My day began early last Monday. I hit the streets of Chicago around 6:30am, breakfasted, parked, and ended up outside the Park West at about 8:15am. I was first in line for the Colin Meloy show that night at 7:30pm. I was alone for about four hours, trying to keep warm as the sun slipped behind a tall apartment building across the street. Eventually, the sun came back and it was a nice day. And eventually (around 2pm), the tour bus carrying Colin, his fiancee Carson Ellis, their son Hank, and the opener Laura Gibson pulled up. I had come bearing gifts and waited by the tour bus to bestow them. Colin came out and I gave him a DVD of 2 concerts from 1982 and 1981: Fleetwood Mac and Stevie Nicks, respectively. I gave him The Berenstain Bears and the Messy Room (one of my favorites) for Hank. And I gave him a Carson Ellis-themed crossword puzzle I had made for Carson. I was also carrying my copy of The Mysterious Benedict Society for Carson to sign (I have Colin's autograph in my copy of God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater). He thanked me and went on the bus to give the crossword and get the autograph and then went inside.
Now, the last time I saw the Decemberists was one of the best nights of my life, so I had pretty high expectations for Monday. It didn't seem to me as though Colin remembered me, and so I was a little disappointed. Later in the day, while I was waiting, I had a couple of other encounters. I met Carson, and she thanked me for the puzzle and told me that she's a crossword fanatic. Then, I saw Carson come by with a nanny and little Hank (who is really, really adorable), I saw Hank come back later in the day and he was crying a bit (which was also adorable), and I saw Carson walk by a couple more times. On one of these occasions, I was reading the book I had brought for all of the waiting: Shirley Jackson's We Have Always Live in the Castle. Carson saw the cover and told me that Colin was reading the same book!
The main event: Laura Gibson opened and was very good, though I think I might've enjoyed the show a bit more if we had been sitting in a cafe rather than standing in the Park West. From what I'd read about her openings for other stops on the tour, I was expecting her to be very quiet and a bit awkward, but she made pretty wonderful onstage "banter." Then, it was on to Colin Meloy. My goal, for a while now, has been to get Colin to like me. I just want to be friends, perhaps correspond regularly, be one of his favorite people...that's all. So, I do my best to come off as smart, interesting, charming, etc. in any encounter with the man. Perhaps I come off as trying too hard, though. I got the impression that Colin found me a bit irritating more than anything else (I should note that I have a tendency to get this impression from a number of people fairly often, so maybe it's just me). It seemed different that night than it has been when I've been in front at Decemberists' shows. This was my second time seeing a Colin solo show, but my first time being right in front. Anyway, the "highlight" of the night happened during "A Cautionary Song." I knew, from watching youtube, that he's been encouraging audience interaction on this tour and that when the line comes up "the sailor's sorry racket calls for maidenhead," he's expected the audience to call for maidenhead. So I did. I yelled out "pussy!" This surprised Colin quite a bit and it took him a minute to laugh and announce that it had made him blush before he could continue with the song. I felt a bit bad since I remembered right after I yelled out that it was an all ages show.
After the show, we stayed around the bus to see Colin and I apologized for making him blush. He told me it was alright and thanked me for yelling out, but then it was a bit awkward as I continued standing there rather than thanking him and leaving. He gave a salute, and I saluted back and then continued to stand there awkwardly. Finally, I did turn around and leave and felt a bit of a fool for not being more smooth. Then, I drove to Joliet and started a saga that shall have to be continued in another post. All in all, it was fantastic, but now I'm trying to get over a bit of an inferiority complex. C'est la vie.
A bit of really good news: when I finally got back to Michigan, I commented on both Colin and Carson's myspace pages, offering my hope that they enjoyed their respective gifts. Later that day, Carson commented on my myspace page saying that she very much enjoyed her crossword puzzle!!!! Hooray!!
Chris and I saw Feist at the Fillmore in Detroit on April 10th. I have never been to Detroit, but I thought I knew what to expect since the city is pretty notorious. We arrived at the venue around 2pm and were the only ones there. It was barely drizzling, but it was very windy, which made it a cold, unwelcome day. A little over an hour after we got there, Feist and one of her bandmates rolls up in a taxi. We learned later that they had been at the Motown Museum (somewhere I'd like to go before we move out of this awful state). I had brought along "Ricky Gervais presents The World of Karl Pilkington" (a collection of transcripts from Ricky Gervais' podcasts) for her to sign and she happily obliged. Apparently, she and her bandmate had just been talking about Ricky Gervais and quoting The Office, so she wrote: "'I froze your tears and made a dagger...must you breath, for I need heaven' Feist, quoting David Brent with admiration" and then signed Feist. She was very lovely, but a rather short woman, which I was not expecting at all. She's about 5'2" and I spent the rest of the afternoon marveling at this fact. I had always assumed she would be around my height or taller from videos and such, and she's not that short, and it doesn't make any difference, it's just that I had to change the picture in my head which can sometimes feel odd.
Anyway, the show was great, despite some annoyances. Apparently Detroit crowds get rowdy, so the Fillmore had security guards (read fat guys in a Fillmore t-shirt) stand between the barricade and the stage. This is fine except that one of them stood near the center of the stage, and the stage isn't really high. This is kind of fine except that this particular security guy was hugely ignorant, a douchebag, and a chatty Cathy. He started conversations with us and people around us (including people in the second row) and talked during the opening act and while Feist was onstage. Sample gem: "That guy looked retarded. He sucked. I'm sorry, but it's the truth." I didn't realize that a large man from Detroit who likes hardcore rock (he informed us of this several times) was able to judge and provide such truths. The crowd that night was not terrible, but don't let that fool you: they were bad. At one point, Feist started a song and then instead of singing the lyrics, she sang about how if a performer sings very softly the crowd automatically shuts up since it doesn't know what's going on. She even stepped away from the mic and sang for a while until the crowd finally stopped buzzing. Most impressive, though, was her voice. I knew she could sing, but man, she can sing!
Chris and I also saw Ben Folds at a small college in Michigan this past week. I would write about how the show was good and the audience was perhaps the worst I've ever seen at a show and how Chris and I are ready to never see a show in Michigan again (but then admitted that of course we would go if it was a really good act), but then I would get angry and disappointed in humanity (once again).
To end on a good note, I will mention that I'm getting all geared up for what I hope to be the best night since October 29 of last year. Chris and I will drive to Chicago tomorrow, he'll get on a bus to go to St. Louis and I will hang out with John. Monday, I will be outside of the Park West all day and see Colin Meloy perform in the evening!!!!!!!!! I will then be around Tuesday night and Wednesday in the early afternoon, hopefully seeing friends. So friends, clear your schedules.