“Just don’t burn the place down” is posted on the band’s website, along with date and time.  New material only.  1,000 street tickets: $80 per.  Limit one per customer.  They sell out in six minutes.  Devoted fans caravan in from across the country.  The city council holds an emergency meeting on how to handle to inflow of people camping out on the streets and parks.  You have to cancel the event.  There’s thousands of people who are going to crash it.  We’re revoking the outdoor permit.  The city manager tells Raul and James.  You’re throwing away millions in future revenue.  New Orleans will become the concert kickoff destination of choice, James tells them.  You have to move to a bigger venue, the mayor responds.  The band is honoring their agreement, making good for the harm visited upon a local businessman.  Everybody wins here…

The SH5 Fanboards.

The city is making us post a $1MM bond just for us to keep our word to the clubowner and play here.  Paid.  –Simon.

I don’t care what it costs to get inside that club.  I’m paying it, the new CEO of Goldman Sachs announces on CNBC.  Shares of his company surge on the news.

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Are you going?  Bettina asks Lana.  Lana is silent.  Lana, you have to go.  I don’t like crowds, she tells Bettina.  Raul invited Toni and I to sit with him at this booth, Bettina says.  Who else?  The Tesla guy.  Are you playing matchmaker?  Not my doing; I think he wants me to profile him.  Lana raises her eyebrows.  We’ll see, Bettina says.

***

Hello, Simon.  Hi.  Thanks again for letting me do that interview.  It’s opened a lot of doors for me.  Glad to hear it.  What’s up, Bettina?  I just talked to Lana, and she’s not coming.  She doesn’t like crowds.  So what?  She needs to be there for Jax.  She already invited my high school cousin to take her place; I hope that’s alright.  He doesn’t say anything.  I’m really excited; I cannot wait to hear you guys live.  Get Lana to come.  Click, Simon hangs up.

***

Simon says you’re not coming.  Lana, what’s going on?  I don’t want Bettina to know until afterwards, but I’ll be on the clock - on a undercover protection detail in the street outside.  Who’s got your back?  A couple of Kostamo’s guys.  Who is the client?  Jax, she sighs.  He starts coughing.  I’m coming down with something.  Might<cough>not<cough>be able to play.  The Secret Service.  He’s silent for a little while.  I’m proud of you, babe.  Now watch and see what your man can do.

He hangs up, and goes back to the guys.  You’re not going to believe this, but Lana’s going to be working an undercover protection detail outside for the Secret Service.  Your girl’s made the big leagues, Simon says.  Rolf still in his oxygen chamber?  Mike nods.  Bettina and Toni are going to be sitting with the club owner.  Lana asked that we not draw attention to either of them.

***

My boss said he wouldn’t give me time off to come down here.  So I quit my job, a fan tells Bettina, as she does live interviews in the street.  His friends all raise their arms and cheer, Jaegermeister!  There’s a lot of excitement here.  There are big screens and speakers are set up at each intersection…

The President’s granddaughter and her friends skip school and are photographed skateboarding towards the club, surrounded by a Secret Service detail.  As the sun goes down, the rooftops of the surrounding buildings start to fill up, and glass showers down as those inside break out the windows so they can hear the music.  Police in riot gear man barricades.  James comes out and does a quick sound check on all the equipment, and the fans start to buzz with excitement.

***

What can I get the table?  Ramon asks those seated in the Goldman Sachs booth.  Bottle of Absinthe.  I want Everclear, Starlet protests.  Why choose?  Two bottles coming right up.  He goes back to the bar, and gives Sam the drink order.  She gets two bottles and four shot glasses.  And brings them to the table.  What do I owe you?  It’s honor system.  Settle up after.

Conor, can I get your autograph?  A fan asks as the UFC fighter hands him a Red Solo cup.  I’m working.  Find me after.  He replies.

The guy on the cover of the latest Wired magazine stops Ramon on the floor.  Hey, can I get one of those?  No bottles on the floor, but if you help tend bar, you can have whatever you want.  Cool.  Follow me.

Ramon goes over to Raul’s elevated booth, and sees everyone playing Pictionary.  Peach tea, please.  Raul says.  That sounds good, Bettina agrees.  Vodka and Redbull.  Flavor?  Cranberry.  Blueberry, says her seatmate.  What do I owe you?  It’s honor system, settle up after, or when you get home.  I like that, the man says, looking over at Raul.  Look who is sitting over with the mayor.  Stop this and move on, Bettina tells her.

Hiphop star Kanye West goes up to the open mike wearing a black SECURITY t-shirt as everyone mills around, waiting for the show to start.  There needs to be a token brother in the room.  The crowd laughs nervously.  I’m here because Jon is a friend.  And someone has to protect him from Starlet.  She a gold digger.  The crowd laughs, and the camera pans to the actress sitting next to the CEO in an elevated booth; she has her mouth open in mock outrage.  The crowd laughs some more. Five minutes, he tells the crowd.  And the club goes dark.  A spontaneous cheer erupts from the crowd.  And everyone inside holds their cellphones up, lighting the club. The lights and smoke machine kick on as the band opens with the Nickelback song “Too Bad”, with Mike singing and Simon on guitar.

You left without saying goodbye, although I’m sure you’ve tried.

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“The concert of the century”  Rolling Stones website proclaims.  There was no set or visuals.  Just the band on a small stage.  The band demonstrated their genre bending skills by opening with a muted number (after a Nickelback tribute song), with Simon taking off his glasses and unceremoniously stepping on them.  And then sang “Halo” in his emotive voice as the guitar and drums built up to a crescendo.  Everyone was nodding along to Rolf’s drumwork.  Bettina Andrews, Channel Five’s star reporter, was moved to tears, as she sat with her date: club manager, Raul Guitterez.

After that catharsis, the band switched to their trademark style: Rolf’s punchy drum fills, Jax’s signature fuzz bass and amp growl, Mike and Jon’s beautiful chording and build ups, and Simon’s honeyed voice.  SH5 didn’t set the club on fire, but they blew the roof off.  The entire club was one big mosh pit, with most of the elevated booths empty by the end of the concert.  Fans would climb up on the stage, and then jump off.  Thousands watched the performance in the street and on the rooftops on big screen projectors.  Inside the club was invite only, and a veritable who’s who of the players in the new tech boom and sports celebrities.

Security outside was unbelievably heavy, and by the end of the concert, the entire street was utter chaos and bedlam.  An estimated ten thousand fans and onlookers showed up, closing down the warehouse district of the city.

There was no let up.  The closing number, Black Flame, was epic metalcore: with Jon screaming out the lyrics, swapping his guitar for Simon’s microphone.  Thank you, New Orleans, Mike shouted, and the stage went dark.

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It was worship, Tia.  Idolatry.  The fans were bowing down to them and bouncing off each other like crazy people.  It was deindividuation on a massive scale.  What I imagine one of Hilter’s Nuremberg rallies to have been like if it had been set to rock music.  Did the bald one do anything funny?  Raul laughs.  For the opening of their third song, he beat his chest twice with both hands like a gorilla in time with the drums, and glared at the audience.  Tia laughs.  Then he just squatted down on his haunches and sang from that position until the last song, when he played guitar.  He’s quite the showman.  Bettina told me afterwards that he’s almost blind without his glasses, and would have fallen off the stage if he paced back and forth.  So what did you think of the band?  They’re masters of their trade, I’ll give them that.  I enjoyed watching the drummer; he’s got such flair.  And the shy guitarist played with his back to the audience the whole time.  It was a shock when he took up the microphone for the closing number.

Hmmpfh.  How much did we make?  We netted ten thousand dollars after expenses.   That’s it?  We had to reimburse the city for police overtime in order to get the permit, and pay for all the cleanup.  So it was just a huge win for the band.  I sold the club for one point five to the Goldman CEO before the show.  Tia laughs.  Well done, Raul.  Thank you, Tia.  Did you have to sign a noncompete?  Yes.  So what are you going to invest in?  I’m considering a scrap metal yard.   Why?  Location on a rail siding.  I think I can get Nucor to build a new mini mill on the site.  Goldman is going to do the approach for us.

Ramon and Samantha?  They tended bar, before kickoff and at the afterparty, as the band mingled with the fans.  How was it sitting with Bettina?  She made it fun.  We played Pictionary.  Did you see Lana?  She didn’t come.  Bettina said that she doesn’t like crowds.  It was just as well; the first song was so well composed and powerful.  It shocked me, and it wiped out Bettina.  We both thought that he was singing about Lana.