more smoke (he couldn’t stop with just one) and floated into the groove of people tranced-out by this performance. I was turned on by the psychotic primalism of the band: The keyboardist attacked his instrument from various angles, usually sticking close to the earth like a crouching tiger waiting to pounce; the lead singer stood on the front of the stage in a white-jacket pose, as if he were straining against his own musical psychosis. My imagination was stimulated by flashes of bare wrists and sweaty strands of hair escaping through breaks in the costume.

When the show was over, I stumbled back to my stool against the wall, pleasantly concussed. And then I noticed the time, remembering that I had a 9-to-5 and couldn’t just while away the night with the artists and college kids. I wanted to stay and tell Skullening how much I’d enjoyed their performance, how thankful I was to have been momentarily transported from my own body on some twisted magic-carpet ride through an asylum of timelessness. But instead, I let go the ghost and felt human again and decided to sneak out before the full reality of the unmasking began.

By Brooke Palmer

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