Iâ€™m standing in a dark Cambridge club, watching set lists being put out; last minute arrangements before the show. The mechanics, the logistics, the arranging and planning that goes into a 90 minute performance of music.
We put down our money and place our bets, hoping to reach that transcendent moment, when boundaries of stage and audience dissolve, time stops, and youâ€™re no longer thinking about catching that last train out of Central Square, or how late youâ€™ll get back up to the North Shore. You set out to support a band, wanting to hear new songs, or old favorites – but at the back of your mind, or in your subconscious mind, youâ€™re yearning for that moment – a melding of minds, a merging of souls, through the power of music.
Cross-country touring in a dilapidated vanâ€¦ scraping together enough money for food and gas along the way through merchandise sales. Sleeping on friendsâ€™ and strangersâ€™ floorsâ€¦ struggling with shifting weather patterns and improper footwear for Northeast wintersâ€¦ unfamiliar foods, unfamiliar places, and the absence of loved onesâ€¦ unpredictable traffic and other unknown elements. Closing eyes in one state and waking up in anotherâ€¦ the endless delights of air travel, living in airport terminals, lost luggage, beloved instruments and essential gear tossed around like sacks of potatoes by clueless transport workersâ€¦ International travel and disturbed sleep patternsâ€¦ club load-ins, soundchecks, radio promotion, and important people to schmooze.
Procurement of tickets, ticket fees, presales, scalpers and other unsavory typesâ€¦ standing around for hours in skanky clubs waiting for the music to begin. Will it be ear-shattering loud? Sonic booms from an echoing dark stairwell? The band comes on, as uncertain as you are. Tentative start; theyâ€™re working hard to gauge the mood of the room, find common ground with a few hundred strangers in a heartbeat. Musicians and audience both working at engagement. As you listen, your ears pick out something warm and familiar, something new and interesting – an inspired guitar lick, an insightful lyric that leaps out. Block out the chatty cocktail party in the back and their endless inane conversations. For them, this may as well be a poorly-tuned-in radio station in the other room. Not for you. On a good night, on a really good night, expectations slowly dissolve. The audience vibe imperceptibly shifts from a â€˜show us what youâ€™ve gotâ€™ stance with folded arms, to slow bobbing and swaying, to dancing, to bliss. Connection. When a band does this with a dedicated fan following within seconds of hitting the stage, there is no greater magic.share this: