The crowd returned its attention to the Junkie Wombats, and seemed to make up its collective mind that, yeah, actually, these guys could still rock, there wasn’t anything terminally wrong with them. The second half of their set went big, emptying the bars, as people got their dance on. 11N made sure they stuck to funk and psychedelia, and the highlight was a medley of Parliament covers, segueing to a hammond-based version of Right Here, Right Now.
Bob and Jim had entered through a side door to avoid attracting any attention, and peered out from the wings at the fevered reaction to the JW’s noise. Bob started to hyperventilate, and had to go and sit down on a nearby amplifier. He put his head in his hands.
“We can’t match that!” he wailed. “Look at it. They’re a real band. We just got lucky that time.”
Jimmy came over and put an arm around Bob’s shoulders and produced a hip flask from somewhere. Bob took a sip, then a gulp.
“We’ll be fine. A bit of extra pressure to perform will spur us on. Yeah, that sounds plausible.” He took a swig from the flask himself.
There was a huge roar from the crowd, and a few seconds later 11N appeared backstage, grinning hugely. Bob assembled a smile of his own to greet him.
“Dude, this crowd is sweating up,” 11N said. At some stage he’d thrown his shirt into the crowd, so now he was topless apart from a couple of strings of wooden beads.
“Good?” Bob guessed.
“They are tripping balls, man. Balls. What’s in this?” He took the hip flask without waiting for an answer and tipped a big mouthful down his throat. “Pow!”
Jimmy took the flask back. Other members of the Junkie Wombats were standing around behind 11N, slapping each other on the back and passing around a couple of bottles of imported European lager.
Bob and Jimmy looked at them.
“Where’s the big lad?” 11N asked.
“Thor will be here in a bit.”
“Sure, sure. We’d better get back on for our encore–” and, indeed, the crowd was shouting for more “–but I’m looking forward to seeing you guys again. You’ll have to go some to top this, though.” He grinned again.
Bob’s smile contorted as he tried to stop himself from launching himself at 11N’s smug face. 11N turned and moved off in the direction of the stage. The crowd were whooping as the other Junkie Wombats took their positions. 11N paused.
“I heard you and that bird broke up, yeah? Sorry to hear that. Is it OK if I call her?”
Again, he didn’t wait for an answer before striding onto the stage triumphantly. Bob wasn’t able to answer anyway; he just opened and shut his mouth a couple of times, then started to hyperventilate again.