Wednesday, August 14, 2013

27th New Thing ~ "The Band You're About To Hear"

Back in early April, I opened an email. Mid-way through, I read the words...
"On that note, would you like to go with me to..."
"Yes, " is my answer. Before I know the event or occasion, before I see the date or the destination. "Yes."
Before I read another word....

This is one of the most important determinations I've made through out the New Things. To remain open to (most) all offers.
I may. . . . usually but not exclusively...lean a tiny bit toward planning and analysis. I love looking forward to something exciting. My nature is not overwhelmingly spontaneous. Except for some areas of foolishness...

With accomplishing New Things in my cross hairs, when someone utters the words, "Do you want to..." I commonly cut them off mid-inquiry.  "Yes." It's really hard to do 50 New Things if your first response is 'No.'
I'm sure there have been offers that I've declined but I can't remember them right now. (Convenient..) Except, of course, those offers that are simply cost prohibitive. There have definitely been some New Things that have yet to happen, the deal breaker being financial. I hate that that's true. But it is.

Turns out this specific offer was not about doing a New Thing but really about the chance to spend a day together in Seattle doing Fun, Unusual Things. Like learning to knit in the University Bookstore which was, in addition to being Fun and Unusual, New to me.
But being behind in New Things and July looming large, just weeks away, I was constantly on the look out.

The main point of our day-tripping, besides Sue's lovely company and our relaxed time together, was to see a concert at The Neptune. A group that Sue had happily stumbled upon was in town.

As May 13th approached, I was very careful to keep from learning anything about the band we were to see. I loved the idea of going into it 'blind.' Sue sent me some details and a link to a video but I didn't click and I averted my eyes when needed. All I knew was their name: The Black Angels. I didn't know if this group was Rock, Polka, Disco . . . . Opera, Blues, Death Metal . . . . . . Celtic Folk or your popular Children's Zydeco Lullaby Rap. I mean...Black Angels could be anything, right?

After Knitting 101 and lunch in the bookstore cafe, we made our way to the theater with plenty of time before the concert. (Sue is clearly a girl after my own heart.) We took some time to look around the theater. It's really a pretty venue. Lots of personality, this one. Recently renovated, I think. They offer monthly tours.

Even the bathrooms were lovely!

For our event, it was mostly General Admission seating. I think there was a small area roped off on the main floor, but with the mob who ended up standing right against the stage once the music started, they probably weren't able to see a thing besides the back of all those bobbing heads and the beer in their damp hand. We decided for seats in the balcony. Three or four rows back from the rail.

 The Black Angels werre the headline group.
Wikipedia describes them as a psychedelic rock group.

Wall of Death and H.E.K opened the show:
Wall of Death Video  ~ Marbles Blue....  They weren't my #1 band that night but I do find this video interesting.  Do you remember this ride at the fair? The Rotor. It was the only ride that ever made me queasy. I believe in the law of centrifugal force but in this video I would not have wanted to be on the opposite wall from that keyboard. And is that a cell phone in his pocket or is he just so happy to be mentioned on my blog?  :)

H.E.K Video  ~ You Rascal You.
H.E.K. (Hanni El Khatib) turns out to be my favorite group of the evening. And I admit that my preference is based, not in small part, on my fascination with the lead singer. According to Wikipedia, El Khatib is of Palestinian and Filipino descent. And according to Barbie, he's incredibly striking, a charismatic presence on stage and I had a difficult time taking my eyes off him. Not that I tried all that hard.
Their song Can't Win 'Em All was featured in this Audi Superbowl 2013 Commercial

About half way through the set of the second band, I became inspired and determined to find a New Thing in this surprising evening. Surely there's an opportunity for brave and daring. My mind continued to work on H.E.K. continued to play.

Sue and I shifted seats to be a bit closer to the balcony rail. There was a gentleman in the seat in front of us. He seemed to be alone. We struck up a conversation. He was probably in his mid to late 40's. Turned out he was with his teenage daughter. "With' in the sense that they were in the same building. She was down in the front row against the stage. He is frequently her transportation and guardian angel to such events. Clearly a win-win set up. She gets to go to these fun shows; Dad gets to make sure she's safe and home at a reasonable time on her school nights. If I remember correctly she's 15 years old.

"Where is she?" I asked.
"Down there next to the stage." He pointed her out.

My first thought was, "Wow, not me. No way." I hate that claustrophobic crowd situation. My head says "I am small and easily trampled." Just the thought of being enclosed and trapped against the stage makes me itchy with anxiety.
Then my second thought was, "Bingo! There's your New Thing, silly!" 

Front row of a rock concert. Yikes. I knew I could go down there, weave through all those tall, energetic, likely-intoxicated people and make my way to the very front. Although, I figured most of the people were holding fast to their prime real estate and probably wouldn't appreciate my intrusion. I sat in my balcony seat for three or four more songs, wondering if I dared. Contemplating what it must feel like to be crushed.
The balcony was so comfortable and safe from trampling, after all. But I desperately needed every single New Things that I could muster. If I sat there and thought about it long enough, the evening would be over and the default no-decision woulds have been made.

I had to ask myself the $100,000 question, "At the end of the evening, will you regret not trying?" Sometime I HATE that question.

"Which one is she, again?" I asked Mike, the cool father in the row before me.
"She's the blonde with long hair over to the right. Next to that tall guy with the camo baseball cap."
"Is she with the camo cap guy?"
"No, she's by herself."
"And what's her name?" I asked over the music.

So between groups, when the stage crew was taking down H.E.K instruments and setting up for The Black Angels, I told Sue I was going down, could she watch my purse.
I walked up the aisle and through the curtain to the upper lobby. Chanting to myself, "Be brave, be brave!" And not watching where I was going, I ran smack into the chest of the lead singer of H.E.K.
He'd come up to autograph t-shirts and posters being sold. Bonus! He lost nothing upon closer inspection. He excused himself for our delightful collision and made his way behind the concession table with an incredible smile. I went down stairs, bolstered. (Courage honored again!)

I wound through the crowd below. It wasn't as hard as I thought. Short girls get certain privileges. Gaining entry is one.
"Excuse me," I said as I slipped between three or four people jammed together.

"Hi. Just me again. Sorry," I said to a very wide-shouldered angry-looking man, like I'd gone by him once before, although I hadn't.

"Sorry, excuse me," I said repeatedly, as I wonder if it'd just be easier to duck between the legs of the really tall people.

Eventually I made it to the person I believe to be my target. It was very noisy, even between sets. Black Angel instruments tuning. People yelling to be heard over other yelling people.

"Hi! Are you Shelby?"  I yelled.
"Yes," she yelled back.
"I'm Barbie, I was talking to your Dad upstairs and he pointed you out to me. Do you mind if I stand with you for a few songs?"
"Sure," she said.

We talked above the noise the best we could. The crew is still transitioning between bands.

Shelby goes to these concerts a lot. It was a Tuesday night, but as long as she gets up for school each morning her parents are willing to take her. The aforementioned father was up in the balcony. And her mother was outside in the car studying for a test, she's in nursing school. Shelby's going to see MGTM at The Showbox the next night.
"Pretty cool parents," I told her.
She agreed.

I explained to her about how being down by the stage is quite claustrophobic for me....and about the New Things. We had a great time talking about some of my other New Things and she talked to me about some courageous things that she's done herself.
She loves to draw and is thinking about going to an art school.

Soon The Black Angels took the stage. The energy was a hundred times what it was upstairs. It was no longer possible to talk but I guess talking was no longer the point.

The crowd moved as one, even as people moved independently. The energy was manic. But I didn't feel smashed, which was a bonus and a surprise. I'd never heard of The Black Angels but clearly many of the there people had, as they screamed the lyrics along with the band.

It wasn't nearly as uncomfortable or panic-inducing as I'd imagined. making mountains where there were none. And no surprise, but I loved the feel of percussion against my chest. The bass drum, the floor toms. My head bobbed of its own volition. I stayed down there for their first four or five songs but then decided to go back up to Sue and Shelby's dad, Mike. I enjoyed it down on the floor but it was difficult to really hear the songs. Frankly, standing that close to the stage and the speakers it was mostly just very loud noise. Noise that makes you want to jump and join in, which is wonderful and contagious. But I also enjoy hearing the music. Shelby and I traded contact information, I expressed my gratitude for her generosity and we said good-bye.

This is what The Black Angels look like from the balcony.

They had a lot more lights and special effects than the first two bands.
It was a bit Pink Floyd-esque, at times.

It feels to me that The Neptune is aptly named.
Most of my make-do phone pictures are quite blue and remind me of the sea.

27th New Thing ~ Front Row of Rock Concert

"Let's just call us The Band You're About To Hear." 
Lenny ~ That Thing You Do

Thanks, Sue! For your sweet company and the concert Under the Sea!

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