Sunday, November 18, 2012

Sweaty carnations

Thursday morning, I woke up and did not go on my computer. I’ve been making a bad habit of wasting time on the computer in the morning lately, instead of focusing on getting ready for work or making a good breakfast for myself. So, finally, I had a morning where the computer stayed off, and I remembered to check for important emails on my smartphone instead. Lo and behold, I had an email with the subject of,

You won a ticket to see Amanda Palmer at Paradise Rock Club on November 15th

What. What? Wait, really? Did I seriously just win something with one of those Rafflecopter widgets? I enter those things all the time and I have yet to win a single damn kitchen utensil, but I apparently had just won a concert ticket. Wow.

I purposely didn’t think about it too much during the day. Getting to the venue is kind of a trek for me on the T. I’m pretty used to 15-30 min trips and generally don’t go further than that, but it takes an hour to get out there in traffic. At least the T is pretty simple; I only had to switch trains once. My biggest fear about the whole thing was going alone. Not for safety concerns or anything like that, but just because I didn’t know what I’d do with myself.

The answer was to have fun, of course.

I was given a VIP sticker with the date when I picked up my ticket at the box office window. I don’t know if it would have gotten me anything cool (a chance to meet the band), but I didn’t put it on till after the show was over and I approached the merch table for a t-shirt. It took me some time to really open up when Amanda Palmer came out with the Grand Theft Orchestra for the main set. I sang to songs I knew (most of the ones from the new album, because, fortunately, the lyrics are pretty easy for me to understand without Googling them), danced to ones I really liked, and made a point of standing in the crowd. At one point, I realized I was about 20’ away from a person whose pictures I’ve seen, words I’ve read, and music I’ve admired for years. It’s been way too long since I’ve felt awed like that.

In college, I followed around The World/Inferno Friendship Society a lot. I went to at least 12 of their shows over the course of a couple of years. I’m not sure when I stopped going or why exactly. Their newer music doesn’t really appeal to me, but I stopped going before that came out. When I was going to those shows, I felt like I was part of a community. I posted regularly on the band’s forum and built up a bit of a tough skin against jerks on the internet (there were plenty on that forum). I got to know people a little, at shows and online. Being in the pit for those shows, you expected to get hurt and I always cherished my bruises for the days that they lasted. There was something humbling and unifying about being sweaty, loud, and open among all those other people, doing the same thing. And then you’d go to shows where there weren’t as many fans, and you’d make your own spirit.

At the Paradise last Thursday, I felt like I had a little taste of that again. Amanda Palmer’s fan base is notoriously kind and welcoming, from what I’ve read. I did not have the guts to speak to anyone or try to strike up conversation (how do you do that, anyway, when you can’t really hear anything?), but at some point during the show, I looked around at the crowd. I saw tons of other people, all kinds of people, looking like they were having a blast. Singing along. Dancing well. Dancing badly. Jumping. Laughing. Smiling. So I gave up and I did too. I’ve really missed that feeling. I don’t really know if I can explain this feeling to other people that well, or if all this writing makes much sense to anyone, but I really hope other people can experience it like I have.

Afterwards, I was slightly deafened, hoarse, and the adrenaline suddenly left me. I felt sick. The train ride back was chilly and uneventful. I checked for more tour dates and it looks like Amanda Palmer & the Grand Theft Orchestra will be engaged in Europe for several months after this tour is over. I am hoping I can squeeze other concerts by other bands that I like into my budget. It’s nice to know now that I can survive and even enjoy a night out someplace new on my own, but dragging along the boyfriend to see a band that we both enjoy is always fun, too.

And thank you, Amanda, for making me feel just a little freer for one evening. It was really lovely.

I forgot to include: the carnation shown was tossed out into the crowd when the band came out on stage. I didn’t catch one, but I smelled them randomly during the show, in the midst of booze, sweat, and BO. It was a strange mixture, but it felt fitting somehow. I found one abandoned by the T stop outside afterwards and it’s hanging out in a shot glass on my counter.

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