On Sunday night, I left The Boiled Owl around 10:30, having hung around to watch the last third of Drive, a film experience that’s probably as close as a person can get to living inside a video game. My goal involved getting to Shipping & Receiving, the new Southside venue (“Shipping & Receiving Arrives,” Aug. 28), to catch Sally Majestic, hang out for a couple of beers, and shove off before achieving a blood-alcohol content of push-your-luck percent. The far corner of the Owl, I thought, was a good place to prep myself for the sound and throng of an outdoor show.
I stayed at the Owl long enough to drink a beer and a half, cashing out right before the credits rolled. When I’d seen Drive in the theater, I was struck by how Ryan “Even Your Mom Wants to Bang Me” Gosling’s unnamed stunt driver only ever felt at peace inside the glass-and-steel confines of an automobile. At the end, with that shot of him sitting there in that primered Chevelle, I considered the amount of time I spend in a car and whether I ever feel at home in it. Answer: No, because I hate my fucking car. When I eventually pulled onto Rosedale, I looked through the windshield, my knuckles hilled over the steering wheel at 11 o’clock. The light at Hemphill turned green. “No, dummy,” I said to myself. “This is not at all like the movie.”
The most interesting thing I’d heard about Shipping & Receiving was that it was far away, in a no-man’s land, hidden in a warren of truck yards and warehouses, the whole area crisscrossed by crackhead foraging trails, and, I dunno, unexploded mines left over from the Spanish American War or some shit. I turned left onto Jennings; it probably wasn’t the best route to take, but I followed it to Vickery and headed east until I heard music. Even without the address, I managed to find the party marking the last night of the joint’s grand opening, noting how dumb it is that people make things seem a million times worse, more arduous, or more undesirable than things usually are.
I finally found the place on South Calhoun Street, realizing that the good (read: not obviously located near a crackhead foraging trail) parking spots had probably been claimed since Friday. My car came to a rest about three blocks away, near a big empty lot. At least there were other cars. I figured if people left the club all at once, three blocks away was probably as safe as directly in front of the building, right? In any case, I headed back in the direction of the music, currently heavy with saxophone. The air was muggy, and the lights from the outdoor stage were suffused with a sort of sticky glow. I went toward the lights.
Wandering over a patio wavy with old bricks and settled dirt, I climbed the stairs and walked through an open garage door and was caught by how … put-together the place seemed. Shipping & Receiving feels like an urban loft, its exposed brick and distressed tin fixtures mixed with punk rock fliers and leather-blend couches. Cocktail tables dot the landscape, and the back half is occupied by a shuffleboard table and a pool table, though the latter wore an out-of-order sign over its coin slots. But the bar, an elegant island of stained wood crowned with liquor shelves and televisions, made me feel like Shipping & Receiving truly is different from any other bar in town. The show outside, once Sally got rolling, was a party-friendly bunch of beardos, weirdoes, and chicks who love to dance; indoors were more of the same, mellowing instead in conversation and the low-key vibe of muted ambient lighting.
Inside, I drank a couple Silver Bullets and planned to head home, but then the sky dumped a bunch of rain, cutting Sally’s set by a couple songs. I waited ’til my second beer was warm and hit the freeway with my windows down, thinking how nothing can duplicate what it’s like to drive around after a late-night summer storm, even if your car is less of a sanctuary and more of a broken home. –– Steve Steward
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