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Making Music At The End Of The World

In late February 2020, Sheverb slammed through one more song in front of a rowdy crowd at the Ski Inn. The Austin band had traveled twelve hundred miles to make an album in the semi-abandoned Southern California town of Bombay Beach. For a month, the locals embraced the band members, shared meals, and danced to their songs. An impromptu, vibrant community grew around the music and art, like how a little bit of rain makes the desert bloom. Darker clouds loomed on the horizon.

The members of Sheverb packed up their instruments and squeezed into their van. I remember downloading a bunch of podcasts on my phone to make the drive home,” says guitarist Betty Benedeadly. And there was like all of these podcast headlines about a pandemic, and I was like, Is this fucking real? What is going on?’” They had spent a month off the grid and now the grid was cruelly reasserting itself. February crept into March, the band settled back in Austin, and the pandemic moved in too, first shuttering South By Southwest, then the entire Austin music scene. I remember those first few weeks being like, man, why the fuck didn’t we stay [in Bombay Beach]?” says Benedeadly. The last song of Sheverb’s last set at the Ski Inn is the last time the band has played together.

Read more of my profile of Sheverb, where I touch on the American West as both a utopian and apocalyptic landscape.

October 5, 2020