Right now I am sitting in the Tar Pit coffee shop in the
Williamsburg neighborhood in Brooklyn.
As I wrote this I’m listening to the fantastic new album by The War On
Drugs, A Deeper Understanding. In about four and a half hours, I’ll be
inside the Brooklyn Steel music venue when one of my favorite bands, The Afghan
Whigs, takes the stage. I’ve only seen
The Afghan Whigs one other time (four days ago), and I’ve also seen lead singer
(and fellow paisan) Greg Dulli another time last year. One of the things I like most about The
Afghan Whigs is how they blend Motown and soul and rock into one genre. And Greg Dulli’s voice does the same
thing. He’s one of my favorite
singers. When he sings, you can hear the
Motown and soul influence in his style. At
the same time, he definitely sings like a rocker.
There’s so much passion and feeling in The Afghan Whigs’
music. The music and singing are so
moving and emotional. I often ignore the
lyrics and just focus on the passion.
That allows the songs to become my own.
Regardless of the musician, with my favorite songs, I almost don’t even
hear them anymore. I just feel
them. It’s like that with my favorite
Afghan Whigs song, “Faded”, from their incredible album Black Love. You need to hear
it. Actually, you need to hear both “Summer’s
Kiss” and “Faded”, which end the Black
Love album back-to-back. Luckily
they ended their show in Philly with both of these songs, and I was there to
witness (and more importantly FEEL) it.
Hopefully they will play them again tonight.
I’m pumped for the show tonight. I haven’t been to this venue yet, and
although it’s new, I’ve wanted to see a show here since I first read about
it. I’ve only known The Afghan Whigs’ music
for about 3 and a half years now, but they’ve been favorites of mine since I first
heard them. I devour and LOVE everything
by them, as well as anything I’ve ever heard Greg Dulli do. As long as he’s coming to the Northeast,
whether with The Afghan Whigs, solo, Twilight Singers or Gutter Twins (hey, I
can dream, right?), then I will be there.
Unless things change in the next few hours, I’ll be
attending this show by myself, just like I did on Tuesday. While it’s not my preference, I am more than
comfortable going to shows by myself. I’ve
been doing this for so long now that I am more than used to it. It’s never even been something I’ve learned
to do. Ever since I first started going
to shows by myself, it’s felt natural. I
was born listening to music. Still, I have
definitely been to shows by myself where I’ve felt judged for being there by
myself. That itself can make me very
uncomfortable. It’s interesting that
this is something that gets judged or that others feel is weird. I’m there for the music. If my family or friends can, and want to,
join, then that’s great. I’d rather be
at the shows with people I know. But I’m
not going to depend on others to go to a show (besides that Iron Maiden tour
earlier this summer, but that’s another story).
I never lose sight about WHY I do this.
I have to do this. It’s what I know.
You know one show where you don’t feel judged, for anything
at all? Lady Gaga. I went last week, and I really cannot truly describe
what an experience it was. I am a HUGE
fan of hers, for many reasons, and the show only added to that list of
reasons. She puts on one of the better
shows you could possibly see. The kind
of show where you don’t care what the ticket price was. You cannot put a price on the experience that
This was my first time seeing her, and I am really down on
myself for not doing so earlier. I
missed out! But guess what. I am someone who usually learns from their
mistakes, and I have learned that it was a mistake to miss Gaga’s previous
tours. That mistake will not be
This tour is definitely heavy on her new album Joanne.
That’s okay with me, because I think it is a really solid album with
some GREAT songs on it. “Diamond Heart”,
“Joanne”, “Million Reasons”, “Perfect Illusion”, “Angel Down” were all played
and I actually think they sound better live than on the album. While I do like Joanne, I thought it didn’t sound as big as it was intended
to. These songs sound much bigger (and
better) in a live setting.
Do not worry. Gaga
also played her massive hits, of which she has many. This is an understatement. “Poker Face” was the first classic she
played. That really shook up the crowd
after the start of “Diamond Heart” and “A-Yo”.
I could feel the rafters shaking and swaying when that went on. “Just Dance” was incredible. That piano intro is so perfect. It’s iconic.
I will never forget first hearing that song in the end of 2008. I kept hearing it on the radio, and the
reassuring line “Just dance, it’s gonna be okay.” I kept up with Gaga’s radio songs after that,
but never checked out her albums until recently. I’m glad I finally started going that.
“The Edge Of Glory” and “Born This Way” were definitely the
most powerful one-two punches of the show.
She did “The Edge Of Glory” solo on piano, about TWENTY YARDS from where
we were sitting. Oh. My.
God. The voice! You almost don’t even believe how good it
is. That’s how good her voice is! The piano arrangement showed what I already
knew – it’s a truly great song. if you
heard that version on the radio, and didn’t already know the famous version,
you would think “Wow. This is amazing.” That’s the mark of a truly great song.
But wait. It got even
better. During “The Edge Of Glory”, she
brought a young boy onstage and sat him on her lap while she played the piano
and sang. She made a few comments about
how she knew he liked her music, and about how brave he was. But she never said WHY. I loved that she didn’t say why. It made it a more genuine moment. She knows that her music helps him, with
whatever it is that he’s dealing with.
Telling the crowd about why would remove the personal connection between
them. It would remove OUR personal
connection with THEM. It was a beautiful
moment, and further verifies Gaga’s reputation of caring about her fans.
A similar thing happened again before she played “The Cure.” She read an emotional letter from a fan in
the pit. Someone threw the letter on
stage, and she picked it up and started to read it. Basically, the person was talking about how,
despite his adversity and a very difficult personal situation, he was saved by
Gaga’s music. Her music has helped him
survive. He wrote that if he ever got
the chance to meet Gaga, he would just say “Thank you” and give her a
huge. It put chills on my arms and tears
in my eyes, because I feel the same thing about my favorite musicians. I have been lucky enough to meet some of the
musicians who have saved my life, and all I need to say to them is “Thank you.” It means the world to be able to say
that. And even better, this person got
to say it in front of a crowd AND got to hug Gaga. It was awesome!
The fan also wrote in his letter that his favorite song of
Gaga’s is “Hair”. That’s amazing,
because it’s also MY favorite Gaga song.
I don’t think it’s a very famous song, but you should really check it
out. It’s such a good song. She then went on and sang the first few lines
acapella. Hell yea! What a great moment!
During the show, Gaga continuously talked about strength and
compassion and empathy. It was such a
welcoming and loving environment. If
ever there was a safe zone at a show, this is one of them. I felt very empowered throughout the night,
and I still feel that way. One message
that stood out was when she said that to be strong, you have to experience
feeling weak. I know that I always feel
strong the moment I step into a venue.
Hopefully you feel the same way!
Here is a list of some of the music I’ve been
listening to the past week. Format: musician – album title, or
musician – “song title” (album title).