It’s not lost on me that there are far more serious problems in the world than The Old Guy at the Show not being able to see a concert. But this is a music blog so …
There has been one constant in my life since I was fourteen. It’s been live music. My heart speeds up when the house lights go down, the band steps on stage, and glorious noise bonds a group of strangers.
But that has disappeared.
When I used to find out a concert was coming to town, I started obsessing about the show. I listened to their albums, read reviews, and bored everyone around me about the event. If you have met me, I probably told you about an upcoming show. I apologize if you didn’t want in-depth analyses on everyone from Lyle Lovett to Gwär. But I really didn’t want you to miss out on these life altering experiences.
It’s the combination of poetry, tribal rhythms, comedy, and visual sensations is what I miss the most. There is a powerful energy that is created that makes me want to witness it over and over again. Sometimes it’s seeing a punk band in a dive bar. Other times, it’s a stadium show making you feel like the musicians are just playing for you (not the other 74,000 in attendance).
You find your musical community. Whenever I see the avant-garde band Of Montreal, I know I will run into a group of diehard fans that come up with elaborate costumes for every show. We bond over recalling past concerts with feather cannons and dancing monsters. When I see John Paul White, I will see the same devoted family bonding over their love for White’s music. It’s heartwarming to hear the stories of the kindness the musician has shown the family over the years. Standing in line before last year’s Raconteurs show, I ran into two fellow members of a Third Man Records vinyl club owned by Jack White. We bonded over our love for everything associated with the rocker from Detroit (and it wasn’t Ted Nugent). I ran into one of the club members again a few week later at a Shovels and Rope show. Friendships are instantly formed with others that have the same excellent taste (or lack of) in music.
I miss the stories the musicians tell during their sets. Glen Hansard is not only one of the best performers I have ever seen, he is also a remarkable storyteller. He can tell tales about a six-week epic boat trip across a treacherous sea or a visit to a local book store with the equal passion and enthusiasm. Steven Kellogg crafted his masterful between song banter into a Ted Talk and a recently released book entitled The Object in the Mirror. In between singing, dancing, and jumping, Michael Franti’s inspirational speeches stir up so much positivity it’s like seeing a musical motivational speaker.
Lastly, it’s caused an absence of magic in my life. DeVothchKa, the local Colorado band that can be best described as gypsy like vampires, never disappoints. They have elaborate productions with intricate costumes complete with breathtaking aerialists the Slavic Sisters defying gravity. I yearn for indie artist Diane Coffee dressing like a space alien embracing his inner David Bowie. I miss Jenny Lewis transporting a venue into a disco party complete with bouncing balloons.
Live music performances are beginning again with a limited number of audience members. It doesn’t seem real or safe yet. But it gives me hope the power of music will be returning soon to help us celebrate life and escape from it at the same time.
A Save Our Stages Act is being sent to congress to ensure live performance venues across America survive through the pandemic. Please click this link for more information: https://www.saveourstages.com/?fbclid=IwAR2V6z78PseMQRF8NpGmYARECcfIsO1xZ2yiBMX1MVGltPiQqoV8-dVzW6g
See you at the next show. I’ll be the one talking you into seeing another concert that just might change your life or at least your night.