I’m rewatching the History of Rock ‘N’ Roll series that was made for TV in 1995 and marveling at the phenomenal way art morphs over time — sometimes gracefully, sometimes forcefully, but always ceaselessly and always by necessity. I had many rites of passage in my adolescence, but two stand out: being required to learn how to change a tire before I could get my driver’s license (thanks, dad!), and watching the History of Rock ‘N’ Roll.
I’m so starved for opportunities to write that apparently I will publish anything. This year for my family’s Christmas letter, we each wrote our own couple of paragraphs. My parents mentioned something about the idea of “on the other hand…” being a sort of theme for them this year. The most major development in their lives was that they moved, which was stressful but also an incredible learning experience. So this is what I wrote for my portion of the letter: Continue reading ““On the other hand…””
This week, I was given the opportunity to speak at an American Jewish Committee event in Seattle. It was their annual reception and campaign event, meant to inform donors about recent AJC action and advocacy. I was sent on a weeklong free trip to Israel about a year ago by a group called Project Interchange, which is a division of AJC, so AJC was looking for some testimonials from people in the area who had taken this trip in the past year. Continue reading “12/2/2012 speech for AJC Seattle”
On one especially auspicious Tuesday night in late June, we poured some red wine, turned off all the lights except the string of dim red Christmas ones, and I put on a skirt I don’t have any business even owning. We queued the familiar six songs of a local artist, the only songs of AKA360 on ReverbNation, put the list on repeat, and danced….
This was written ages ago, while I was waiting for the Michael Franti & Spearhead / Jason Mraz concert in Seattle to start.
With nothing better to do, I’m writing while I stand. I’m on my 2nd or 3rd hour of standing, but all is good with the prospect of seeing Jason Mraz… again. Number three, baby. I guess I’m kind of a Jason Mraz hog [or maybe hag? I can’t read my writing], but what do I care?
I smell weed, who knows where it comes from.
Oh, I just found out. A dreadlocked guy who rose a bit of havoc trying to get more to the front. His famous last words: “I’m not a dick but…”
The poor, clean-cut Mraz crowd doesn’t know how to deal with these hippies. The show goes on.
The air is warm with body heat. What a nasty description, I know. It’s a nasty feeling, too.
I wore my best shoes, as in, the most comfortable and functional ones I have. But I’m finding myself wishing a band would start so I can’t feel my feet.
Up first is Michael Franti and Spearhead, with whom I’ve only really acquainted myself in the past few nights. As I told my mom, it’s sort of music with a message crossed with reggae.
In pure Seattle fashion, fans have blown up a large trash bag, which would otherwise be used as a makeshift poncho, and are using it as a beach ball replacement, bouncing it around the crowd.
I’m hoping Spearhead isn’t so crazy, but after Gogol Bordello, I think I could handle anything.
Oh, was I wrong. There was mosh pit mania all over again during Michael Franti, and by the time Jason Mraz started, the crowd was packed so tightly that I could not breathe, let alone move. Most people had to crowd surf to get out, but I was all alone and didn’t want to do any such thing. So I tagged along with a couple who were standing near me, and we made our way to the back. We got death glares and a few possibly intentional shoves, but we were just glad to get out of there to breathe.
That was the farthest back I’ve ever been during a Jason Mraz concert, and it was still fantastic.
Ok, so there are some songs that make you cry, right? “Let It Be” is one of those for me, as is “Imagine.” That’s why, even though I love love love those songs, I don’t listen to them very often.
But, have you ever just loved the experience of listening to music so much that it just made you want to cry? Maybe I’m just overly emotional, but that’s what The Mountain Goats are doing to me.
Two nights ago, I liked tMG a lot. I’d listened to probably 30-40 songs of theirs, and I definitely had a few favorites memorized. I definitely liked them enough to spend $20 on their concert in Seattle, but was unfamiliar with them enough that I would have second-guessed getting that ticket if I knew that it would really turn out to be over $30.
I didn’t think John Darnielle was particularly attractive.
I even have to confess that I didn’t like his voice all that much most of the time.
Also, one of my two favorite songs was pretty much their most famous single, which always makes me feel like a bad fan, because I always feel like I should know more obscure material, especially if I like the band enough to go to one of their concerts. It’s like how die-hard Jason Mraz fans (such as myself) hate it when people who only know “I’m Yours” go to his concerts. I want to tell them to sit down, shut up, and listen to Curbside Prophet.
Anyway, there’s also a ton of tMG history that I am still not familiar with. Like John Darnielle’s time in rehab… or even his age. I don’t know if it’s weird that I don’t want to go to someone’s concert without knowing this stuff first, but it’s true. I felt especially bad going with someone who knew everything and was just about as mesmerized as a person could be.
I’m not really sure whether to make this long story short or not.
There’s so much that I could say… about the openers, the crowd, the songs, the performance, John Darnielle, my friend’s bordering-on-religious experience (he’s probably so euphoric that he won’t eat for days…), about how they played my absolute favorite tMG song, “Love Love Love.” And actually, he played my other favorite song also, “This Year.”
Here’s the setlist:
1. 1 samuel 15:23
2. letter from belgium
3. isaiah 45:23
5. romans 10:9
6. love love love
7. orange ball of peace
8. sign of the crow
9. woke up new
10. thank you mario, but our princess is in another castle
11. 1 john 4:16 [w/ final fantasy]
12. going to fucking bristol [w/ owen pallett on violin and john on vocals; no guitar]
13. hebrews 11:40
14. hast thou considered the tetrapod
15. psalms 40:2
16. against pollution
17. this year
18. ezekiel 7 and the permanent efficacy of grace
19. no children
20. the best ever death metal band in denton
21. see america right
And ever since I saw this concert, I don’t really know what to do with myself. Granted, it’s only been about 24 hours, and I’ve kept very busy, but still. It was an amazing show… and I don’t really know whether to laugh, or cry, or just listen to their music continuously, or hold off on listening to it to savor the memory, or what.
Some moments last forever, and some flare up with love, love, love.
I don’t think it’s possible to describe a laser light show to someone who has never seen one, but I’m going to try anyway.
Saturday night was the first time I’d gone to a concert where I had no idea who the headliners were or even really their genre. I didn’t pay for the ticket, which is a plus, but it would have been worth it even if I had. I was a little bored waiting for the show to start, but there was a DJ and it was a woman, which was cool to experience.
For …various reasons, I was pretty apprehensive once the show was about to start. We were right in the middle of the crowd, and I was terrified that the scene was going to turn into a mosh pit and we were going to get trompled and stepped on, and I was going to get sick and hot and miserable. My friends said, “it’s not that kind of show.”
Then the music started, and it became a little more clear that the crowd wasn’t going to be such a problem… but was the music going to be too loud? I was a little afraid that it was going to be a little too intense. My friends didn’t say anything– they were pretty wrapped up in the show, being the ones who actually knew what they were hearing.
Then… the laser light show started. My breath caught momentarily and I got nervous about getting sick again, but then it was too cool to miss by being sick, so I decided not to be sick, and instead to immensely enjoy this new experience.
Ghostland Observatory played for maybe an hour and a half, and it was the fastest hour and a half concert I think I’ve ever been to. I don’t remember being at a concert where I liked the music less, but wanted it to go on more.
It’s not my favorite genre, I must admit. It’s sort of electronica/rock/experimental, which I generally have very little patience with. I’m not sure whether the light show is what made it amazing, or just my state of mind, or what. I got home and tried to listen to the band on eMusic, and I could barely get through one song.
I don’t care. From now on, I have a resolution to broaden my horizons, even if it pegs me as a hipster (which, actually, I take a forbidden pleasure in–and I think that means I don’t really stand a chance of being a hipster anyway).