Almost Famous

Elvis Costello: Not Angry Anymore. Photo © 2005 Linus Gelber

It’s a SXSW Wednesday in Austin, and I’m standing off at the side of the ample stage at Buffalo Billiards shooting a couple of pictures of Sonya Kitchell, an acousticky girl from Ashfield, Massachusetts, who makes me a little nervous because after a drink or two I would never guess that she’s 15. Your Honor. Honest. I thought she said 50. I’ll go peacefully.

The side of the stage is favored by photographers because it relieves the big-microphone-in-the-middle-of-her-face problem and lets you mix up your angles some. It’s also favored by famous people, because mostly nobody is looking over there and you can often get out quickly if you start over there and you’re famous (“Sorry sir, there’s no backstage access.” “I’m Henry Kissinger, get out of my way.” “Right. Exit door at the back, watch the loading dock”).

I’m trying to get a shot that ultimately won’t come out, and when I come up for air there’s a girl with a gotcha look gazing my way. “You look like Elvis Costello,” she says. Since Elvis is playing in a few hours over on the west side of town, it’s a reasonable guess. I’m flattered nine ways to Thursday and explain that I’m not actually Elvis, but I could be in a certain light; she wanders off.

A few hours later on the west side of town I’m down front for the other Elvis Costello. His two-hour show is spectacular. I do look like him; the first time that came up was around Punch the Clock, which was the post-raging-geek Elvis era.

But suddenly I wonder. Maybe what she actually meant was, “Hello. You’re old, fat, and losing your hair.”

About Linus

The man behind the curtain. But couldn't we get a nicer curtain?
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