Friday, April 25, 2008

On a Night Like This

There are some musicians who are great on CD but disappoint when heard live. The magic of buttons and electronic modification covers a multitude of flaws that emerge when the sound technician is no longer working overtime to perfect their mediocrity. Unless of course you (the concert goer) are actually just hearing their CD while watching them lip sync and do all kinds of crazy dancing and costume changing every other song. That is a different kind of disappointment altogether. The list of musicians who fall into this category is sadly very long.

Then there are musicians who basically sound the same on the CD as they do live. They're solid, you know what you're going to get, not much variation, and it's fine. My quintessential example of this, out of all the concerts I have ever seen, is James Blunt. Literally sang straight from his CD. And it was fine, but I definitely felt like I could have just stuck to my $9.99 iTunes download rather than paying $45 to see the same thing from the 34th row of Radio City.

However, there are also some musicians who are great on CD but who, when seen live, are even better. The magic of electronic music confines them, puts them into a tiny box, from which they are able only able to emerge when live and in person. These are the real gems, because it's like you get to hear a whole new version of each song. The list of musicians who fall into this category is shorter, but I have been fortunate enough to hear a few, including Fleetwood Mac, Jamie Cullum, and Sarah McLachlan. DMB also would fall into this category if he didn't have 50 bajillion live CDs that enable me to experience nearly every one of his songs (kind of) like I would live. I mean, don't get me wrong, I love his live albums, but, well, you know what I mean.

I can now add another to the list. Dave Barnes.

I have been somewhat in love with his music for some time now and have introduced him to many a friend who have universally agreed that he is amazing. I frequently check his website to see if maybe, just maybe he's coming to New York on his tour. Month after month I have been disappointed to see that he is only playing in the south. Yeah, so I get that everyone in Nashville and below loves you, but come on now. A few of us Yankees have good taste too.

So anyhow, he finally came to New York, and I rallied my peeps and got excited for this event. Little did I know how crazy the night would turn out to be. It's like I get spoon fed blog-worthy moments ALL THE TIME.

Right, so we get to Mercury Lounge- it's me and 6 other people, 5 of whom are from the South, 3 of whom went to Vandy (Dave is big in the Nashville scene). It comes to light that Hayley has left her ID at home (you know, grabbed a different purse, didn't think she would need her ID, every girl understands this moment). This is problematic because the venue doubles as a bar, and that pretty much means that ID is required. In my naivete of "All things are possible if you JUST TRY HARD ENOUGH" I think there must be some way to make this work. Given that I have been told since I was a fetus (mom, can you confirm this? I imagine it to be true, but can't actually verify it) that "Anything is Possible" and "I Can Do Anything" just as long as I set my mind to it, I figure this is must apply here. That would be unequivocally false.

So, a little sad panda, we say goodbye to Hayley and Brad, and see dear Dave less two. Approximately 8 minutes into the set I get an idea. And those of you who know me have some inkling that when I get an idea, I am not merely hypothesizing or pontificating for the sake of philosophical thought. Oh no. My ideas nearly always become actualized. This particular idea? Track down one Mr. Dave Barnes after the show and explain the situation and ask him to call Hayley and say hello. Maybe sing a little ditty (yes, I used the word ditty, don't even pretend like you aren't secretly really excited about that fact), or whatever. SOMETHING. I'm a big idea kind of girl. The details.... sometimes lost on me. Ok, often. That's why I surround myself with practical tactical people. Obvi.

The show is wonderful, the music is great, the jokes are hysterical, I gain an even deeper appreciation for Dave, and I am so ready to stalk him, you have no idea. Seeing as how the world is about as big as a Manhattan Studio, we of course run into multiple people we know as the show is clearing out (we're talking a venue that holds 300 people, maybe 400). Small. World. But chit-chat is lost on me. I have a single-minded focus on the goal. Must. Find. Dave.

I talk to the Bass player, explain the situation, he is friendly and sympathetic but not able to help. I scope out every person who looks remotely important, trying to determine who may be able to help. 5 minutes go by. 10 minutes. The crapface bouncers start trying to herd people out. I pretend like I simply don't hear the 6 foot black man standing immediately over my left shoulder instructing people to LEAVE. Dave emerges for a few brief moments, and the ensuing hubbub further annoys the bouncers. Out. Out. Out.

By this point, the only other person with me is Ashley. Now, Ashley grew up in Mississippi and went to Vandy, has met Dave on a few occasions, and happens to be awesome. She also happens to have very distinct red hair. IE, memorable amongst all of the other bazillion people Dave probably meets all the time. So, she and I are in the bar area, and I am quickly losing steam. This is not how it's supposed to happen. Suddenly she says, "That's Dave's brother" and I am back in action. Where? Who? Which one? How do you know? Why do you know? Should I talk to him? With all of these questions answered, I look Ashley straight in the eyes and says, "How confident are you that the man standing there is Dave's brother? If I'm going to embarrass myself, at least I would like to do it to the right person." 90%. Ok, that's an A in my book.

So I walk over.

Me: Hi, I have a random question for you, are you Dave's brother?
Dude: Uh... no...
*brief momentary deflating of my bubble*
Dude: I'm his manager
*huge momentary re-inflating of my bubble*
Me: OH! Well that's great!!
Other dude: Wait, do you have a question for his brother of his manager

So I proceed to explain the situation and he diplomatically responds that "Dave gets requests like this a lot" (really, how often does a girl forget her ID and become unable to see the show, and her ridiculous friend gets a wacky idea to stalk the artist so he'll call her?? I'm sure ALL THE TIME) "soo, what would be really great is if you emailed me and gave me you friend's email and I'll have Dave email her saying he's sorry she missed the show, etc."
Given that it's been about 20 minutes at this point, and I'm basically losing all my momentum, I think, Ok, this might be the best I can do, so, alright. So we go to leave.

Just in this very moment (as these things always go), Dave walks out from behind a curtain, walks right by us, and out the front door. Our situation is suddenly looking much brighter.
We manage to work out way up to him and I just dive right in, "Hey, soooooo, we have a totally crazy situation." He looks amused and then looks at Ashley and says, "Hey, I've met you before, haven't I?" Cha-ching! I was pretty sure he would help us just because he seemed like a chill guy, but now that he remembers Ashley? Oh boy, this is SO happening.

They chitchat about mutual connections and people and places, and then we explain the situation. He think it's completely absurd they wouldn't let her in, and is more than happy to talk to her. When I get ahold of her, he literally takes my phone and walks away up the street chatting with. And now I'm all emotional, having gotten so excited about doing this and seeing it through, I get all teary (SUCH a girl). Must hold it together. So he finishes talking with her, gives me the phone, and I'm so happy I'm all, "Can I hug you?" as we leave... and in fact do hug this wonderful human being who seriously made my week.

So, maybe Hayley didn't get to see Dave, but it made for a more interesting and eventful evening. And someday we'll see him together and reminisce about this story, hopefully when he's really famous and travels all over the country to huge amazing venues. Because that would be awesome.


Gretchen said...

best show (and story) of all time :)

preethi said...

You are one of my favorite people alive. Or not alive, for that matter.