In which our brave heroine travels 6.5 hours to stand in a garage. And loves every minute of it.
I'm filling up on gas in Idaho Falls when a thought suddenly hits me: We're only halfway there. Six and a half hours to Salt Lake City. My compatriots begin to look glazed, wondering to themselves if this was a good idea. Caitlin, Ian and my little sister Kelsey all have me to blame for even knowing who Jonathan Richman IS, and I imagine when I introduced them, they never imagined themselves piled into a '96 Toyota Corolla for hours on end to go see him. But here we are. I can only hope to myself that they don't end up plotting my untimely demise.
Jonathan Richman is my favorite singer. Ever. And has held that title for an impressive amount of time. So when I saw the concert in Salt Lake, I knew I was finally going to make it work, come hell or high water. You see, despite my adoration of Jonathan Richman, I've never been to a concert before. Fate, time, tide, money...all have conspired against me. Driving my poor little car 400+ miles, I began to wonder if, again, I would fail. Or worse, I'd get there and be disappointed. Having this much to think about makes a long drive shorter, and before I knew it, we were in Salt Lake, in an endless line to check into the downtown Motel 6. After the clerk finally got the seemingly difficult task of checking us in accomplished, I was in a bit of a foul mood. Hours in a car will apparently do that to me. Especially since I'm the only one who can drive a stick.
We'd picked the hotel because it was 2 blocks from Kilby Court, where Jonathan was playing. It did not occur to us, however, that we might get ever so mildly lost amid the hilariously frustrating street names such as S 600 W, which is apparently different from W 600 S. We don't do it that way in Montana. Our streets have NAMES. Eventually, our Oregon Trail training kicked in, and we found Kilby Court. Allow me to describe the place to you. It's at the end of a dark alleyway, the ones you see in Law and Order just before someone gets killed. And it's a garage. I kid you not. The garage door is still inside the venue. Our tickets said the show started at 7, but apparently our tickets were misled, and the doors didn't open until 7. Caitlin and Ian chatted up the soundboy, who, when we said where we were from, seemed astounded. We ended up at Alberto's to grab food, then headed back to the DarkAlleywayofAfterSchoolSpecialNotoriety.
Early on, we jockeyed for position. I did not drive this far to stand in the back. We met the nicest guy, also jockeying for postion, that had brought his wife and son to the last concert Jonathan did in Salt Lake. They hated it. I could only express amazement that bordered on alarm, and one of my friends (It was Kelsey or Caitlin, I can't remember) joked that such things would be grounds for divorce in my case. I wish we had gotten his address, I would have sent him some of the pictures we got. We talked for a little bit, and held our spots in the front row.
Libbie Linton was the opening act, a talented folk singer that I ended up enjoying much more than I thought I would. Caitlin even ended up buying her EP after the concert, and we talked with her for a while. Nice gal. Another person who couldn't believe we drove that far.
Anyhow, I am going to get to the point. I swear.
After Libbie went off, the excitement began to build. I was standing right at the tip of the stage, blocked only by a large monitor at my feet. I stared up at the microphone, and it all felt a little surreal. Then I saw Tommy come in through the side door, dressed in a jaunty pinstripe jacket/ purple scarf combination. Surreal turned into "I can't remember the last time I was this excited".
Then, behind me, I hear Jonathan's voice. I whip around, and Bam!, coming up through the crowd, right friggin' next to me, is Jonathan Richman. I was immediately grateful to Kilby Court for being so small, as Jonathan moseyed onto stage, looked down at the monitors, and told soundboy he thought he said to strike the monitors. Here's about how it went, to the best of my recollection:
Jonathan: Derek, I thought I said to strike the monitors here.
Indie Soundboy: Yah, they're turned off.
Jonathan: *appears to contemplate the many colloquial meanings of strike* No, I meant get rid of them.
Indie Soundboy: *seems vexéd*
Jonathan: *hops off stage** begins to unplug the monitor right in front of me*
Indie Soundboy: *rushes over* Where do you want me to put them??
Jonathan: I don't know. It's unnecessary technology. *picks up monitor, and heads for the side door*
Concertgoer: I'll take that, Jonathan.
Jonathan: No, no, it's okay, I've got it.
Indie Soundboy: *follows Jonathan out the door with the other monitor, still seeming vexéd*
After that amusing interlude, Jonathan returned, telling us, that of course, cell phones are another type of useless technology, and perhaps we might turn them off. Then began the concert. Despite being one of the most long-winded people on earth, I can't find words to describe how much fun this concert was. Standing right in the front row, three feet or less from Jonathan, I couldn't believe that I ever thought I might be let down. He started out with "In Che Mondo Viviamo", translating for us along the way. We were treated to several new songs, including my new dearest love, "The Cellphone Song". If anybody has a copy of that, please tell me, because, in a tragic blow, it's not on the new CD.
Jonathan: But Jonathan, what if you get lost, and you're going to be late for a show? Well then, I guess I'll be a few hours late then, won't I? Hopefully I left myself enough time...
He also did "Let Her Go Into the Darkness", arguing with himself in English, French, Italian, and Hebrew. Jonathan sang "I Was Dancing in the Lesbian Bar", and got the whole garage to sing along with him. My sister observed that the dancing, guitar spinning, and goofiness are perhaps things that only Jonathan can pull off. We got to hear a new one called "Celestial" (I think), that I loved, and so, of course, also does not appear on the new CD. "Egyptian Reggae" got some proper stage time, but surprisingly enough, no "Pablo Picasso". Jonathan gave us a short speech about how you can't play a song if you don't feel it right then, even if you wrote it yesterday, and headed into "Es Como el Pan", which is a fun, bouncy little song. The reworking of "Old World" is about as 180 degrees from the original as you can get, as Jonathan no longer seems to want to go back to the Old World, but is satisfied to bid it goodbye.
The concert seemingly drew to a close, and Jonathan told us if we should happen to run into him after the concert, that he couldn't talk, under doctor's orders, because of a voice problem he had a few years ago. The entire crowd gave a sort of "awwww", and Jonathan told us not to feel bad for him, he was fine, you're just not supposed to talk after a concert anyway. Then he proceeded to play "Because Her Beauty is Raw and Wild", proclaimed that was no way to end the tour, played "My Baby Love Love Loves Me", allaying my fears that I wouldn't get to hear it, then, preventing Tommy from diving for the door for the third time, played "As My Mother Lay Lying". Holy Moses on the mount. I don't consider myself a particularly emotional individual, but listening to Jonathan sing about his Mom dying nearly undid me. It didn't help any that he got all teary, and at one point, I actually did think he was going to lose it up there. It was like everyone in the entire room was holding their breath. I've never seen a room packed like that so very quiet. It was uncomfortable and lovely, all at the same time. Tough to describe.
Then the concert ended, and my friends and I went home, satisfied, babbling a mile a minute. Luckily, they enjoyed it about as much as i did, and did not plot my eternal doom. It was 6.5 hours each way, 13 total, and I would do it all over again.
See more pictures from this show at Flickr
Thanks for the fun review, chimaerandi!