Exposition: Welcome to Night Vale. If you don't know what it is, or possess only a vague idea or understanding, please just go listen to at least part of the first episode real quick. Here's a link, it's free on YouTube. The episodes are only 20 minutes (of course it only took me 13 seconds to be hooked), and it is my absolute favorite podcast! Even if you only listen to part of the first episode it should be enough to give you a good feel for the show.
Also, Dust. A YouTube channel I have been following for a while. They put out really high quality sci-fi, post-apocalyptic, etc. short films at an amazingly fast pace. Back in 2018 they turned one of the short films into a full length film called "Prospect." If you haven't seen the movie and you like sci-fi, then you should totally see it. My only complaint for the movie was that I wanted there to be more of it!
The Stories: So like I said, at the end of 2018 Dust premiered Prospect at a few theaters across the US. I really love their YouTube channel, and found the preview intriguing, so I texted my friend the details and we both bought tickets. On November 17th, 2018 we got in the car and began the drive to Dallas. We often make the trek to Dallas for
various arts and cultural events, but usually for classical concerts or the opera. (That's just generally what's in Dallas that we're interested in.) At some point, though, the GPS diverts us from our usual route, and we begin to wonder if the address is wrong. In looking for parking, we drive past the building and it looks...empty, maybe even completely shut down or abandoned. We drive down the block and find a parking spot after swerving around potholes the size of small moon craters. We walk up to the building right around dusk and it just looks dead. But the doors aren't boarded up or anything, so at least that's a good sign. I reach out and grab the door handle and pull- and sure enough it swings open. Soon enough we are walking in to the auditorium. For the hype Dust kicked up about the movie I am shocked. The auditorium only has a scant few other patrons in it. My friend and I sit in choice seats: right in the middle close to the front, but not so close we're craning our necks to see. The auditorium on the main level holds over 600, but there were only maybe 10 or 15 other people in there besides us. Everyone gave each other a wide berth and for the most part no one talked to anyone but the person they came with...if they talked at all. Some previews played. Strange images that made no sense, old black and white news reels, singing cartoon popcorn and sodas. And then they played again. And again. And then...the movie started. The movie was sci-fi. It was different. It was a little bit ethereal. The depth and detail in the graphics was amazing. And the theme music. UGH, the theme t h o u g h. So good. And then the movie was over. We were sitting in the dark. We left and the few others left. As we crossed the street my friend and I started talking and agreed simultaneously that that whole experience had felt somehow outside of time. Like it had happened in a vacuum, in a place where time didn't exist, where nothing existed but the theater auditorium for all eternity. We agreed it had felt oddly like some sort of strange purgatory or limbo. That night as I lay in bed I pulled up the theme on YouTube and put in my best earbuds. As soon as the first chord hit I was immediately transported back to the theater. I was sitting in the uncomfortable cold surrounded by stale air and the silent, slowly blinking darkness of the auditorium. I was outside of time. The effect of the song has slowly worn off now, but let me tell you it was some pretty trippy stuff at the time!
(Story 2) Flash forward to last year. January. I have successfully indoctrinated my friend into the Welcome to Night Vale fandom, and we have discovered that the latest live show (A Spy in the Desert) is coming to Dallas. I eagerly purchase tickets and we both anticipate March 3rd. The date arrives and we take off for Dallas again, and since you're reading these stories back-to-back I'm sure you can see where this is going. The GPS diverts, we begin to doubt, there is a niggling at the
back of my mind. Doesn't this all look rather familiar? Suddenly it hits me. We're headed straight back to the cold, timeless arms of purgatory. We avoid the same gaping potholes in the distant parking lot. This time, however, we go to dinner first. My friend enjoys the food as I panic about the time (this is pretty much par for the course for us), and finally we step out of the restaurant and head back towards the theater. Something is different though. We get closer. A lot of things are different. The space in front of the theater hums and glows with neon electricity from the theater marquee, and a string of people snakes from the brightly lit front doors, wraps tightly around the corner of the block, and hugs the darkened buildings down the way. We join the rapidly growing line. People are chatting amiably and excitedly, with their friends, partners, and even strangers in the line! When we finally get inside we are lucky to find seats close-ish to the front but off to the far right. As we wait, the room, nearly full to capacity(!), buzzes with conversation and laughter as fans of all ages and levels of involvement/interest mingle and geek out together. Finally, the show opens with an artist called Dreamboy. He comes on stage with a gentle humor and charm.
He tells stories that turn into songs that are otherworldly and radiate with the aura of eternal Summers and old dreams of running away. Once again, I was transported to a place outside of time. The music seemed to last forever, and even though it wasn't what I had come for I was still a little sad when it ended and moved into the main event. But then I got psyched for WtNV, and suddenly we were off in a soothing, deep-voiced whirlwind of adventure and crazy audience participation. When it ended there was a bubbly, chattering flood of excited people leaving the theater and dispersing in every direction. My friend and I agreed: Night Vale is much better fitted to performing in possible purgatory. I went home and immediately tried to find Dane Terry's (Dreamboy) music to listen to it again and buy it. I found his music, but it was vastly different from what was performed that night. So I guess all I have to hold on to now is the fading memory of an otherworldly echo...
Conclusion: The Tex̷a̴s̴ ̷ ̸T̸h̵e̸a̵t̵r̵e̶ ̵A̸̯͋u̸̢͒d̴͎̍i̸̢̓t̶͕͒o̷͛͜r̶̗̚i̷̼͋u̴͇̾m̴͍̔ operates mostly outside of the boundaries of time, and occasionally accidentally occupies the same rift in space/time as P̴͗͜u̶̩͋̃r̷̟͑͊g̴͇̪̒̇ḁ̵͖͊̒t̷̻͝o̷̝͝r̸͇̎y̷̟̅̌
Final Review: 5 out of 5 stars would definitely be summoned to sit in P̸̡̖̺̼̣͇̞̬̖̾́̀̾̂̎͂͜͝ų̵͙͍̫̥͋̆̅̍̂̅̔ͅŗ̷̪̼̪͔̣̠̦̦̗̿̈́͗̓̽̒́́̈͘͠͝g̸̨͋̓͊̽͠á̴̢̼̰̠̱̙̺̞̤̪̼͇̉̄͐̔̀̈́̇͆́̚̕t̸̘̟̤͖͈̤͈́ọ̴͔̯̬̟͉̅͐͗̂̈́͘r̵̗̰̱̟̙̠̟̳̰͔̀͒̊͑͒̑̿̚͝ͅy̶̠̥̱̠̜̯̙͘ again
(Link to where I found the cover photo for this post.)