This may be the weirdest review of a rock show that you ever read.
I could simply relate how amazing Grizzly Bear was last weekend at the Metro in Chicago.
(Which they were.)
I could tell you all the songs they played or how much better they sounded live.
(They dug deeper into their sound than any recordings I had heard.)
I could share about the simplicity of the setup and the lights that flanked the stage.
(Quite possibly one of the most plainly beautiful shows I have ever seen.)
But come on, you’ve read hundreds of reviews like that before.
What I would rather tell you about is what the show actually meant to me in the whole scheme of life.
Like most people, this past year has not been the easiest for me.
I lost my father last November; my grandfather in February.
Financially, I am frightened most days as I struggle to keep my electricity turned on. And more than thrilled when I can pay a bill on time.
Work has been a little chaotic – to say the least.
I’ve been sick. My dog, Huxley, has been too – not to mention how costly it was to make him better!
(Stop this train. I want to get off.)
Needless to say, I have tried in vain to keep a sense of humor as the universe continues to throw curveballs my way.
Ah, the universe. This is where we get back to Grizzly Bear – sort of.
I sat in the VIP section at the Metro for the show. (Yes, there was a minute there when I felt like I had truly arrived.) Usually I hang with the crowd on the floor in front of the stage, but since it was a sold-out show, I knew my chances of actually seeing the band were better in the balcony.
I sat through Beach House – Grizzly Bear’s amazing opening act – as I waited patiently for my friend, Shawn, to join me at the show.
We were deep in conversation as Grizzly Bear started to set up their instruments on stage. I happened to glance over Shawn’s shoulder, only to be met with a familiar face.
At first I thought my eyes were playing tricks on me, but alas I was right.
Pat Sansone, multi-instrumentalist for Wilco, was there to watch Grizzly Bear … and he was going to do it sitting by me.
Bring it on universe. Bring. It. On.
For me – someone who finds great solace in great music – the night was a dream. One of my favorite bands blew my socks off, as well as impressing an equally talented – yet more famous – musician.
It’s the little unexpected joys that you need to remember the most in life. Moments that are for you, and you only.
These are the things that we need to focus on. Not the lack of money, the loss of life, the chaos of every day.
I know it may sound funny that this is what I took away from an small, indie-rock show.
But I believe that is the “meaning of life” we all seek out: Learn from everything thrown at you.
So I choose to revel in the glory of the night – the lights, the sound, the musicians themselves. I choose to focus on the blue-eyed boy I bonded with at a wedding a few weeks ago. I choose to get excited when I my favorite CTA conductor is driving my train. (Nothing makes a morning commute better than having Operator 810 “welcome me to the party” over the loudspeaker.) I choose to worship the colors fall is bringing our way.
No matter what the universe has in store.
On a side note, Sansone was later asked to move from the reserved table he was occupying. (Even though whomever it was saved for did not show up for the show.) I heard the conversation between him and the Metro staffer. Words like “ridiculous” and “insane” were floated around. But not once did Sansone ever say the infamous, “Do you know who I am?”
He and his girlfriend simply stood up to watch the rest of the show with the rest of us.