Tuesday, January 6, 2015

It's Never Been More Perfect Being Alive

Mae, "The Everglow" Tour, Jan. 2015
It was all so much more disorganized than we expected. "Arrive early for your VIP meet & greet," the pre-show email instructed, so we did, but we waited in line outside for more than half an hour; at one point, another line started, though no one standing in it seemed to know exactly what it was for. Finally, we were allowed into the venue (the creatively named NorVa in Norfolk, VA), where the lead singer of the band was checking people in, just chatting with fans as he tried to figure out who was supposed to get a T-shirt with entry.

We waited in line inside, too, until someone announced that the line was moving upstairs. So we waited in another line, until a guy made a megaphone out of his hands & asked us to move to the third floor. The line broke in the middle to form a new one, which is how my friends & I found ourselves at the front of another line, filing single-file into a dark room: a private acoustic show.

But we hadn't paid for it. When we bought our tickets all the way back in August, we hadn't opted for the acoustic show package, which cost $20 extra. None of us - a student, two teachers, a professor, a non-profit staffer - had extra cash to spare, so we chose the merch package instead, guaranteeing ourselves a meet-&-greet with the band, plus T-shirts & poster for all. And yet there we were, five months later, at the front of the room for an intimate acoustic show.

Anxiety-ridden as ever, I was sure we'd be caught & asked to leave, slapped on the wrist for trying to sneak into a show we weren't supposed to be at. But when the lead singer took the mic, he began, "I bet you're wondering why you're here at this acoustic show you haven't paid for..."

It was a gift from the band, it turned out, an apology for being, well, so disorganized. In a darkened room, mason jars full of LED twinkle lights dotting the perimeter, the members of Mae began a private show packed to the brim with eager fans. I sat in a leather chair, my friends on the floor - VIP status indeed - & when the notes of that first song filled the room, my mouth fell open. I couldn't see myself, of course, but I'm sure I looked like a little kid on Christmas.

I'm not a person to use words like "blessed." I don't quite believe in God, for starters, & that word is so loaded with religiosity that, when used in casual, everyday life, it makes me skin crawl a little bit. But sitting there in the dark, nine hours from home, surrounded by friends who feel more like family, sitting just feet away from a band whose lyrics wrote pieces of my past, I couldn't think of any better word. Words like "lucky" & "fortunate" just didn't seem to cover it. I cried a little, there in the dark where no one could see, & I mouthed the words "Thank you," though I'm not sure to whom. To the universe, I guess.

And when it was over, we still had a real, non-VIP, general admission show to attend, too, the 10-year anniversary concert of Mae's 2005 album "The Everglow." Two shows in one night, each one special & different & the best possible way to begin a new year? I think I like your style, 2015.

All smiles in Richmond, VA, where we stopped on our way to Norfolk

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