He complimented her. That was unexpected, as well. With her rat's nest of dark hair and bony features, she never really thought of herself as 'attractive'. She supposed this was a fairly innocuous comment; he was simply saying something nice about her for its own sake.
Still. Maybe he had a point.
And just like that the performance was over. Nate hastily clapped for the singer, only to see the girl approaching the table. Sophie, the guy said. She had done a good job, though Nate hadn't heard very much given the circumstances down on the floor.
"You're good." Nate said simply, with a slight complimentary uplift she thought was appropriate. The young man had gone off somewhere, something about his mother. Nate looked at the empty chair, and then back to Sophie. Not judgingly, simply curious. Did the other girl want to sit with her?
Then they called her name. She was next, apparently. Nate stood up, gathered her things and nodded politely at Sophie before making her way to the microphone.
Standing in front of it, Nate looked out into the crowd. "Hi. I'm Nate. I wrote this song, so enjoy I guess." She probably sounded a little robotic, but hopefully that would be absolved during the performance.
So she performed.
And it was awful.
The applause was polite and friendly, but judging from the expressions, most of the crowd didn't seem to have enjoyed the performance. It was a twofold trouble; Nate's guitar playing was, politely, unrefined. She missed a lot of notes and kept playing off-key, making it sound like a jumble of random noises.
Perhaps it was also the lyrics; the references to 'Finnegan's Wake' were perhaps a bit too obscure for the average attendee. Especially given that the majority of the novel was incomprehensible babble without access to a truckload of languages and other resources.
All in all, in the words of one commenter, 'Well, she has a lovely voice, but she probably should take some guitar lessons.' Nate heard this comment, whispered though it was, and shrugged. It was true, frankly. She didn't like to deceive herself; she was learning, on her own, and eventually she'd do quite well.
Oh, well. A typical performance, really.
((Nate Chauncey continued in Splatter Job