Friday, January 31, 2014

Bad Band, Good Band

I treated myself to dinner before heading to the show, waiting at the venue for what seemed like an interminable amount of time until they started letting people in. I had decided, since I had been so disappointed by my last experience, that I wanted to go upstairs and watch the show from a nice seat overlooking the stage. It had been a longish day at work and I justified the sitting in that, at least if I was disappointed again, it would not be so bad, since I was mostly out of the way and I would not be tired and sore afterward. The bar was having a vodka special with bitters, and I realized I could, in fact, drink something containing bitters, so I settled in with vodka sodas with a small amount of bitters and wondered when I would make friends.

My goalmy lifelong goal, it seemed, or at least, my constant hope—was to try to make friends. So far the score was fair to middling, in that I have managed to meet people and have made a few connections, but have not yet gotten to the point of real friendship. I suppose this was also due to the fact that I was still upset at having lost another deep friend, which I realized was my fault in the end. I should not aspire to have soulful connections with anyone but the Boy. And yet, sometimes ten years later, sometimes five, as I would watch a connection drift closed, punishing myself for feeling, I would mourn the loss. To fill it I tried to make more friends, even though it seemed like this was merely just an invitation for continued heartache. But then, what is life if the heart doesn’t ache? I sat in my chair waiting for the show to start while my brain flitted into this place, chastising me for missing friends, forcing me to consider the now, and became saddened that I am here, tonight, alone.

After a drink, as I waited for the first band, some girls pulled up beside me and asked if the chairs were taken. I said no and did my best to engage them. It was an utter bomb. They liked music, but not the way I liked music. They enjoyed talking, but I tired of the banality of the conversation quickly. However, for the next few hours we were “friends” in that I trusted them not to steal my bag while I went to the bathroom between sets and there would not be a shiving between now and the end of the show.

“Do you know the first act?” the girl sitting closer to me asked.

“They were unmemorable, but I did check them out.” I had checked out all the bands this evening, and it was true: the first act was rather unmemorable. The band was trying too hard to find a place to fit between genres with drawn-out droning electronics and synths and the more upbeat genre rock of post-indie garage. I can imagine a band in which this would work but this was not that band. Roommate was a band that managed to pull it off, and did it far better. Balliaf nailed the rock with just a touch of electric, also pulling off the desired effect. This band, sadly, did not.

The second band I had checked out was the Kopecky Family Band with an interesting little album called Kids Raising Kids. Honestly, Kopecky got me the ticket. Listening to Kopecky I immediately wanted to see them in concert. They were a fun little ensemble band with a very well-matched male and female duetish vocal lead, music that was influenced by southern bluegrass without becoming country, and had a nice rock/ska sensibility. Their songs were fun and upbeat, in the kinds of keys that generally tended to strike a chord in the musical side of my brain and I fell in love with them on first listen and bought both their albums. I was very excited to see them, and in some ways, even more so than the RAA (who I continued to fret would disappoint me again).

As predicted, the first band, after a song, got boring. The same kind of boring that Lord Huron was when I went to see Alt-J. After one song you were done and ready to move on, and sadly they played a one-hour set. I drank.

I went to the loo and my seatmates were happy to watch my bag. They spent most of the first set talking about work and even though the band was uninspiring I did my best to listen to the music and not their conversation. Kopecky took the stage quickly, setting up their own instruments and getting ready to perform. I was rather excited and was not disappointed. As with the albums, the band brought such vibrancy to their performance. The crowd banter was perfectly jolly, the onstage interactions were cute and playful, and the music pushed us up and down, lifting with one hand, crashing us down into ourselves with the other, and then evening it out and settling our souls up and down, not like a roller coaster, but like life, blending and soothing out the hurts and pains and realities with the realization that we were not alone in feeling that up and down, turmoil: it was everyone, everywhere. We were all expansive and here we were experiencing the human condition and it was okay. They were perfect. The set could have been three hours and I would not have been unhappy; however, they were sadly on for only an hour before clearing away for the main event.

Another trip to the loo. I ran, my seatmate ran, and then we waited while the band set up. I noticed immediately that the RAA was on stage setting up their gear as well. My dread was still in place, but I was starting to feel some small chips in that dread. Hopefulness, perhaps.

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