IT was like those moments before the house lights went down at a rock concert.
The fog machine was thickening the air, the introductory music was being cranked up, and the crowd outside was getting excited.
"Cautious excitement," said Nathan Field. "There's that anxious anticipation."
"Positive anxiety, driven by reward," added the bloke standing next to him, Brano.
But the reward here was not in hearing concert music but grabbing a drastically discounted instrument. For this was the annual "May the Fourth Be With You" sale at Musos' Corner.
And after COVID-19 restrictions knocked last year's sale online, the bargain hunters were back in force, turning up since Monday morning outside the Newcastle West store.
Nathan Field, dressing in Jedi clothing in keeping with the sale's Star Wars-flavoured name, and Brano were the first in line, having arrived around the same time. So they were 1a and 1b in the queue.
"We've shared number one," said Brano, who had recently moved from Sydney and was a debutant in the sale queue. "Co-number ones!"
For most of the day, they were the only ones of National Park Street, with the Musos' Corner staff discouraging queuing before 6am Tuesday.
But still people came, drawn by the irresistible call of a deal, and to be part of a growing rock cultural event.
"There's been a steady stream of people as the night went on," said Mr Field.
Early arrivals included three members of band Blind Bistro - and the little brother/roadie of guitarist Blake Lewis.
"I'm here for moral support," said Corey Lewis.
All four were in the queue's Top 10, just where a rock band likes to be.
Each had their eye on equipment to help push along Blind Bistro.
So a lack of shut-eye in a camp chair was a small price to pay for a great deal.
"Not a comfortable sleep," admitted bass player Luke McGuiness, who had arrived mid-afternoon on Monday.
Further along the line, Justin Mills (number 16 in the queue) whiled away the hours, strumming his guitar, jamming with mates from his band Salvation Creek, along with musicians he had met in the line.
"It's good to meet a few characters from around here," he said. "I also met boys from Sydney, Forster, Byron Bay, hoping to pounce on these deals."
It wasn't just boys in the queue. Year 12 student Jenna Marley had skipped a couple of classes in the hope of grasping a cheap guitar amplifier. Not that she was being a rock rebel; her Mum, Hoi, was in the line as well.
"It's a new experience," said Mum. "Lots of experiences make life better."
So what had Jenna learnt while in the queue?
"Patience pays off," she replied. "And next time, get here before Nathan (#1a)."
Before the store opened, the queue stretched around the corner into King Street, with hundreds hoping for a bargain.
"Who is ready for May the Fourth!?," hollered Musos' Corner salesman Ian Dunn.
A roar came back down the line, along with one chanted word: "Deals!"
Inside the shop, a couple of dozen Musos' Corner employees prepared for show time.
"It's actually pretty calm," said Andrew Lindsay, who conceived the Star Wars-inspired sale a decade ago. "It's become a tradition. I'm amazed at what it's become."
At 10am, the doors rolled open, and the customers rolled in, 15 at a time, ready to rock. Musos' Corner staff had set up a game of hide-and-seek with the discounted items, secreting them throughout the store.
But Brano quickly found the synthesiser he wanted, and Nathan Field grabbed a guitar discounted by 90 per cent to $399.
The pair then worked with others to help them find what they were after. Just like being in a band, it's all about the harmony and pooling talents.
The Blind Bistro members got what they wanted, and Jenna's lesson in securing a deal paid off - she bought the guitar amp.
Waratah musician Taylan Bragg, who had been number five in the queue, was wandering around with an ecstatic expression on his face and an antique white guitar in his hand. He had bought that Gibson guitar for $3399, with $10,100 taken off the price.
"I love the deal, and the community around it," said Mr Bragg.
As he grasped his own new guitar and looked at the happy faces around him, Nathan Field nodded and said, "The force is truly with us."
Read more: The beat goes on for Musos' Corner sale
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