In writing the entry published just a few minutes ago, I wanted to dig up what I had written after the Frightened Rabbit concert at the Empty Bottle this past winter, originally published Jan. 25, 2009.
Barely three months ago, and it feels like another life altogether.
I need company, I need human heat.
Standing in a bar full of strangers, a sea of people separated me from my very recent ex. Someone I had thought, fleetingly, I could spend a good long time with. While I listened to a band pour their hearts out in songs from an album all about a breakup.
Before the show started, we locked eyes.
I know he saw me. (He'd gotten a haircut.)
Assuming he'd read the e-mail I sent, suggesting a temporary truce from the electronic evisceration of the past 48 hours — I, for one, was tired of being a child 85 percent of the time — I elbowed him to say hello as he began to pass me…and he set his shoulders and fixed that clouded-over, stony gaze on a point across the room.
Our coats hung on the same hook.
Still, somehow, I found myself thinking about someone else for the entire set.
And the time rewinds to the end of May / I wish we'd never met then met today
I can't imagine a better venue for this concert.
The odd angle of the stage brought everyone in closer; the temperature of the room easily went up 20 degrees as the crowd inched toward the stage before Frightened Rabbit emerged from what I can only imagine was the shabbiest green room ever.
The floors bounced with every beat. We danced; we drank; we yelled the lyrics along with the band. But I still felt at times like I was the only person there with the music.
After the second song in the set, the lead singer pulled out a capo and snapped it to the neck of his guitar, strumming one chord to test the key, and I knew. Hearing "Old Old Fashioned" performed live — the singer's raw, quavering voice through the mic, feedback vibrating my whole body — after so many plays through those tired white earbuds, was glorious.
I'd like to think the whole band was wearing plaid, the hipster uniform, though their shirts may have been missing the mother-of-pearl buttons.
But I can't be sure. I was fixated on the singer, the way his lips formed the words and his face contorted when he hit a high note. His accent when he told us what a special crowd we were, that only in Chicago could the band play two shows in one night. He called himself a cheeseball. The sleeves of his shirt (definitely plaid) were rolled up tightly at his elbows and plastered to his upper arms with sweat; it poured down his face and slicked his hair across his forehead.
He took the stage for an encore holding nothing but an acoustic guitar. He stood on a speaker 10 feet away from me to play "Poke," which I'd never really listened to before, and the crowd fell silent but to sing along. Captivated.
Music can be so powerful, it takes my breath away. I needed that concert, that night, as much as I need human heat.