In The No Time Zone:The Last Concert Cafe by Stephen Wright

1403 Nance Street
Houston, TX 77002

January 2004–After shutting the door to my truck, I began to walk towards a lonely street corner to meet some friends.  Nancy, a decaying street in downtown was surrounded by prehistoric buildings.  The abandoned looking buildings were screaming for the city to remodel and refurbish them.  The curbs were chipped in many spots and the street lights flickered.  The night air was cool and humid and the area seemed deserted, except for the parked cars lining the streets like birds on a powerline.  My destination was the Last Concert Café. By day it is a    Mexican restaurant serving local workers ranging from businessmen to workers in the surrounding warehouses.  By night the Last Concert Café is a bar with loud live music.  Standing under the flickering street, light I wondered what was taking my friend so long.  Finally as a car pulls up, my friends and I journey towards the entrance of the last concert.  During the short walk s bum sitting on the curb hollers “can y’all spare any change?”  Unfortunately none of us have any change to spare.  Nearing the entrance the sound of music gradually gets louder and louder.  The last concert café was in a plain white building with no sign of what it is.  Clearly the café relied on its reputation and word of mouth to attract customers.

The café contains an inside portion with a much larger outdoor area with a stage.  I walk through the entrance and notice several groups of people conversing to my right and a bar and a rickety table to my left.  I walk to the table and pay the 5 dollar entrance fee and continue walking through a doorway that leads outside.  There are Filthy looking bathrooms ahead of me and an empty room to the right of it with tables and chairs.  Inside the room there are various old pictures and an old jukebox that obviously does not work. Surprisingly the antique-like chairs do not wobble back and forth.  The music is now loud and I can see an area ahead that has picnic tables and benches surrounding a small stage.  The picnic tables are filled with all types of people from preps to hippies.  I walk further as I pass hippie merchants with tables set up.  They are selling bongs, pipes, bubblers and other “tobacco” smoking accessories.  The glass pieces are perfected to the point of finely crafted artwork.  Past the merchants, the pavement ends and the picnic table area is floored with sand.  I stand and chat for a while with my friends and then we decide to sit down at a table.

We sit at a table in the front towards the right.  Most of the tables are full of people so it is quite uncomfortable seating.  An old woman probably in her early 60s dressed in hippy attire roams through the crowd talking to people. She seems a little bit out of place but still oddly fits in.  A drip of sweat rolls into my eye stinging it with great pain.  The band is playing rock music with a slight bob marley sound added to it.  My nostrils picked up the strong unique smell of marijauna and I noticed a couple of people standing to the right of us smoking a joint.  The night seems to be getting hotter as my forehead begins to perspire.  A person walking by accidentally kicks sand on my feet. There is a very mellow mood in the café and time seems to slow down to a grinding halt while you are there.  The band stops playing and exits the stage. At the same time several people with bongos, congas, etc. form a circle in front of the stage.  It starts out with about three people beating on their drums and then slowly more and more people walk up to  beat on a bongo.  Soon there are about 20-25 people in the drum circle.  They create a pretty good rhythm but you can still hear some people messing up or getting off beat.  As I look at my cell phone I notice it reads 1:55, later than I thought it was.  The drum circle continues to beat on their congas and bongos for about 30 minutes.  There was even someone with a trombone that was attempting to play along to the beat but he didn’t seem like he even knew how to play the trombone.  I wouldn’t be surprised if he had borrowed it from a friend or had it in middle school but after so many years has forgotten how to play.

At first the last concert café was pretty interesting and fun but now it has gotten boring and dull.  My sandals were sandy and I was tired of the sweat dripping into my eyes.  The last concert café is one of those places where you should only go once every two months otherwise it gets old and is not very fun at all.  This was the second time I had been here in the past 2 or 3 weeks.

As I adjust my hat and wipe the sweat from my forehead with my sleeve, I get up from my seat and say goodbye to my friends.  It looked like the band was going to take the stage for a second time but I really didn’t care all that much.  I just wanted to leave and go home or somewhere else.  I exit through the entrance of the last concert café and back into the real world with an empty wallet; I spent all my money on beverages.  Sleepily, I retrace my steps back through the dark streets to my vehicle.  I open the door, start the engine, and begin the long  journey to my house.



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