Monday, February 15, 2010

It started with a backstage pass

My curly-haired friend Kevin (Think Vince from Entourage) gave me a heads up on a show. The Antlers were playing with another band, The Editors.  I'm embarrassed to admit, but two weeks ago I had no idea who The Editors were.

Next thing I know, I'm immersed into an emotionally charged crowd of people swaying back and forth in a silent trance.  As we got closer to the stage, it felt more like a seance than a live show.

The Antlers were playing "Kettering" when we arrived. It's my favorite song and pulled us in like a tractor beam.  We weren't up next to the stage, but in the outskirts of the hot sweaty mass of 400 people.

Tiny venue, but I loved the setting: a converted opera house with ceilings decorated in an art nouveau fashion.  Gold plated awnings shined in the multicolored stage lights.

The Antlers owned the stage.  Lead singer Peter Silberman opened up his veins and bled through the microphone. We soaked up every heart-wrenched drop like ravished vampires. It was less of a show,  more of a feeding.

Their set went on for another half-hour. Everyone wanted them to keep playing, but they bid San Francisco goodnight and exited.

Lights went on and roadies came out. The Antler's rig was dismantled and carried out through double doors opening into the city.  We met up with the rest of Kevin's crew and discussed life in Oakland compared to The Mission in the heart of San Francisco. Conclusion, I love living in San Francisco.

The room grew dark and was filed with ambient sounds of electronic sound effects. The Editors were ready to paint the room with their English charm.  They stole the stage and never gave it back.  It sounds cheesy, sure, but it felt this dramatic.  Plus, the haze of pine scented smoke made everything feel a bit more magical than it was.  I was there, but I did not inhale.

An End Has A Start was their closing song, everyone knew it when they came back on the stage after the crowd cheered for an encore for fifteen minutes. Straight. "You came on your own, that's how you'll leave" was repeated by lead singer Tom Smith until it became a chant. It grew louder and more impactful with every repetition until drummer Ed Lay ended the set with the crash of his high hat. They walked off the stage of a darkened room full of cheers and screams of "I love you" from men and women.  Only in San Francisco.

As everyone exited, our crowd headed for the front, to the left,  and down a spiraling metal stair case. We were in the backstage room for the after party!  Everyone was chilled out and relaxed.  It was a room full of strangers awaiting the company of rock stars. Pretty awkward feeling actually. If I ever became a lemming I'd imagine this is the general feeling of their life.  Our leaders emerged with coolers of beer and bottles of wine.  The party was on.

Since I didn't know The Editors music very well, I wasn't as awestruck as the rest of the group.  It was a bit sickening to see starry-eyed devotees hang on Tom's every word and over-laugh at his every word.

This is why I didn't take pictures, it looked as cliche as it felt when The Editors said "piss off" through their smiles for the cameras of every outstretched enthusiast's arm begging to get a picture.  Instead, I sipped my PBR like the hipster I was and watched the show unfold itself.

Fast forward an hour and we're hitting the streets of Chicago. Me, Kevin, his friend Becca, and The Editors' drummer Ed Lay, singer Tom Smith, and guitarist Chris Urbanowicz.  The first bar was a bust. It was twice as long as it was wide, and abandoned except for a few disgruntled Santa looking fellows who wandered outside the North Pole and got lost.  Onto bar number two, minus Chris who found himself wrapped up in a conversation about whether or not a hawk could overtake an armadillo. Okay, I don't know what they were talking about, but let's pretend it was that.

Bar number two was a success. So much in fact that it ended with lead Singer Tom Smith serenading us as he sang along to slow jams through a microphone the bar tender was happy to provide. Great time. I spent most of it talking with Chris when he showed up an hour after the rest of us.  We talked about the Antlers and where you find inspiration.  Plus, the beauty of a foreign accent. For him, America was his promise land. For me, it's Austria.  Sidebar: Chris was jealous of my story about stumbling into a riot in Germany. One point for Matt.

The night wrapped up around 4a.m. with the bar staying open late because, come on, everyone loves a rock star. What a great night.  Thank you Kevin for letting me be a part of a great time.

Lesson of the day: when someone asks if you want to go see The Editors, say yes.


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