A right turn off Shattuck, and cafés and bars and beery, stubbled boys are swallowed up in silence. On either side are close-buttoned houses like sleeping hobbits; I smell rustling trees, unfolding quietly in the dark.
The street rolls under my feet, dreaming of the day's bicycles and cars and dropped keys.
I walk for blocks, checking the address. I should be getting close, but still it's houses and pumpkins on porches and harvest wreaths. I'm not sure I want to get there, I could spend a while here between the sleeping houses, but then I see a pool of light on sidewalk, the sandwich board set out front.
"Here for the Science Review?" asks the waitress.
"I'm here for the band."
They're setting up in the next room, but it's reserved for a collection of beautiful college geeks. I find a place on the fringe, where I can see.
She tests her accordion, a lock of blond hair falling into her face. He tunes his guitar. They play loose and easy. You haven't lived until you hear Princess Yum-Yum sing to a calypso beat and accordion.
The accordionist's brother arrives late in the second set, as the last of the college scientists are wandering out, a last shining look toward the musicians. Brother stretches his legs out under the table and points his iPhone in their direction.
At the mercy of BART schedules, I don't stay long after the show. Back in SF, walking home, I pass a café with people spilling onto the walk. Three hairy white guys are playing hot bluegrass. The one playing harmonica has a washboard hanging from his neck; it sprouts shining cymbals and tiny drums and mysterious noisemakers.
Down South in New Orleans, they sing. The prettiest girls I've ever seen. Did the band in Berkeley sing the same tune? I'm pulled in. They're rocking the place, and I'm in the crowd, stomping and clapping.
It's late before the place closes down, chairs taken in from the sidewalk. I take the long way home, down empty streets.
We're very wide awake, the moon and I.