Tag Archives: in the moment

The Mercy of a Good Opening Band

Another concert, this time with my youngest daughter. My youngest wore a giant pink squid hat with tentacles and attracted some attention. I’m cultivating another concert buddy.

PASSENGER 006 dd with dh (She is a teenager and not 6 as this pic might suggest.)

We were at  the Electric Factory seeing someone who Maddy and her dear friend Hannah listen to.  We were assured that we would not like him. Even Maddy and Hannah didn’t seem to like him too much. So my husband and I knew that we would most likely not enjoy this inexplicably popular one hit performer who shall remain nameless because we definitely did not enjoy him.

But God who delights to show mercy to His beloved showered His mercy upon us and gave us a great opening band.

They are The Once. When Geraldine Hollett began singing, I knew the evening was saved. And when Phil Churchill and Andrew Dale struck in with their gorgeous harmony I was sold. Nothing compares to the stripped-down live sound of an ensemble’s essentials. Voices in harmony, a guitar, a mandolin/lute/banjo, and Geraldine’s hand drum (thing) were plenty impressive. Songs were lovely and evocative. I bought the CD at the merch table.


Even Maddy and Hannah commented that The Once was better than the headliner was going to be.

Set list was: The Town Where You Lived, We Are All Running, All the Hours, and Elvis’ Can’t Help Falling in Love with You (first time I’ve enjoyed that one), By the Glow of the Kerosene Light (tears), and two or three other songs I don’t know yet by title. But I loved every one. I will be getting CD #1, and the Christmas album will be added to our holiday repertoire.


I have endured countless forgettable opening bands, but this not my first pleasant surprise. A really good opening band is like a rare and unexpected gift. In February of 2013, we discovered The Lone Bellow as an opener at a TWLOHA concert; we went because Fiction Family was headlining. We were astonished, and we’ve seen them twice since. I’ll be looking for The Once to appear in our area now too.

We had a blast.

My Concert Shoes

These are my concert shoes. I have worn them to every live show since October 1, 2010.  Which is a good few.


I found them in a bag of clothes given to us by a friend.  Knock-off chucks.They hadn’t been worn yet (the soles were clean) and they fit just right. I’ve received a lot of compliments on them over the years, and from some pretty cool people. I put them on to see the B-52s at the Electric Factory. That was October 1, 2010. I wore them two days later at the same venue to see Switchfoot for the first time.

I don’t have the chucks, which we called high tops then, that I wore to see the B-52s for the first time. But I might have been wearing retro 60’s clothes with heels. That was probably 1981.

I wore them last Friday night (May 2) to see Nickel Creek. Lucy and I are fans of this incredible band which was “on hiatus” for 6 1/2 years. Nickel Creek was no more and each of the members, Sean Watkins, Sara Watkins and Chris Thile, each branched off into multiple solo projects. Multiple projects! They are at the top of the list in their genre, and each one has mastered other genres as well, until genre distinctions become useless. Chris Thile helps you to appreciate how classical mandolin overlaps with bluegrass, how short is the journey from one genre to another, and that music is music is music is joy.


When the tour is over, there may never be a chance to see them together again.

So it was an important show to see. They were amazing.  You truly have to see them live to understand how good they are. These guys have been playing together since they were little kids and their virtuosity shows. And they are funny, witty, and charming, as performers tend to be when they are having a lot of fun.  Sara was particularly impressive.  I was not ready for how powerful and perfect her voice is. Sean’s guitar is clearly the backbone of the trio. Ever the quiet one onstage, it was he who came out after the show to shake hands and thank waiting fans. This is Lucy:


I was fighting a familiar train of thought during the Nickel Creek show.  It springs to mind at all good concerts and it goes like this: This is so wonderful I don’t want to forget it.  This music happening right now, this second, is passing. That part is over, it’s gone. Pay attention!  You want to remember this!  No, pay attention to what’s happening now!  Stop thinking this and pay attention! Stop thinking that too and pay attention!

It’s the old In the Moment  dilemma. I’m always thinking about how to hold onto the rare and amazing experience I’m enjoying, and that conflicts with my ability to enjoy it right now. I can’t help thinking that thinking about how special it is diminishes the power of the experience.


This Friday, I will wear my shoes to see The Aquabats at the TLA. It will be my husband, Lucy, Josh, Maddy and our friend Brandon. It will just be a lot of fun. And this will be a standing room show–yay!  All musical events less formal than classical concerts ought to be standing room! Someone should do something about this.

This summer I’ll wear my shoes to see NIN with my daughter Eva. That may raise a question or two from anyone who is tracking with the general theme of my blog; am I “proving all things”? Trent Reznor promotes a very different personal worldview than I do, and there are” language” differences as well. There are two reasons why I will go. First: as a musician, he has real integrity, which is rare these days. The music is honest, emotionally and artistically. Layers and layers of dense industrial sound, yet very melodic and relatable. Second: I would not miss an opportunity to experience this with my daughter.  Music is very important to Eva, to Lucy, and to me.  We spend a lot of time talking about music. It’s something we share and understand together. There’s no question that I will go.

Because cultivating the relationships I have been given is what I am still here for. Sharing experiences with each of my kids is the best thing I can do with my time, and I wouldn’t miss it. They are absolutely my favorite people on Earth.

Lucy gave me the ticket to see Nickel Creek for Mother’s Day. We’ve experienced a lot of concerts together…Switchfoot several times, Needtobreathe, John Mark McMillan, Family Force 5. And Fiction Family, where we met Sean Watkins before.

Eva is buying my ticket to NIN.  And Harry, Eva and I have our tickets to see Bryan Ferry in October! We have been successful: Eva knows that Bryan is The Man.  I am so proud.


My shoes will accompany me to more concerts til they fall apart, and it looks like that won’t be long.

In the Moment

Being “in the moment” is not easy.

Tonight I will miss seeing Switchfoot live for the first time since October 2010.  I need a concert fund.

Some form of Jon Foreman ( SF, Fiction Family with Sean Watkins at TWLOHA, other…) comes to Philadelphia at least once a year, and my daughter and I have seen him every time (except that free summer outdoor appearance when we both had coksackie).  We are both so so disappointed.  Seeing Switchfoot is just So. Much. Fun.

They are a superlative live band, owing to almost constant touring.  They just play so well.   And at some point during the night, Jon Foreman will make his way through the crowd– he obviously loves to do this.   If climbing is involved, all the better.   If you’re disappointed that you got stuck up in the balcony, be assured that Mr. Foreman will be passing your way during the evening.

I was born shy, introverted and self-conscious.  I struggled through every day of public school; I felt like my life depended on not being noticed.  But now, as  a middle aged, homeschooling, evangelical Christian mom, I have thrown off self-consciousness.

There are few things I enjoy more than being immersed in a tight crowd of strangers,  up against the stage for a live performance seeing a really good band

A few years ago,  I finally realized that at a rock show, no one is looking at me, no one can hear me no matter how loud I sing with the band, and I should just enjoy it.   I can forget myself, and just have fun.

I like to politely but firmly worm my way to the front, as close to the stage as possible.  There I must stand , holding my place, for the rest of the night.   So I might be standing there for 4  hours, because it may be two hours before the band I came to see appears.   At a general admission show, moving means losing your spot.

At a good live show, the real, actual, authentic music, played by the real authors of that music,  is happening right in front of me.  I’m IN the experience along with the band and the people around me.   If you are close to the stage, the band members can see you. Maybe they talk to you from onstage.  They play for the bunch of you, for tonight a circle of close friends singing the same language.  You, the band, and the other crowd members around you are all having an absolute blast together.

It’s a rare chance to be in the moment.  It’s hard to be in the moment as an adult, isn’t it?    Children are able to be fully present in the now.  We lose that ability as we mature.  It’s one thing I wish I hadn’t lost.  My mind is always preoccupied with ten things other than  what I’m doing now.

Concert-going  takes a lot of energy.   For me, it’s an expenditure way outside my energy envelope.  But all that effort focuses my mind and helps put me into the immediacy of the experience.  Then there is the enormous level of sound.  It all helps to blast me into the right now.  To experience this fun thing right now to the utmost.

Here’s a disclaimer.  I owe my Switchfoot fandom to my daughter Lucy, who is the real and foremost Switchfoot fan.  And the real Jon Foreman fan. Without her discerning ears I would never have discovered them!

And by the way, Lucy is by far my favorite live performer, and my most-often concert partner.

But I do seem to love a live show more than my kids. At times, most of them would rather hang in the back. As an art school kid I saw bands like Adam Ant, the Pretenders, the B-52s, Iggy Pop, Talking Heads, Robert Fripp, Bowie and Roxy Music; and clubbing, saw locals like The Speedies, The Tights, Eugene Chadbourne (and his rake), Pearl Harbor and the Explosions, Bunnydrums,  and many I’ve forgotten. Those were the days when real punk was just done, and was morphing into new wave. Those were my old days.

I didn’t have nearly so much fun in those old days.  I enjoyed it a lot, but I squandered chances to get up close, dance, jump up and down and yell.

In the last few years, I’ve seen Switchfoot (4x), Fiction Family, the B-52s, Kevin Max, Danzig, Needtobreathe, Relient K, Family Force 5 (2x), Muse, John Mark McMillan, and we’re about to see The Lone Bellow for the third time. (My ticket is a birthday gift.)

Some notable items from my recent resume:
With my daughter Eva  I saw Danzig with a migraine.   I hope to see more with Eva, without migraine.
I danced with Kevin Max.  Story:  Very small space, very small audience, and he couldn’t help seeing me.  I had a migraine and I yawned, even though I was having the time of my life.  In the middle of the song, he says,” Don’t go to sleep baby!”,  jumps down to the floor and starts dancing with me while he’s singing Stranded 72.5.  So much fun.

Most of the people we’ve seen, except for the mega- successful, have been kind enough to come out after the show to talk to us.  We’ve enjoyed meeting The Lone Bellow members: Kanene Pipkin, Zach Williams and Brian Elmquist, Soul Glow Activatur and Chapstique of Family Force 5, Jon Foreman, Tim Foreman, Drew Shirley of Switchfoot, Kevin Max (who thanked us personally about 5 times at that tiny venue), Sean Watkins of Fiction Family and Nickel Creek. Without exception, all were very kind. They’re just very talented regular people, after all.

I’m thankful I have had a chance to learn to relax –in public!  Now I’ll be looking for other ways to forget myself and enjoy.

Next:  my daughter Eva is taking me to see NIN this summer!

UPDATE:  I guess we’re eclectic.  My daughter Lucy has just gifted me with tickets to see Nickel Creek next Friday!  We two will be in the orchestra section of the Tower Theater.   This is, of course, a really special event because they broke up in 2009 and are doing a limited tour, probably never to be a unit again.  It’s a chance to see three artists who’ve gone on to great solo things…together.

Then, on May 9, a bunch of us will see The Aquabats, which is predicted to be super fun!

And there’s still Nine Inch Nails to see with Eva, who is also making me a gift of the tix.

I have great kids!