Who doesn’t love live music?
I credit pow-wows with instilling me with a love for the electric energy of it from the time I was little. My parents weren’t exactly philistines, but there was nothing else that could compare with the deep heartbeat of the drum and the sound of voices singing in unison. My mom was a music lover, though also a controlling person who wasn’t interested in anything outside of the handful of classic rock albums she had. My dad was a musician, though I never got to see him perform — a serious car accident damaged his throat beyond repair, ultimately taking his voice (and nearly his life. I spent awhile thinking he was actually a George Romero-style zombie, but that’s another story for another time).
When I lived in Delaware, I was fortunate enough to be pretty close to Wilmington’s Grand Opera House. One of my exes and I used to go there fairly often, for concerts or comedy shows. When I moved to California, things got a bit tougher — not only was I living in a pretty rural area, I was beginning to get very sick, and living with someone who was, at best, ambivalent about going to shows. I actually had the opportunity to see Tom Waits perform at a benefit show, but passed it up when my then-significant-other said he didn’t care about it, but was willing to go if I was. It might sound silly, but it’s hard for me to enjoy going to an event with someone who’s just lukewarm about it.
When my IIH was at its worst and I was downing Diamox like jelly beans, I barely got out of bed. Forget seeing a concert — I was lucky if I had enough energy and wasn’t in too much pain to drag myself into the shower once a week.
It wasn’t a good time.
All this is to say that I was finally able to go to a show last weekend.
I’ve worked hard to get myself to the point where I can kind of function. There’s a lot I can’t do, but I can go food shopping (with help from my S.O.), shower (with some precautions in place in case vertigo makes me fall), walk a mile, and climb a short staircase. It’s not much, but it’s a sight better than a year ago when my S.O. had to piggyback me up our apartment stairs!
We went to see Rusted Root (a band I’ve listened to since I was a wee thing) at the State Theater in Falls Church, Virginia. I was nervous about the venue (would it be hard to get to the bathroom if I needed to? Would I be able to have a bottle of water with me in case I needed it? Would I have to stand the entire show?), but it was much more pleasant and accommodating than I’d even hoped. You can call ahead to reserve a dining table for about $10, but we hadn’t realized this — they no longer took reservations by the time we arrived, but there were still plenty of places to sit right near the bar. We were able to relax and enjoy the show, as well as some nachos and a piece of cheesecake.
I’d never seen Rusted Root in concert before. I know most of their songs by heart, but they’d never come close enough to where I lived. (Supposedly their drummer visited Four Quarters for one of their events, but he wasn’t at any of the Wickerman burns I was.) The show itself was honestly pretty great — it was hard for me not to get emotionally overwhelmed. Nostalgia, relief, and excitement hit me like a fist to the stomach, and I think I teared up a little when I and the rest of the audience sang along. I’m even feeling it a little now just thinking about it.
They played a lot of songs from When I Woke, which was a significant part of the soundtrack of my life from middle school to beyond. I don’t even really have words for how good it felt not only to hear the music, but to be well enough to enjoy it.
The feeling lasted for a good long while, too, until I got taken out by a drum solo. This is not code language.
I don’t want to sound like I’m complaining, because I’m not. The drummer had some serious skills, and more power to him for being able to pull it off. Unfortunately, bodies are super weird. It turns out that fast music can absolutely affect your heart rate (in this case, “effect” might even be a better word) so a couple minutes of a kickass solo made my still-not-very-well-conditioned heart lose its tiny mind.
At the rate I was going, I wasn’t sure if I was willing to wait it out. I didn’t have any pain, but I also didn’t want to take a pill, wait for it to kick in, and then sit with a headache all evening either. So, instead, my S.O. and I decided to end the night a little early. We still managed to see and enjoy a lot of the show, and we’ve already been making plans for the next ones we want to go to. Drum solo or no, I am immensely happy and grateful that I was able to experience what I did.
If you ever get the chance to see Rusted Root, I definitely recommend it.