The young man on stage looks out of place.
At well over six feet, plus stage height, he is a towering figure. The intimidation factor is lost, however, somewhere in his lanky build, long-limbed awkwardness, scruffy appearance, and unassuming manner. His quiet voice does not command the audience's attention, even when magnified by a microphone, and he prefers to adjust his guitar rather than look out over the room.
He starts to play, holding the instrument low against his upper thighs to accommodate the length of his arms. Even then, his bony right wrist is bent at an uncomfortable-looking angle so that long fingers can stretch across the fretboard. He must stoop slightly to reach the microphone, which has been extended to its maximum height. Positioned in this way, shoulders forward, knees bent, his left hand strums away while his blue jean-clad knee moves abruptly up and down as a booted foot stomps in time – usually the right, although the left is ready to take over at a moment's notice.
His mouth presses against the microphone as his eyes close, and his facial expression shifts with the emotion of his music. He seems oblivious to distractions: to the stage lights that colour his pale skin a bright red so similar to that of the trim and raglan sleeves of his t-shirt that they blend together, a perfect contrast to the green body of the shirt; to the pieces of dark, gingery hair within minutes stuck to his forehead with sweat; to the audience, and what a strange figure he strikes up there on stage, off in his own world.
Having fulfilled his vocal obligations, he turns to face the other players on stage, revealing the outline of a thick wallet he didn't bother to remove from the back pocket of his worn, ill-fitting jeans. The light reflects dully off the heels of his boots as he jams away and strikes rock-star poses with his back to the audience. A sudden change in light illuminates the fog that surrounds his head in glaring yellow-white.
The song comes to its end, and he extends the arm holding his guitar, still strumming the final chords with his other hand as his back arches away from the room. As he turns back to the microphone, the crowd applauds their approval and he smiles as he bends down to pick up a harmonica attached to a device reminiscent of orthodontic headgear.
He may look out of place, but this is where he belongs.