The van ride was crazy, and later events would make it unforgettable. Even with all the u-turns, a quick pit stop to water the plants, and slight bickering about the expertise and ability of the iPhone to get us safely to our destination, I had time to reflect on a great day. After an energy filled show from a fantastic performance and a fantastic crowd in Philadelphia, we chilled with some of the crew and band afterward, sipping leisurely on a few beers while a safety meeting was held outside.
Avoiding the die-hards by sheltering ourselves in the bosom of the bus, a few rounds later it was time to head out. The night was crisp and filled with hints of winter. Two lone fans still endured. Physically shivering with white knuckles in hopes that Ani would sign various memento-based paraphernalia and authenticate whatever personal treasure they possessed, we bee-lined it towards the van. In the comfort of the big old Chrysler, I thought what a ride it must be to go from unknown to somebody. To lose anonymity. To have so much support from the crazed steadfast love of your base, and then later have to avoid them sometimes because they can occasionally freak you out. I’m not saying these particular fans were bad in any way, but it did make me think about it. For better or worse though, it’s people who make all of this possible.
And that’s the thing. This trip hasn’t really been about music all the time…or even most of the time. The real world is what happens in-between. Events that occur, the places you see, and people you meet. As we headed towards New Jersey and Reed’s ( he was kind enough to let us crash at his house. Thanks Reed!) we were prompted by the iPhone to turn right, but we were unprepared for where this 90 degree turn would take us. Flashing blue and red lights signaled a scene in progress that was only a moment in passing for us, but a lifetime for others. A liquor store with an ambulance. A stretcher with a body bag-occupied. A poor soul on their knees, vomiting. And then the building obstructed the view, and we passed on in to the night. In the back of the van Leslie and I, our faces illuminated by the warm yellow glow cast by halogen lights, looked towards each other with trepidation in our voices, as if to say, “Did you just see that?” The scene was one of those moments when you are 100% sure of what you saw, and immediately afterward you doubt your vision. Maybe we doubted because we didn’t want the world to spoil the night. Maybe we doubted because the thought of someone losing their life to violence for most likely a few dollars was just too sad to bear. So with wide eyes and turning slowly, we each faced forward. An uncomfortable silence passed as we both internally reconciled what we just saw, and then we moved on. It was a pure juxtaposition against the quaint little scene unfolding as we continued. We drove by old neighborhoods with modest two story homes painted white; yards with Halloween ghouls and goblins still guarding the porches. Little walkways with a scattering of leaves and hibernating grass lawns that lead up to sunrooms off the fronts of houses. We had just changed realities in less than five minutes. The world is a crazy place.
Shaking off the memory, rest was required. A short night spent with the Sandman temporarily satiated our need for a deep sleep, but I tell you, everyone was feeling the wrath of the road. Making it to NYC was an event in itself, but we found The Town Hall and parked the rig.
Tonight’s show was to be even more special, as Adam Levy was to join the band for the set. A super nice guy and overall master of the guitar, Adam was the kind soul who let us crash at his spacious NY apartment (Thanks Adam!) a few days back. This photo trip has been amazing, because I am constantly wowed at how talented everyone around me is. Case in point: Adam has listened to Gaby’s CD, but didn’t have much time to really work over the songs. Having also just returned from the road, I am sure he was beat.
They all met a few hours before show time, did a quick once over of the song list, and then headed off to dinner. If that was me, my guts would be in a twist-o-knot with my hands as clammy as a dead fish! And if that wasn’t enough, he stepped in with Ani for a few songs and crushed it again. When someone makes something look easy, that’s when you know it’s damn hard. Hat’s off to you my friend!
8:10 PM. Michael appears on stage in proper attire to introduce Gaby, and I marvel at the manner in which he carries himself (and Travis) with such esteem. The man should really think about going into public service. As he exits stage right and Gaby, Leslie, Sebastian, and Adam appear, I am so stoked for them. What a trip it has been. What a great experience the tour has been. I just love it when great things come to pass for amazing people.
I re-focus and get to work. With the limited amount of time and places I could photograph, I snapped here, moved there, tried this and that. After my time was up, for once I sat in the best seats in the house: Balcony level, first row, and directly in the middle. Yes! My perspective was amazing, the angle was killer, and the music sounded perfect.
Loud applause, hoots and hollers, and Gaby waving goodbye for the last night, their tour had officially come to an end. I went around back and congratulated everyone on a great performance, thanking them for allowing me to tag along and document this amazing adventure.
Then they did what they always do, went around front to greet fans, promote themselves, and sell CDs. Saying hello and meeting the people, I watched the three and thought to myself, “I think they could get used to this.” A few more autographs and the lights dimmed. Ani was up.
Of course she and the band killed it, and after seeing three shows, I was still wowed at every performance. They are such great musicians. Different instruments, guitar changes, and a plethora of sounds and rhythms all provide an amazing experience that is well worth the price of admission.
I count myself lucky that I was able to listen and see artists at work at such close proximity. And you know what the best part is? The people. Every single person that is involved with the production of her show, from sound to moving shit around, is a genuinely nice human being. A BIG “Thank You” goes out from me to all those who put up with me nosing around, asking dumb questions, and having to listen to really bad jokes. Thank You.
See you down the road.