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what happens when the cable just stops

The tv goes off, and everything else turns on. Amazing.

So I leave work in the afternoon to drive to Boston. It's a Wednesday afternoon and I'm going to see The Frames. Black hoodie, combat boots, extra eye makeup, off to the races.

I've been addicted to The Decemberists, which is helping to hold the 24 hour rule in place. (For those of you that aren't in the know, that's the 'no playing the band you're going to see in the 24 hours on either side of the show' rule.) But I just can't help myself, especially after having not had a proper listen of Burn The Maps. I turn it up and drive, drive, drive...

It's cold and I'm anxious. I spoke with Shea earlier, and due to class and what have you he won't be arriving until about 8:45. I'll just have to stalk out my spot stage right and make some friends. But as it turns out, his gas situation leaves him with just show or just school - so naturally, the show wins. I am so excited that I call him three times in the twenty minutes it takes him to get there. Are you close? How about now? How about now? Not unlike waiting for some random email from a boy or a rock star, refresh... refresh... refresh...

The club is starting to fill up, but we secure our spots by sitting on the stage. I am full of questions, and as it turns out Shea is even better solo than I expected. We have Kristin in common, but I still get nervous about smalltalk and the like, you know? He's not just a writer, but about to be published. (And I might add, a surprise appearance by yours truly in one of his poems, about my short-lived contact with The Boy. Better than a song almost!) He's not just taking pictures, but a real photographer. Not just working with multiple mediums, but a full blown fine artist. We share joys and memories and excitement for our Memorial Day plans in Seattle. (Watch out, Sasquatch! Here we come!)

Out walks our opener - or is it some guy with the opener? Or is it one of the Frames? He picks up a few things and checks some other things out and leaves. Then he comes back and - yes, he's going to play. He's our opener.

He sings, he strums, we pay closer attention. One line in particular stands out:

see, I played in this band
and I thought about 'cha

Complete with accent. So tremendous. I am instantly smitten, and promptly write it down as not to forget such a perfect moment.

He signals his words and spreads his hands, he stomps his foot to keep the beat and sometimes he stops playing completely and just stomps and sings. You can tell he's really proud of the lines.

He jokes with us and records our fever-pitch cheers, and gets punchy with a guy in the back yelling something. Pressing 'play' on the little device, up at the microphone. What? Sorry, what? I can't hear ya. He has small feet and his hair sticks up in the back and he's charmed me completely. I turn to Shea and we wonder if openers can come back out for an encore, and I realize I've never thought that before. Not like this.

We take breaks in shifts and hold fast to our spots, as the sold out show around us starts filling in. I'm wide-eyed. I'm at a Frames show. Mark Geary is amazing. Holy crap. And they arrive...

Our lead singer looks a little... annoyed? Grumpy? They pick up their shit and start off with one of the new ones. The bass player is directly in front of us and he's - well, he's a Frame! They are right in front of us, and they are brilliant! At one point in the second song, the band makes their first appearance to us:


All of a sudden I am at band practice, and my mouth is slack, and no one else is there. The music flows through me, jesus it's like a part of my physical being, you know? The band is really loud and really tight and dead on with every note and every moment and I grab onto Shea's arm in disbelief. As the song ends, the trance does not. There's no "woo-hoo!" or whistles from me - I lean forward and scream "ALRIGHT!" with everything I have in me. All this being (typed) said, there is a part of me that still cannot comprehend that I am watching The Frames at The Paradise from the Front Row.

So the lead singer, Glen is it? Glen is still annoyed at the louder back row of the crowd. They are obviously giving us every ounce of themselves, and he's pretty bent about the talking. He tells us so, and the room hushes up for the most part. It remains (mostly) so for the rest of the night. I've begun research on tshirts for shows that say shut the fuck up and listen to the band or something.

The set is - shit, brilliant. I can't think of a better word. Was that five hours or five minutes? I can't tell... they give us new songs, familiar songs, and every shred of everything with every note it seems. There are moments of singing along, of looking at Shea in disbelief, and full one-minute long eye contact with various band members. I can't look away, the trance is intense, I almost forgot to take pictures... it seems I can barely capture any shred of anything - although the feet shots came out great:

Perfect, completely. Just perfect.

They play everything on my fantasy set, which is short. I've left a note scrawled on the stage, furiously ripped from my notebook before the show, that reads:

PLEASE PLAY

1. YOUR FACE
2. STAR, STAR
3. FAKE
4. PAVEMENT TUNE

THANK YOU, WE LOVE YOU!

And the last encore pulls us in, real time combined with Kristin's stories of finger snapping, and we all had no idea that we were really vampires. Oddly punctuated with a ribbing they've perfected:

Glen: America!
Whole band: FUCK YEAH!

Now they're brilliant and hysterical, and so they leave us. Shea takes off to the bathroom, and I sit on the stage to wait. I'm reeling, The Paradise really is just that. I've screamed and danced and I've not given a shit who was looking, or what I looked like, or any of it. Pure feeling, pure bliss, with the volume as loud as it would go.

We linger, we chat, we eat free pizza. I wouldn't mind another appearance from the bass player, and Shea had his eye on the drummer, who does come out but talks to most-annoying-girl-at-show chick for a bit instead of us. Her boyfriend slapped her ass to the music all night, and I was ready to punch them both. I mean, if you get to talk to rock stars, please try to say something intelligent. Otherwise, get the fuck out of the front row, will ya?

Shea sees a friend, our night starts to wrap up and I don't want it to be over. Not yet. I walk back around the empty room, there's the girl that sang the last song on stage, drinking and grinning. There's the ass slapper, should I try to wander up top? I do, and get stopped, but pass through with promises of a bathroom run and then I'm leaving, I swear it. I take my time, half expecting a Frame to find me, profess his love and ask me to come to Canada. I'd sell tshirts or photos or write the setlists or something. It would be grand.

Obviously, said fantasy moment does not occur and I smile past everyone on my way back to Shea. He calls, apparently next to some of the band out at the merch table, and I've missed The Boy by less than sixty seconds. What a relief! If I didn't linger, if I didn't wait, if I stayed with Shea... another moment of things going exactly as they're supposed to. We find each other and decide to stalk the bass player, who is smoking outside. Not only does Shea manage a cigarette, but a light as well, and I can't even speak. I kick the imaginary spot in the sidewalk, wide eyed and grinning. We grab a few shots of the sign being dismantled - and I suddenly remember that I wanted a cd of the opener. We plead re-entry from the guy at the door and make our way back to the merch table.

What happens next leaves me... well, just keep reading.

I look at the cds for our delirously adorable opener, and I see that there's two. And I'm down to twenty bucks, and they're fifteen each. Without saying a word to her, the chick at the merch table goes, "Yeah, there's two. And he played songs off of both of them tonight." I hold out my hand.

"What song is this?" She looks at my hand quizically.

"I don't know, but you can ask him. He's right there." I turn around and there stands Mark Geary, disheveled and chatting. I always hate this moment - is this guy going to talk to me just to be nice, don't say anything stupid, shit, are my armpits sweating? I boldly hold out my hand.

"What song is this?" He takes my hand in both of his and starts half-singing, half gazing, searching the wall behind me for the words, tapping his foot lightly. I look at Shea, about to piss my pants. I am having full-blown interaction and I am utterly startstruck. He figures out that it's Ghosts and shows me the cd, as I am holding both in my other hand. I want both.

"You should get both," he says, reading my spinning mind.

"Well, I can only get one," I say, and he tells me to hang on and goes to negotiate with the merch chick. Now I feel bad. I mean, I'm not starving. I could use my debit card or something, you know? He comes back and slides a cd into the front of my jacket. We're on a secret mission.

"Now go and get the other one from her and I'll sign it fer ya." I follow directions, but I leave the girl with my whole twenty. She's obviously watched the whole thing from her post. I come back and tear open the cd and hand it to him.

"What's your name?"

"Victoria." And I'm back in the middle of, fuck, you have like, eighteen seconds to interact. Say something, and make it good. I start throwing everything I wanted to say during the show onto the floor in front of us. To the tune of the following:

"You're really great. That was awesome. I love you. Really, you're beautiful. I'd come to Canada, or wherever you're going right now, but I'm driving to Florida tomorrow after work but otherwise I'd like, not go to work at all so I could be wherever you are." I can't remember exactly what he said as I emoted all over him, he was writing something in my cd and now we're both laughing and I want to talk to him for hours.

"Are you staying in Florida, then?"

"No, my friend is moving." You're talking to him. Holy shit. "We're driving her car down there and I'm flying back in a few days."

"Driving? When?"

"Tomorrow. After work."

"Seriously?"

"Yes."

"Do you know where the Iron Horse is then?"

"Are you kidding? I just saw Colin Meloy there last week. It was amazing. I'm going to see Robyn Hitchcock on the 28th, do you want to come?"

"Yes. Shit. I'll be in Australia. Do you want to come?"

"Sure. I have relatives there. Are you really playing at the Iron Horse?"

"I'll be there on the 22nd." (editor's note: it's the 20th, actually)

"I'll buy a ticket tonight when I get home (which I did, at 3 am). Have you ever played there before?"

"No." I explain where he'll play from and where I like to shoot from, behind the railing, level with the stage. It's a great spot for photos.

"Okay, now, I'm really going to come."

"Don't worry, I'll remember you." I make him pinky swear to this, and in both of our non-inebriated states we realize we already know each other quite well. To the tune of hugs and laughter and nostalgic stories. I realize I'm going to lose it, because I'm starting to think about what I'm saying, and I'd better go out on a high note.

"Gosh, you probably have so much to do, I caught you on the way to the bathroom or somehting, okay I have to go." I gather Shea, who has been watching this whole thing unfold with a huge grin.

"Okay, don't change! No, shit! Change everything!"

"I will, a hundred times!"

I run down the hall and burst out the front doors with a cheer. I'm ready to leap out of my skin. Did that just happen? Are you kidding me? ARE YOU KIDDING ME? Did I just have that conversation, was it all just a dream? Shea and I talk and skip and dance our way to the car, and after the quick stop at the BP, we leave with smiling goodbyes and promises for Ray Lamontagne in April.

I'm on my way home. High with show and Mark Geary loud in my speakers. What more could a girl ask for?

Oh, the cd. Right. I don't care if he writes it to all the girls, because in that moment, he wrote it just for me:

To my Victoria, you're beautiful too.

~~~~~~~~~

So back to real time, Friday morning, typing this because it's so much more important than work, you see why a ninety minute drive for an opening spot on somebody else's bill is more than enough for me. I'll gladly stand waiting, camera in hand, maybe with a mix tape or some Ray Lamontange to pass along. As I sit in my car in my mind, top down, gazing at the stars, wishing I could ask him to learn This Is Dedicated To The One I Love like Jon plays Annie's Song. He'd whisper it so perfectly.

This man is brilliant, so I'll take what I can get. See you at the Iron Horse.

Victoria Uhl