I couldn't sleep.
I woke up at 8:35 am, unlike the usual 10-11 am. I set my alarm clock in the morning for now no apparent reason due to my own therapy session. Instead of preparing for things, I've downloaded San Andreas on my phone - and it's a welcome addition to all my other current bad habits. Escapism through Carl Johnson, CJ as he's known on the grove, with my weary eyes fixated on this tiny cell phone screen stealing cars, and running over old people.
I don't mean to bore you with the details, I just want to let you in on the day I had leading up to this event that I had been hounding Alex Garnett & Lindsay Ryan for almost a year now.
Therapy is good, I'm awake, I spilled half of my coffee the day before inside of my car rushing to work so for all you know I had a whole coffee shop located underneath my Joe uniform (jean jacket, black pants, black shirt) but, that's besides the point.
I was nervous. Really nervous. So nervous that I called Alex & my drummer Matt while my hand was shaking nursing another new bad habit.
Alex: "I think everything looks good"
Me: "I can't believe 180 people are on the event page."
Alex: "Yeah, it's crazy, should be good.".
Alex is nonchalant, as he always is. He's busy. I should be busy.
Matt: "I just ran, what's up?"
Me: "I'm nervous, what time do you want to get here?"
Matt: "I'll call you around 3-4."
Me: "Okay, circle back then."
I didn't say "circle back then" but it just sounds so good. Anyways, I clean my apartment, practice piano, play more San Andreas (I can fly now) and I leave my phone in the other room because it'll just play into the running story line I have before every show - "Hey, you're gonna fuck this up.". It's 2:45, I check my phone. A text from Matt at 2:35 "I'm on my way".
Weird, but fine (I thought we said 3-4 we'd "circle back"). Matt shows up, plays my shitty piano - I kick him off twice. We drink a beer to calm my nerves, I go outside to read with another person next to me - but it fails due to my neighbor friend & her friend showing up. I get to know a stranger for about 5 minutes who works in an office and is married.
We leave for the venue, this is long. I'm sorry, I need to build this up.
We get to the venue & all those - before show thoughts start. The whole time I'm thinking to myself: I can't believe this is actually happening. My whole band shows up early for the first time ever in the history of mankind, & we play a drinking game involving bumble.
Ben Wendt, Rino soundguy aka the nicest guy you'd ever meet in your entire life, kicks into high gear. I had a last minute-ish idea to have the audience sit in order to make it sort of like a movie, and he has 80 chairs. We set them up in high gear, I drink a coffee & the bands show up.
While we set up, I realize - "Oh fuck, who is going to hold the cameras?" I lose it just a little bit, I'm stressed, luckily - Justin Walker, SHK bassists aka the most late, nicest guy you'll ever meet, kicks into high gear and clears off his memory. We set up three tripods, I still haven't looked at the footage, I'm terrified but I think we got it.
Finally, the room is set, we had a helluva event page but if you've been in the music scene long enough you'll realize that event pages on facebook ain't shit, but we have a good room with people that genuinely believe in this idea.
Perhaps if I'd of stopped to realize that I would've relaxed but I wanted this to work. The Black Creatures play and they blow me away every time. The production, the theatrics, her booming voice, it's everything. I haven't been to many shows that you sit other than really big ones. When you are sitting down, it's submissive or something, it feels easier to listen & to me it was. Three songs down, and boom. The part I was most excited about: The therapy portion.
Lindsay Ryan is the hero of this event. I should've said that earlier, she was the therapist talking to all the bands. Ever since I brought up this idea, she has welcomed it with open arms. She's kind, engaging, & hilarious. I remember the first time we met for coffee in a fancy fishbowl-esque place with walls and floors whiter than Arnold Schwarzenegger's teeth and within 3 minutes of me meeting her she is cursing like a sailor. Shes perfect.
She sits down with The Black Creatures and this to me, was the highlight of all, the first set, the first session, the first time these three had ever had a conversation & it's so human. There's awkward pauses, Lindsay stops talking or a minute, they are unsure of how to end it & it's incredible. It's real. Jade from The Black Creatures is so engaging, mixed with Xavier's nonchalant charisma. I told Lindsay to "just have a conversation", and they did. It stumbled across like astronauts walking on the moon for the first time. It had never been done before. Not like that, not that I'm aware of.
Then comes Allison, aka Sex Ed aka one of the purest Kansas City talents I've seen. Her songs are vulnerable and she has this sheepish shy charisma that draws you into her. You want to trust her, tell her all of your secrets, and awkwardly walk off. "Okay, we've done this now". The interview is easier, but still, the second step for mankind but there's an awareness. I can't describe it, it was beautiful. Raw.
Lindsay had never been on stage like that before. What I realized as soon as it was my set, that this was a lot like stand up comedy. The audience was so attentive, a little unsure of what was happening for the most part, as was everyone in the room. Here we were, doing the most human thing possible: trying to connect with others. I saw hardly any phones during the event, there was this strange energy that I don't think I'll ever see again. Unease, but cleansing. The room felt clean, the conversation felt clean. I went up and I felt it. I wasn't sure what would happen, I felt unprepared but how do you prepare for something that's never been done before?
That's all I wanted. An experience, a real one. You look at me, I look at you, & I see you. The message being, "We are existing" & being mentally unhealthy in the moment is okay. In fact, it's human. You get a broken bone, you go to the doctor. You get a broken heart? Then what? Well, what I did was I saw a therapist and that saved my life. All of a sudden there was an impromptu Q & A, and there were my people. Engaged. That kinda thing puts your faith back into humanity.
It felt positive.
Lindsay Ryan, Alex Garnett, Ben Wendt, The Black Creatures, Sex Ed, My band The Lovers, Everyone who came out - I can't thank you enough. The Rino didn't take any money, same with all performers and everyone who put on the event. We raised a little over 170 dollars for NAMI on a 5 dollar cover.
The event needs to be re-tooled a little bit, I need real cameras & the set up between chairs was as awkward as it sounds but I believe in this. I wanted to share my day, I realized as I wrote this, it doesn't really do it justice but when does the writing ever. I've been emotionally drained all day and this writing is taking the last of it.
More to come. Be vocal. See a therapist. A trained professional who isn't involved personally in your life & get off your phone.
Also, if you are down here, thanks for reading all of this.