The Urban Troubadour

Friday, August 18, 2006




Everyone has a favorite concert or concerts, that they remember above all the rest. There are many reasons for this, sometimes its the music or the experience you had with friends or both. My favorite concert was Sigur Ros this Febuary. My Friend and I had been waiting for them to come to Grand Rapids, When they did we were extatic with joy. Sigur Ros is not an easy band to catch live, least of all in a medium city such as Grand Rapids. The tickets for the show were $35, which neither of us had or could spare. So we decide that we would try our luck at sneaking in to the show and if we got in sweet if not, at least we tried.
The night of the show arrived, I meet her outside the Academic Building with some paper and a red shapie in my coat pocket. The paper and sharpie, was what I was going to use to make stamps. I drew two smiley faces and pressed them on to my hand and on to her hand. The Thrill of possible pulling this off gave me a addredaline rush. We got in line with everyone else. As the line slowly moved forward and we got closer to being checked I could feel the butterflies in my chest fluttering. The women who was checking tickets and hands looked at both our hands and said "Ok you two can go in enjoy the show" We had made it in!
we spotted two empty seats in the second row down by the stage and quickly grabbed them. The auditorium was packed with people, standing, sitting, perched on seats waiting for the show to begin. The lights began to dim and on to the stage walked four women. They all had that distinct Norse beauty, that is easy to spot in a crowd. They called themselves Asteun. In the center of the stage was an huge table like alter with white lace cloth covering it. On one side of the alter there was an analog machine and next to it was six wine glasses with water in them. The wine glasses were on some type of machine/amplifier. The music that they created was haunting and beautiful all at once. It conjured up feelings of walking outside on a clear Winters night, looking up at the moon and the stars and trekking through the snow to a small hut. Where you could sit and drink hot tea and watch as snow began to fall. During one of their songs, one of the women sat down and played the musical saw. If you have never seen someone play a musical saw it is a cool sight. My friend and I were lost in the music, revealing in our success at sneaking in and making it in. After the encore, the four women took a bow together and left the stage. Slowly the lights came back on and some prerecorded indie music came out of the speakers. A half hour went by until the lights dimmed again, we sat down and waited for the magic to start. As the lights got dim a cheese cloth muslin came down to cover the stage. Behind the curtain red and green lights shone through, casting shadows made by the band members. On The curtain black waves, floated on the white sky, as the shadows played on their instruments. It was like watching otherworldly spirits play music. As the melody slowly built and built till it snapped in a wall of noise, that wormed its way down to the very core of my being. The curtain rose to revel sigur ros. The name means victory rose a apt name for the band. All the songs they played were amazing and trasported me to another world that only exists in music. They played one of my favorite songs Saelgopour. The lead singer used a cello bow on this song and bowed his guitar. This is a amazing site to see, during the song he actually broke the cello bow and had to grab a new one. The song conjures up a grey day where you can see a storm gathering, all day you wait for the storm to break and when it does it just comes down with a fury, that is beautiful and terrible all at once is what I love about their music, it creates these vivid pictures that change each time you hear them but always take you out of your everyday living. When they played the last song and walked off stage for the last time there was a hush as everyone held their voices and tired to hold on to those last notes as long as they could. As we all let our breaths out and the lights came on I had a huge smile on my face, it had been worth sneaking in to see this and seeing it like we had made it even more worth while.
I am sure some people will think that sneaking in to a show is a grave sin, I on the other hand don't see it that way. It's grey but it is not bad like stealing or anything like that. Instead it's equivalent to a white lie.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

The drone of a million cars going uptown and downtown. A sea of metal that streches as far as the eye can see. Sterile glass and metal buildings tombs for the living. This is what we are greeted with whenever we enter a city. We have to look past that and underneath to find the true city, its people. People are what make a city, not the buildings or cars, they breathe life into the city with their jobs, music, theatre, street art, art, joys, and sorrows. Music is a vital part of life even if you are not aware of it, there is music all around us, sometimes it is easy to hear or notice, while other times it may not seem like music to our ears but if we listin closer you can hear the music. The city is like a living breathing ever changing musical composition and we are all composers in it. Some actaully play an instrument, prehaps in a band or on the street or for a orchestra. Others, like myself can't play an instrument to save their lives, so we add to the music of the city with the tap tap of our shoes on cemant. Humming along to a song, start of engies, roar of subways, talking all this interweaves with the actual instruments to become the music of the city.

Even through I am living right now in the country the music is still around me, just different and a piece of the city always is with me. Music is all around me and it is what keeps me sane, besides my art and writting. I've decied to set up this blog as a place to post my thoughts on music, art, theatre, film, and city and country life. Music to me is not about making money or pleasing everyone, it is about capturing emotions and ideas that can not be said in words alone. When we hear a good piece of music it can elevate us to a higher plan of thought or being and get to the core of our souls. I believe that in order to be music or considered music there must be emotion and thought in the music. Not just a few drum machine beats, a horn loop and some generic female or male singing about cars or cash or plastic love. That is not music its a cheap watered down copy of a copy of music. Music is the opening violins and drums of Beethoven's Fifth or the backwood sounds of bluegrass or chaotic beauty of Neutral Milk Hotel. Music is about conceting to something deeper and universal that people from all over the world can connect with and be a part of.