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so we get back in the car...

... and off we head for the big ciy. holy shit. we've made it happen. our will has prevailed! and since sarah is driving, there's no train fees or anything. show + parking + pizza after = less than $40. manageable. especially with sarah's initial plan to buy scalped tickets, which would have been $50 just to start.

we keep the live show she's yet to hear on pause, as I wrap up my coordinating calls and to-do list calls and michael, shea, kristin, mom, check check and check. ok, done. turn it on.

ray croons and sarah drives with a hand over her mouth. I tell her about how I cried when I heard it for the first time and how kristin sent it with random things and sparkles and love. we realize as we get closer that our directions are from 95 but we're on 15 - a few quick calls gets us on the right track. whitestone to triborough to fdr to 23rd to 11th. got it.

I must say, between the two of us, we are quite the resourceful gals!

the street numbers get lower and we get more excited - I opt for no camera, to be truly present, and we change our shirts and throw on some eyeshadow in the car, and we're off. sarah runs back to the car, as she has forgotten her love letter for ray, and I start chatting with the australian girl behind me. she's pumped about the opener, I'm pumped about ray, and we trade stories... sarah's back and the doors are open. we tumble down the stairs to will call, and into the depths of webster hall.

black floor, black bar, well-placed mirrors and spinning red lights. we're instantly in another world, and we change as well - we're here, ray's here, it's all happening, we're alright... the panic tense back anxiety ridden drive is over. we run up marble stairs past painted walls and glowing corners, and explode into the main room. it's just like the downstairs, only with impossibly high ceilings and more colors in the lights. like avalon screams "give me four hits of E, quick", this place screamed artists, and maybe some really good pot. but more so it wanted you to sit down and pay attention to the paintings on one particular part of the wall, or a big guilded mirror, or the sparkling orange gauze covering windows in a room that's inside this room and are too high to see in anyway.

front row. coats on the barrier. slightly stage right. we exhale, we seek beverage. when you're sitting on the toilet, you're bathed in a hot pink spotlight that's picking up the chunks of mirror embedded in the floor. you're cool, just for knowing to come here. you're an artist. and you're in a venue that completely respects the artist you are about to see.

the attendees followed suit - when our opener missy higgins came on, the hush was so that you could hear the hum of the refridgerators and the clink of bottles being tossed behind the bar. she sang of familiar situations, getting her bed (and head) back after a relationship ended, and how she'd leave you - but wouldn't run too far, because as we all knew, we're coming right back anyways and who did we think we were fooling? ourselves? all painted in purple swirling cascades of light with an australian accent. a pixie with her heart on fire, making the opening slot withstandable.

and then, ray... ray was ray. in trying to describe him after we'd met, I struggled. nothing seemed to do him justice, words like gentle and strong and soulful and alive and powerful and brilliant all lacking somehow. the tone of tonight's show was a little different, the energy was different, as though he had just broken up or gotten some disquieting news - but then that theory was tossed as they laughed between notes and danced around with each other on stage. a new song, you're clawing at my neck and your hot tears on my shirt just then - and then the second song, one I hadn't heard friday and had discovered since - until the sun turns black, where the corporate man is winning on the telephone and watches tv in the dark, waiting... fucking brilliant. all the rest of his repertoire, no allie, but yes to shelter and trouble and burn and joleen and hannah and you should belong to me and all the wild horses and so tired covered again, with blue lights instead of red as they were two nights before. luscious and ripe and soft and true.

we danced like lunatics. see, most people kind of just bob and nod their heads, but I've taken up what the hippie guy did at the first show back in january - where he was jumping up and down with excitement, where ray was just exploding through his pores - I just went with how it made me feel. weak in the knees and beams of light of song just tearing right through me. singing, screaming... chris (thomas, stand up bass) remembered us I think, or just dug that we were digging it, and sort of danced with us as he played bass and we danced and sang back to him, all punctuated by sarah's calls of love to ray. hanging off the barrier for fear of losing my grip, hushed when it called for it, leaning forward, head in my hands - a song called please. something near if you wanted me to be on my knees, to tell you please, then please... I was made to kiss your mouth, please, please (whispers now) please please please... and sarah and I are almost annihilated souls - yes, ray. please.

a less dramatic encore than friday, but a good show in it's own right. I manage a copy of the set list, and sarah - in her newfound awoken state - reaches up to chris at the end of the show, tosses him a note for ray, and he comes down and gives her a kiss. sweating and full and right in front of everyone, because they remember us, we get the guy-acknowledgement-nod, the "hey, I'll show you that I know you, but I'm going to be really nonchalant about it" thing. that is more than enough for us, and we're once again left reeling.

once again, however, I have managed to chat up a grad student more than five years my junior - this one more like eight - who currently has velvet underground, the cure, and jeff buckley in rotation. who talks to me of life and movies and how strippers are dying inside so he won't go to a club and movies and how old howie day is great and how he really would love to keep in touch. and then, as these young boys do, leaves with a half-smile and a see ya or whatever. now, a bit taken aback, I ask if he really wanted to keep in touch or if he was just saying that, and he proceeds to hand me his email address. hmmm.

cut to us eating pizza across the street after the show, swearing not to stalk, with one eye on the band's transportation, coyly through the windowpane. I burned my mouth. it still hurts now. in discussion of the set and boys and the bass player's kisses, I realize that it is completely and utterly the same as not getting a "bless you", or even "gesundheit", ("bless you" being preferred, of course). and I do the unthinkable, which is now not so strange, for me thus far:

I. Threw. His. Address. Away.

again:

Threw. It. Away.

crumpled AND

Without. Regret.

I stop sarah's reread of her love note... she kissed a man and handed him promises to another, that will come back stronger someday in something I manage to emote into my notebook for sure. I explain the gravity of this, the utter tremendousness, the epic proportions that stopped the world in orbit and helped me to grow fifty feet emotionally in that one moment. (say it for me - yeah, you did!)

it's drizzling now, the man lied to us about what parking would cost, and until the last fifteen minutes we spent together the radio fell silent. I talk of my mom and my creative explosions and kristin and plans and hinderances and avocados and words and boys... sarah speaks of her sister and how she's merely got a handful of cds and now the awakening comes, of shows and ray and her words and her passions and boys... we realize we have a lot of the same things to say, and sing a few for the road.

I think the reason that last call came at 4:33 became clear on that car ride home. it's a part of the fractal, this leads to this leads to this and the boy led to the frames led to the avocados... I'll assume you know what I mean. whatever it is, I'm excited for things to come, and to be a part of it for sarah as well.

we left with promises of notes and books and cds and beauty, and gratitude and hugs and full senses. in seventy two hours I've made new friends, shook hands with impeccable musicians I greatly respect, and helped fan another woman's fire. all while dancing, singing, and driving home with the sound of rain on the roof late at night. smiling and free.

and as I posted on mark geary's site about ray, flawless. with scars and cracks and misplaced lyrics and the wrong tuning still, totally flawless.

~vvb

Victoria Uhl