After Ang and I finally met up in Kenmore Square, we fought Red Sox Nation to get a bite to eat at McDonald's. This VERY late lunch helped to rescue my mood a bit. I'm glad we took the time to sit since we were about to stand up for the next 5 hours.
We followed the throngs in the general direction of Fenway, but we were not counting ourselves among those who were about to watch the Sox thrash the Angels 10-1. Instead, we got in line at Avalon (one of the big clubs on Lansdowne St next to Fenway), showed our IDs, got a lovely orange bracelet, and walked inside. I haven't been to Avalon since I last lived in Boston, during grad school. I recall that the last time I was there involved some post-party drinking with 2 guys my roommate and I met at said party. I was surprised I remembered so much about the interior of the place. Hilariously enough, the bathroom was perfectly familiar, but I could swear the place was much bigger than it appeared to me last night. Ahh, perceptions over time, and how they vary depending on the ingestion of substances...
Needless to say, I had mixed emotions about being back there. That place has directed connections to who I used to be. It was a long time ago, but not long enough that I've forgotten or that it couldn't happen again. But this time was about redeeming that place in my heart and solidifying who I am in Boston now.
Ang and I were there to see Mat Kearney, the headliner for the VH1 You Outta Know Tour (I know, cheesy). Mat is a Christian who doesn't sing songs that are overtly Christian. He's gotten pretty famous over the last year by virtue of several of his songs being featured on Grey's Anatomy. I got his CD in a Relevant Network kit last spring and immediately loved it--it's a mix of guitar pop, piano, and spoken word/rap. Good, creative stuff. He came to Boston last fall and I missed the show due to my own poor pre-planning. I jumped at the chance to see him this time.
The show was a triple bill headed off by Rocco deLuca and the Burden. They are more rock influenced than Mat Kearney, but I could dig the neo-steel guitar sound. I enjoyed their set, other than the guitar solo that hearkened to something memorialized in There's Something About Mary. Let's just say he was REALLY into that solo.
Next up was The Feeling, a band from the UK that I would best describe as Euro, emo-pants pop. I give them credit for the fantastic harmonizing, but the lead singer's posturing and dancing on stage was SOOO annoying. I gulped down my Sam Adams while those guys were on stage--I was hoping it would make it end. But the pain was only amplified by the addition of two female college students with voices that I can only describe as East Coast Valley Girl. Their conversations during the show were frequently hilarious due to their lack of content beyond:
- Relative hotness of band members
- Rating the current song ("awesome" and "so great" were used frequently)
- Recent hookups and their fallout
- Maligning the fact that Tom Petty was not playing there after one of his songs was played as walk-in music between sets. Um, you won't be getting Tom Petty tickets for $17, or seeing him in a small venue like that, but I digress...
- "He looked at me! I know he was singing right to me!"
Unfortunately, the East Valley Girls stuck around even after The Feeling's set was over. Later on I felt guilty about being so annoyed by them since these are exactly the people I'm sent to show God's love. Chalk that up to learning experience #1 for the night.
Another random concert-goer that made Angela and I crack up numerous times was Drunk Zebra Lady. This poor woman apparently forgot that the 80's were best left there the first time around. That outfit would have looked disastrous on a 17 year old, let alone someone of her age. It's a shame I wasn't able to capture her dancing. Please enjoy her picture here:
With all that said, I was happy for Mat Kearney to step on stage. My feet and lower back were starting to show their age. Needless to say, his set was very well done, with a great mix of his guitar- and piano-based songs. He sang every song from his latest album, as well as two older songs, and a new one called "Black and White." As he explained, the latter song was written while he was in Istanbul.
I enjoyed the show, but wished he talked more about the songs and their origins. Before taking to the piano to play one of my favorites, "All I Need," he explained that it was written for some friends who lived through Katrina in New Orleans. I attempted to record the song, but my camera's memory card ran out of room. It was a beautiful rendition of the song, but it will just have to live in my memory rather than in my memory card.
Mat came out to sing the obligatory encore to the adoring Boston crowd. We were really into his music and he seemed to honestly appreciate it. He told us that this show was the largest they'd done on the tour so far. The final two songs were the most spiritual of the night. The first song of the encore included "hallelujah" in the lyrics and allusions to the crucifixion. I was worshiping in that moment, knowing that this place was as good as any to praise my King. The final song was one that is on Mat's album, but he added an extended freestyle rap. From the moment he started the flow, I could feel my chest tighten and my eyes tear. As he began to describe a T ride down Comm Ave on the green line, talking about all the colleges, and the students, I heard God speak through that. Mat kept repeating words about love, grace, and redemption, recalling Boston's spiritual and cultural history. He was speaking about those students to whom I'm called to be a minister. After the song was over, I just stood there attempting to take a moment to process this in the middle of the cheering crowd. It seems like God always shows up to encourage me at the instant I least expect Him.