Thursday, July 5, 2012

July 4 Show in Review by Jess Edison

We were slated to play late in the evening on the street outside Raleigh Times Bar. However, since we were providing the PA and other gear for the show (in addition to gear provided by Debonzo Brothers), three of us showed up at 11:30 to set up. This all went without a hitch, and we were on course for lounging the day at Raleigh Times. The Big Picture put on a good show. After their set, Spiderbags showed up and set up.

Then came the ominous cloud on the horizon. We had known there was a chance of rain, and it was something we were willing to deal with. We had canopies to protect much of the gear and we had garbage bags on standby. When the first torrent of the day came we jumped into action. In the aftermath we were less optimistic. Some of Spiderbags' gear had gotten a bit waterlogged. We proceeded to dry things off. Then we had to move all the gear to a drier section of the road. Even so, Spiderbags had to drop out since it would be risky to play with wet gear.

So here we are having set up all the gear for the show twice. We were slightly damp and a little zapped from the heat. Rush volunteered to maintain things while Matt and I left for our guitars and drums and a little relaxation indoors. As I was laying down at home I heard thunder and distant trees being split open. The rain poured harder than earlier and I could only imagine what was taking place. Not soon after I got a message from Rush saying the show was cancelled.

I cut my rest short to go back to Raleigh Times and get details. There was a broken tent with no canopy sitting awkwardly in the road. I found Rush and Bearded inside a nearby building. All the gear was there, strewn about the room in a way that told the story. Rush didn't appear to have a dry spot on his clothes. Members of No Eyes were hanging around, laughing off the chaos that must have ensued.

Apparently the rain had been so severe, gusts of wind so strong, that there was only the option of taking cover. One of our PA speakers had been blown over.

After the last of the rain died down, No Eyes was suggesting an alternative plan, perhaps a house show. Then this discussion turned into a question - do we really want to cancel? If it turns out that it does not rain again tonight, won't we be sorry? So the show was on. We notified Kaitlin, who would be adding cello arrangements for the first show ever.

We set up a minimal PA system, plugged in, and No Eyes took the stage first. When they started playing the crowd circled in, magnetized. Their set was a mix of originals and some covers. You could see the transition in people's plans. Their feet and eyes said they were going to party here.

By the time we were set up the crowd had thinned a bit. Many people had drifted to see fireworks, but even the small crowd seemed enchanted. We were a five-piece again - Kaitlin's performance was stellar. Having cello in the mix brought out the composition of our songs, and the presence of that instrument on our road stage piqued the curiosity of passersby. After a few songs, the crowd got larger. Then it got larger. Then it got larger. The post-fireworks exodus took people past our music, and many decided to stay a spell. Hargett Street was filled from sidewalk to sidewalk, and the sidewalks were only passable in single file. As each song finished, the cheers were louder. At about the fifth song, a breakout moment occurred. Suddenly the crowd focused on three or four teenagers who started interpretive dance of our songs. Then some older people in the crowd joined in. Those that weren't dancing were smiling or watching with intrigue, or at the very least enjoying the company of their friends with a musical backdrop. It was my best show experience ever. The show had a real communal feeling. There was no audience, everyone was part of a performance greater than ourselves. This intense and comfortable feeling was sustained for the entire remaining hour or so of our set, yet it felt timeless.

When our set was finished, the crowd wouldn't let us go. One participant started a chant of "One more song." So we played one more - "Hologram". It was a juxtaposition that made the artist in me explode with feeling. The purpose of the song was fully realized. People danced to the words "Nobody is really here, the company are manikins." The call to action that follows in the rest of the lyrics was met with a sense that we are not alone. It was beautiful.

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