Sunday, June 22, 2014

Time Will Tell Us Who Is Trying To Sell Us

A very specific story drives back to these pages. (Posts, I guess, but pages sounds cooler and makes me feel more like an author.) I made it out to see Matisyahu last night for the first time since 2008's Ram's Head visit, where his family and friends were in attendance and consequently, we were treated to an extra special and extended set. That was the night that this duo of buds were inordinately excited to see the Flobots and, much to my puzzlement, chanted the name of their album repeatedly before the group was even on the stage. Now, as it turns out, their premature praise was warranted, as the Flobots exceeded every expectation I had and about six months later, when I stumbled upon a free Flobots show in Vermont, I was indeed the guy chanting the name of the album before the group even made it on stage. I made and lost a few friends that night, needless to say. 

Anyway, I will get back to the Matis show, but first there are a couple of other things to skim over before jumping into, as my weekends of late have actually entailed much more than catching up on sleep and work. A rousing four weeks ago, I made it out to the land of the swimming Whittys and soccer playing Pappases (man that's cool pluralize... seriously, try to say it aloud without smiling), Baltimore, Maryland. The one and only Nick "Lord Baltimore" Pappas was kind enough to open the doors of his kingdom to me as we went to check out the beautiful Camden Yards and see our beloved Os in action. The game itself was nothing much to speak of, as we were thoroughly trounced by the grinning Indians of Cleveland, 9 to 0. Truth be told, I caught an intentional nap late in the game that carried me straight through the seventh inning stretch. I eventually rallied. The Orioles did not. A shame to be sure, but with the great company of the Lord and the ever kind, gracious, and all-around awesome duo of Poppyseed and Emmy, it was hard to be blue for too long. In truth, at one point the game had become so listless that our group ventured to help me in playing what can only be considered the most pathetic game of Name That Tune in all of history. Not worth going into in detail, but let's just say they were very patient with me as I sang the same three notes over and over again trying to place the name and artist of a song that we never did figure out. Also, Nick and I got the chance to re-enact the now infamous "Bud Light drone." As noble a Camden Yards tradition as singing along to John Denver, in my opinion. 

After the game, we said good-bye to Greg and Emmy and Nick and I went back to his place to play some basketball. To an extent, home court advantage came into play, but it would be a diservice to Nick not mention that he actually kicked my butt in some L-O-R-D games. Won't happen twice...

Poor Nick, one of my best friends on this planet, mentioned many times throughout the day how excited he was to have someone in town to talk and watch basketball with. At the time the Eastern Conference Finals between the Heat and Pacers were very much raging and a game was taking place that evening. We definitely took care of the basketball talking. It was the watching that proved more difficult than anticipated.8:30 pm struck, put my feet up in the family recliner, watched the Pacers score the first four points of the game (a couple of nice jumpers by David West), and promptly went out like a light and slept straight through the remainder of the game. I felt so bad and continue to apologize to this day. The Lord, as you would assume from someone with that nickname, handled it with the utmost class. A solid billiard session and an impromptu visit to my aunt in Delaware, put a nice bow on a very solid weekend. 

The following weekend featured yet another thrilling excursion for which I stayed conscious the entire time! *fist bumps self* I ventured with yet another gentleman of lore, Matty Matura to see Dave Matthews Band. Each Dave concert is special, for sure. With that said, what made this show extra special was that this time around, DMB is strumming two sets of great tunes. One acoustic, one electric. Also, this was my first sojourn to SPAC (Saratoga). One of the great Dave venues. From a musical standpoint, the band was on point of course. My analysis of the show is not why your reading this blog, so I won't go into too much detail, as it would be a post in and of itself. Very quickly, I got my first "Pay For What You Get" which I was elated about, got my first "Say Goodbye" which next to a particularly choice "Dancing Nancies" was the highlight of the show. Also, I don't think there's anything in music, much less DMB, that gives me chills more than the vocal build/riff that Dave goes during live renditions of "You Might Die Trying". Awesome. 

From a venue standpoint it was actually pretty straightforward once you got inside, but what made it incredible was the fact that you were parked very literally in the grass of this beautiful park environment. Easily the most fun I've had prior to a show. Great meeting new people, playing music, sipping brews, and playing frisbee. In one of the highlights, or lowlights depending on how you look at it, of the day, Matty and I stepped up on the  Kan Jam court (Court? Field? Playing area? Zone?) and made it clear when we were introducing ourselves that we were good friends and we would be playing as a team, known each other from high school, etc. So after a great deal of talking each other up, it's finally our turn to step up. Right out of the gate, Matty proceeds to use two hands in slapping one of my tosses, which we all know is a no-no. It drew a hushed ire from those around us and I was quick to mention that we weren't actually that close.... Just kidding, Hydro. 

When we actually got in to see the show, Matty and I actually split up a bit, as I hit it off with this great group to my right and Matty branched off with another, more existential group to our left. I spent the show in the front row of the lawn section listening to tunes with good people. Matty wound up spending the show with a group intent on listening the the music and discussing the microcosm that is "life." I think I got the better end of the deal, but we both left with stories we'll tell for the rest of our lives, I'm sure. We spent the whole show within eye contact, so I consider the experience a shared one. 

Lastly, a fight broke out during "Crash Into Me." I didn't even think that was possible. 

Okay, now we find ourselves back full circle at the Matisyahu gig. The man is very talented, just to lead with that and it was great to see him again. In a rather cool twist of fate, I caught a drumstick at the show and got about as excited as a seven-year-old opening his first Gameboy on Christmas morning. Hopefully that puts things in perspective. 

The show is great, moving along, and again, through a series of rather deft dips, dives, and swoops. I find myself in the front row of the show. (All modesty aside, I'm deceptively smooth when it come to things like that.) We reach a point towards the end of show where Matis addresses the crowd and says that "we need some people up here." At that point the backstage area pours out and floods the stage. In addition, these two girls to my right (admittedly much prettier than I am) slide through the security gate and hop on stage. Now again, I'm deceptively slippery and not one pass up this golden opportunity, I, too, slide my rather "slender" frame through the blockade and hop on stage. I groove for a good 15 seconds before I realize two security gentlemen neither as slender or friendly-looking as I we coming at me (to their credit, pretty casually, I don't want to paint them to too negative a light) "urging" me off the stage. I'm no hero and I accomplished what I wanted. I hopped right of the stage without coaxing and/or struggle. I was promptly escorted out of the main audience area and watched the remainder of the show... wide right... where the sight line was kind of bogus, but the sound was still great. For what it's worth, I apologized to the security guy, explaining that he asked for people up on stage. I saw people hop on and I wanted to be a part of it. The guy understood and actually apologized himself. It's amazing how many doors open for you at these places when people realize you're sober and rational. I wound up hitting it off with the security guys and we had a decent time watching the rest of the show. 

Great, great time. 

One final note here. I guess this would qualify as a soapbox moment, so brace yourself, but I don't quite mean this as vehemently as I'm sure this comes off in type. As I'm sure most know, the Rangers recently had their memorable post season run brought to an end in the cup finals. I noticed a great deal of Ranger fans lashing out at "bandwagon" fans and essentially perpetuating a kind of fictitious "turf war" over who was wearing the red and blue first. I mean, I understand that bandwagon fans very much exist, but I don't really see the point in calling people out on something like that. The fact is that the local team was playing some great hockey and had the chance to join the annals of history. I don't see why you would try to make that experience exclusive. It was a special time for New York and I for one was of the opinion of the more the merrier. I'd be pleased that the sport was reaching such a wide audience and that the team was a part of something arguably bigger than the sport. I mean, you true fans know who you really are. In my opinion, that should be enough. What's cool is I'm sure that a lot of true fans were born through this playoff run and I'm sure they'll be lamenting every three game losing streak during this upcoming season. That's pretty sweet, I think. 

I feel I have the right to say this as a Mavs fan. In 2011, we very suddenly became America's team as the nation watched intently as we clashed with the then despised (not much has changed, but back then the animosity was at a fever pitch) Miami Heat. Very suddenly, there were a lot of pro-Dirk voices sprouting up from near and far. You and I both know people were more rooting against the Heat than rooting for the Mavs, but at the end of the day, it was great to have the support and I knew who I was as a fan. It was great to have people along for the ride. 

The way I see it, as long as a bandwagon fan doesn't try to sound like an expert overnight, welcome to the party. We'll leave the light on and the door open for you. 

Song of the Day: "Desert Sunrise" - Brett Dennen
Jazz Song of the Day: "Body and Soul" - Gary Burton