I don't know who, maybe you. or you. actually, I don't need a single thing right now - I'm happy and content and experiencing abundance. but I just thought I'd stop by to say hi.
I also thought that I should get to posting about the national, before it slides into the corner of my mind for good. I know I always say that everyone is my favorite band, that they're so good, that omg you HAVE to go see them, but this is one of the times I really, really mean it. good like wrens category good almost. good like cut your veins open in front of the stage and let it get into you good, good like close your eyes and let the music take you to the Other Place good.
it was, um, good. really, really good.
so the circumstances surrounding my departure for boston were borderline insane - I had walked what seemed like a million miles carrying a week's worth of clothes and bathroom junk and radio schwag and posters and cds and just what felt like a ton of stuff. I had endured million degree subways and sad goodbyes. I left love notes for djs and had fallen asleep on the train, but only to greenwich, with the meadowlands blasting in my headphones. all on four hours of sleep at best, on the heels of meeting the wrens and seeing the most amazing set the night before. so that's the setup.
I stumble off the train in new haven, and I swore if I caught a glimpse of myself I would have seen sparkles coming out of the corners of my eyes. my pupils felt big and everything was hazy, and a little dirty, like that end-of-tripping vibe. and who's there, with cleanliness and air conditioning, but my fabulous mom. the plan is to pick up kacia downtown, head to north haven to grab my car, and go straight to boston.
let me reiterate: I have been in new york for almost six days. I'm running on no sleep and homemade trail mix, and lots of espresso. I've seen over twenty five bands in five days, I just got back from new york, and I'm getting in my car to go to boston. to see the national. at tt's. at midnight.
yes, I am in fact losing my mind.
needless to say, partway up to boston I start to get cranky. at this point I miss my bed, the thrill feels kind of gone, it's starting to rain, I'm changing my mind about everything and a huge part of me wants to be laying down in my apartment, bonding with my cat under the christmas lights. but kacia cheers me on with promises of bliss and more espresso and my head is starting to hurt and I don't know if I can take it anymore. we arrive with our perfect directions to tt's from kristin, score a parking garage a few streets back for five bucks, and head straight to starbucks. we sit down, talk some smack, and consume frosted espresso brownies and triple lattes. I've sinced learned an important part of the deal: fuck the milk. just do the god damn shots already.
we amble into tt's around 9:30 or so, before aberdeen city, who I've heard of but haven't heard. we set up a little spot in the corner and pick out band members in the crowd and it's starting to come back... we're going to see the national. we're going to see the national! mind you, the caffiene has helped me back to the Good Place, but still. we get waters and pee about twelve times and hit the back of the room as aberdeen city takes the stage.
I've got to say that they put on a hell of a set. I was getting so jacked up for the national that I didn't completely get in there and break it down, but I really liked what I heard and made a mental note to get more of them onto the radar. they had this guy playing drums, besides the drummer, that went nutso during one of the songs and it just totally turned me on. plus I had met two of the guys in the band in line for our CMJ schwag a few days before, did I write that up already? I don't think I did. so we're in line for our passes and all kinds of stuff, furiously plowing through the books, trying to find out who is playing when and how many bands we can possibly fit in and I'm all, no dude, I won't be here on friday, I'm going to see the national up at tt's. and these two guys turn around and are all, hey, we're one of the opening bands that night, and I'm all, no shit, and looking back now I'm realizing all I did was talk about how awesome the national was, but I think I did manage to tell them that I'd heard of them and was looking forward to it. so there they were, brad I think and another guy, whipping it out and pulling off a killer set. as they came off and pela came on, we snuck a little deeper into the crowd and closer to the stage, and grooved on them too. I had seen pela open up for the cloud room at the mercury lounge, and the lead singer - I want to say billy, but that might be wrong - is just so forcefully melodic and fabulous, and it was a little less rough than the last time I had seen them, and I loved them again even more. it also doesn't hurt that he's super nice, and now that I think of it, they all were. brad, brian, brian's brother, padma - they're all so sweet.
I've actually got to expound on that for a minute - like I mentioned when I wrote up the wrens... since I've morphed from penny lane to ric nunez (the kid with the sharpie), it's been totally different dealing with all these boys in these bands. I'm able to speak and dig them and let them know how they translated from the stage and what worked and what I loved and how I felt everything, whether it's the set or the album or the differences or similarities or what have you. and maybe they've all got big egos, or maybe they all really want to hear about how they're coming across, but these guys are just nice. nice and totally into their art and really honestly appreciative of how much you (as a fan) are appreciating them. I mean, brad held an entire conversation with me at the end of the night, and earlier on padma saw kacia and I hanging around between bands and came over to talk to us. I've stopped stalking and needing and pining away, not because I consciously thought to or anything, but just because that's the place I've come to. and the vibe I'm putting out must be different, because somehow these guys are all, hey, how was the set, didn't I see you last time, what did you think, and it's not because they want to feel me up in the back of the van. so we get to know them on a different level - which seems normal before the show, but then afterwards it's a little harder. like, um, hi, you totally just blew my mind, and here you are, hopping off stage to talk about the logistics of where the monitors were and did this sound alright and that part was really cool and yeah, right on. and that's when the tangibility of these guys just blows me away, but I can communicate about it now. amid the conversing. and on top of it all I can still take the set list, and it's okay. maybe I'm just getting more comfortable, with myself, with everything.
I love how I'm evolving. really.
so, pela kicked ass and as they wrapped up we got a few people closer, winding up dead center in front of the stage. freaking out. now all the juice is back, and I'm remembering seeing the national from the week before at the iron horse, and brian takes off his shoes, and the lead singer goes for a jack and coke, and there's the fabulous guitarist, and there's padma, warming up, winking from behind the keys. it's all happening and the lights go down and they start the set and we just totally melt into the floor. and this is the hard part, describing the set - this is where it gets a little wrens-y. it was just so god damn good, all of it, every minute, even the songs we didn't know. it turns out that the lead singer is directly above us, towering over us, stepping out and standing on the monitor and screaming and about to fall into the crowd, and I just had this weird trust thing happening about it. like if he was freaking out then so could I, and I just shut my eyes and let all of them really run through me, and I knew he was inches away and could potentially collapse on top of me and knock me over, and I didn't care.
it was totally incredible, like the wrens the night before and the time I saw the frames at the paradise - this is going to sound totally stupid, but I'll say it anyways: there are these certain times, especially from the front row, where you can listen to the music and be really into it and dig it and have your mind blown - that happens a lot, if you're seeing the bands that do it for you - but then, like those shows (wrens, frames) and like this show, it almost feels like you are part of what they're playing. like you're tangibly connected to what is happening on the stage, part of the loop of them playing together. not like you're in the band, but more like you're a piece of the whole experience - above and beyond just listening and grooving and loving it - I don't know if I'm getting it across the right way, but that's what was happening.
and a brief editor's note: the condensed version of that paragraph is hereafter referred to as the Other Place.
I do have to stop and mention two things: one, that if you see "ctree" or "cherryt" on the set list, that it is the most likely song to get you to the Other Place. watch for it. and two, if you are right up front and center, beware of flying objects, like lead singers, microphone stands, empty jack and coke cups, and the like. while visiting the Other Place twice during the night, once I was brought back by the droplets from a cup being flung to the floor, and once I was brought back much more forcefully by a microphone stand hitting me square in the forehead. I can imagine what it must have looked like after the fact, I'm standing there, eyes closed, palms up, mouth open, and DONK! I'm snapped back to tt's most ungracefully.
I wish it would have like, left a scar or something. come to think of it, it sort of did. like rayanne graff says, everthing leaves a scar. and like joni mitchell says, songs are like tattoos.
so I'm covered in both, reeling, bursting at the seams, falling in love going a mile a minute, sitting on the stage after the show. the kid next to us is like all, omg, can you imagine if they like, hung out or something? and kacia and I are practically twitching from the set and we're like, um, we kind of know them a little bit, and the kid is freaking out, like I'm sure I look like when I freak out like that, all well, if I sit here, does that mean they'll like, come out and talk to you eventually? and almost on cue padma comes by and proceeds to have a twenty minute discussion with us, everything from flowers to playing with his other band and bell orchestre at firehouse 12 in new haven to the set to recording a new album to the microphone stand hit to the other bands and everything. and this kid is just standing there, with this look on his face, wanting to say something, not knowing what to say, saying a sentence and his eyes going "I carried a watermelon?" a la baby in dirty dancing. it was just great, because I felt what he felt, only I was able to speak through it - and then after that brian, and some more show love, and then it was a whirlygig of buttons and other band members and cds for less than what they cost because we had spent every single cent getting to the show, I actually got on the train in new york with eighty cents in my pocket - so we promised to get them drunk, or at least take them out for a round of golf (and I'm all, you play golf? and brian's brother is like, no, it's funny though, isn't it?) and then we were spinning in circles on the sidewalk, wanting for nothing, forever transformed and just full of everything.
we caught up with the aberdeen city guy, brad, before we wrapped it up, and from seeing me at cmj he was all, so, what do you do, that you can just come to all these shows all the time, and I was like, well, I work a pretty flexible day job, but I took the week off to work for kexp at cmj, and we saw the national last week and bought these tickets when we got home because they were just so good - and he's all, right on, and then we got into talking about writing, and I explained how I can dig on them freaking out, and it furthers me going to freak out, whether it's from good shots or in my notebooks or what have you, and how I blog all of it because I need to, because it keeps me responsible to myself, like with my hair - it reminds me that I can't cop out about it. I'm all, I have to go write up the show, but it's not because rolling stone is going to come and read about it or anything, it's just because I need to. I have to. and brad is all, I can totally dig that, and I almost said, dude, I can totally dig you, but I didn't. we smiled and swirled out into the street, past old school rap songs and bleary neon signs dripping onto the sidewalks, wet with rain, singing and skipping and leaving kexp postcards and stickers along the way.
I'll leave the memory intact and leave the story about coming home to no keys and having to break into my apartment from the fire escape for another time.
this is ric nunez, with sharpie in fist, over and out.