Right when I stepped out of Back Bay Friday morning, I knew it was going to be a fantastic day. But before I get to why I was more right than I ever could have imagined, let me break it down like a fraction for ya.
Work was unremarkable, though exceedingly slow. I got out in plenty of time for the 7:30 concert opening... or so I thought. Little Erin and I were going to the show together and I was going to swing by her apartment first, then we'd grab some pizza with E.C. and her friend before the show.
The T has a funny way of choosing when it catches fire.
Park Street, the main hinge of the T, combusted at rush hour on this particular Friday–the very Friday before a long holiday weekend. And, oh yeah, the Sox were playing. Amazing.
But apart from the relatively inconvenient delay, it was actually sort of beautiful. I went up to Tremont to see people literally filling the streets around Downtown Crossing and Park. All this was happening at sunset with the city just beginning to slip into its nighttime glow. It was surreal... like a very pretty and only slightly annoying apocalypse.
Eventually, the red line started running again and I was able to get to Davis Square and meet up with the girls. We desparately needed sustenance, so we got pizza in lieu of the bulk of the opening act's set. I am glad, however, that I got to see Old School Freight Train's version of "Heart of Glass" which was nothing short of genius.
As soon as I saw our seats, I began to smile with a grin that still remains plastered on my face at this moment. I was dead center, seventh row in a tiny venue. While we were waiting, Erin noted that it felt like the theatre had really great energy, and I have to agree. It was pretty electric, even when people were just waiting for the show to start.
Josh and the band came out and played a phenomenal set chock full of wholesome rocking goodness. They boiled with energy and enthusiasm, opening with "Mind's Eye" and "To The Dogs Or Whoever." The fact that they were having a blast playing up there made it so much more enjoyable for everyone. It was like permission to not take it too seriously. Josh was smiling away the whole time he sang, and 90% of the audience had the same expression reflected on their faces.
Unfortunately, I can't remember the whole set list, but some major highlights were "Rumors," "Me & Jiggs," "The Temptation of Adam," and "Naked As A Window" flowing into an assertive, electric version of "Girl in the War." "Monster Ballads" and "Here At The Right Time" were so beautiful that I welled up with tears. I liked those two songs before, but I love them now. His voice was clear and strong and the band was tight. He sang a full song without the mic, projecting out into the venue. It was amazing.
Josh also gets props for good banter, as I'm a big fan of concert banter. Ryan Adams is pretty good in a rambling-crazy-guy sort of way (when he bothers to actually speak), but Josh was humble and charming and just a little bit goofy--"...but avoid the deli section, where they're angry for no apparent reason..."
Long story, short, it was incredible and the most fun I've ever had at a show.
Afterwards, Erin and I went for a drink at a particularly classy establishment... and by "classy," I mean "questionable smelling," and by "establishment," I mean "closet with 60 people in it."
When we walked back by the venue, Josh was signing stuff and talking to fans. We stuck around to chat with him. I'm not going to say I wasn't nervous, because I sort of was, but I wasn't intimidated. He was just genuinely happy that people cared enough to hang out and talk to him about music and life and everything else.
We chatted about the show and random things (Erin: How are you sooo humble?), and I ended up giving him a dog tag from an on-going project by a Providence artist. It had occurred to me a while ago that its engraved quotation just seemed really in tune with his music and maybe some of the philosophy behind it. Apparently, my intuition was correct--he loved it. Really. "Oh man, I wish I wrote that line!" he said. He was so appreciative, and at the risk of using a bland word, he was nice. He was really, truly nice.
Even if he hadn't taken the time to talk to us, I would still buy his music and go to his shows, but the fact that he did simply reinforced why I dig him, his music, and why I would do something like give him that one particular token...
"in the smallness of this world/ in the smallness of this world/ in the small small smallness of this world."