On January 24, The Low Anthem opened for City and Colour at the Esplanade Arts and Heritage Centre in Medicine Hat Alberta and I was lucky enough to be there. Lucky because not only was it a fucking incredible concert, but also because I won 2 tickets to the show. That's right, Lethbridge's radio Rock 106.7 came through for me again. Thanks again Vince and Rosie! I don't care what anyone else says...you guys rock!!
This free show ended up costing $215! And it was worth every fucking penny! Let me explain...
Way back in November it was announced that City and Colour would be playing the Esplanade in Medicine Hat. Our local Lethbridge rock radio station Rock 106, was "beating the box-office." I happened to be the right caller so to win tickets I had to name four colours that begin with a vowel. Well, with a little help from DJ's Vince and Rosie I won the tickets! - the guys didn't give me the answers, just hints....hey it's hard, you try it.
I was very excited to go. The Esplanade is a playhouse and therefore has theater seating, complete with an upper balcony. Now, if you've been reading me for awhile, you'll know how much I hate the thought of sitting through a concert! Not so for this concert or venue. City and Colour is more music you sway to than dance to and the acoustics in the Esplanade are fucking incredible! In fact I believe that one or two of the songs on Chris Cornell's Songbook album were recorded live at the Esplanade. So for an acoustic, poetic band like City and Colour this venue is perfect.
I couldn't wait to tell my friend, Rachel, that I had won tickets! She had been at the Esplanade for Chris Cornell...front row center no less. I also knew she loved City and Colour and she would be excited for me. My tickets were in the 10th row on the main level. Not that you can get bad seats at the Esplanade but I thought they were pretty damn good!
She was excited for me, then she told me she had bought over bought tickets for the same concert. She had purchased 2 second row tickets and then discovered first row tickets were available, so she picked those up, hoping to sell her second row tickets. Considering I had won two tickets, I was planning on taking my son, Moe. He's a huge Dallas Green fan - Dallas Green - City and Colour - get it? It was Moe who had introduced me to Dallas Green's music - City and Colour, Alexisonfire, and The Grace, a Neverending White Lights song featuring Dallas Green. I figured if I picked up Rachel's extra two tickets, then Moe's twin brother Marco along with his girlfriend of three years could go too. And let's face it...I'd rather be in the second row than in the tenth! At $60 a ticket, I was now in for $120.
The next week, Rachel and I were talking again about the concert. This time she tells me, her husband would rather not go. So now she has an extra first row ticket! My mind starts working...now Moe can bring a date and I can sit in the first row! There's another $60. Still a hell of a deal. Five of us get to go for only $180....that's almost half price! And I get the FIRST ROW!!!
When we arrive at the Esplanade, half an hour before they open the theater doors, we hit the merchandise table right away! Dallas Green must already be rich, because he practically gives his merchandise away. I picked up a T-shirt for $15 - I rarely see them priced below $25 or $30 at a concert - and a CD for $5 - normally around $20. The Low Anthem are a little hungrier...their prices were a little higher...I paid $15 for their CD - still a little less than you'd normally pay at a concert. So there we are, $215 later. Now let me tell you why it was worth every fucking penny!
I had never heard of The Low Anthem before. The band comes from Providence Rhode Island and consists of Ben Knox Miller, Jeff Prystowsky, Jocie Adams, Mike Irwin and Tyler Osborne. I watched fascinated as they moved around the stage, each picking up and playing a multitude of different instruments throughout the show. I was in awe! Since hearing them, they have become one of my very favorite folk bands. The simplicity and honesty of the music and the message in the lyrics is what captures me right away. The songs speak of happiness and gratefulness for gifts from a spiritual or earthly plane, not the material desires that so many of us get caught up in pursuing in our day to day rat races. It's fucking beautiful! During the intermission I went to the lobby to use the rest room and happened upon Ben signing autographs at their merchandise table...yeah, of course I got my CD autographed.
I think if it had only been The Low Anthem I would have felt I got my moneys worth, but then City and Colour took the stage! Dallas Green is fucking incredible. He calls his music folk, but it's like no other folk music I've ever heard. New genre? Modern Folk? Who knows....all I know is it's so fucking hauntingly beautiful, it can easily bring tears to your eyes.
Apparently a lot of their songs are in different tuning because in between many of the songs the band would pause to tune their guitars. These quiet moments gave the audience the opportunity to yell affectionate greetings to Dallas. He responded in good humor, even when the voices proclaiming their love were deep male voices. When a couple of women from opposite sides of the playhouse each insisted they loved him more than the other, he responded with, "It's not a competition, people."
About half way through their performance, the band took a short break and we had Dallas and his guitar to ourselves. Before beginning his song, he asked the audience to do him one favor. He asked that everyone put their cell phones down. For just one song, not to worry about taking pictures or video. He spoke about how we get so caught up in trying to record the moment to enjoy it later that we forget to enjoy it while it's happening. So for just one song, to be present with him in the moment, for just one song to just sit back and enjoy the music. After that we could go back to happily snapping away. His words made so much fucking sense to me that I did him one better and put my cell phone away for the rest of the concert. I'm glad I did. When the band joined him on stage again, they played my very favorite song by City and Colour, Fragile Bird! Without the distraction of trying to get the perfect picture, I enjoyed him and the music that much more! I'm going to remember his words for other concerts and events as well. I wouldn't expect that I would learn a life lesson at a concert but there it is. You're a wise man Dallas Green. Thank you for the simple lesson to live in the moment as it happens........; )
Check them out for yourself
The Low Anthem
The Low Anthem official website
The Low Anthem on facebook
The Low Anthem on Twitter
The Low Anthem channel on YouTube
City and Colour
City and Colour official website
City and Colour on facebook
City and Colour on Twitter
City and Colour on myspace
City and Colour Videos channel on YouTube
City and Colour on soundcloud
Neverending White Lights
Alexisonfire channel on YouTube