For most of us, there was one incredibly important moment in our lives where music grabbed us by the heart, taught us something about ourselves and opened up a world to get lost in for years to come. This blog is interested in the stories behind those moments. They’re a beautiful reminder of the butterflies, the magic, and the mysterious something calling to us from our speakers.
Here’s one such story.
Where were you when you had this experience?
August 18th 2008, I was 20 years old. I went to the Uptown Theatre in Kansas City, MO to see My Morning Jacket. I’d been drinking Jim Beam and Coke, waiting all day in line to get as close as possible. I believe we were 4th to maybe 7th in line. Lots of interesting characters in downtown KC, lots of people trying to scalp tickets
Do you remember how you were feeling beforehand?
Extremely excited. Before this moment I considered myself a classic music junkie. Nothing after 1994 had any sort of meaning to me. I remember counting down the days ahead of time, the anticipation built and built. This was my first true concert experience, not just something where you go to a bar to see a local band or to an arena to see some shitty band your parents loved back in the day (Aerosmith, Guess Who, barf).
Seemed like it took forever for them to take to the stage. But something happened about ten minutes before they started that I’ll never forget. People started crowding around all excited, then all of the sudden I feel this weight lean up against me. At first I didn’t think anything of it, but as the seconds passed it got heavier and heavier. I side step and look back when, all in one motion, the weight dropped to the floor. Some lady had taken something and she was out cold just leaning up against me. She hit the floor like a ton of bricks and her male companion got her too her feet and away they went. It was an interesting way to start the night, to say the least.
Did you make this discovery yourself or was someone else involved?
I did not make this discovery on my own. I started working at a wonderful place called Entertainmart around the beginning of 2008. There was a gentleman there who went by the handle of “Barret”. We bonded over the classics: Neil Young, Led Zeppelin, Creedence. He was the one that opened me up this new world of modern music. I had known of a few bands (White Stripes, Queens of the Stoneage) but modern music did not appeal to me at all until I first heard Jim James slow Kentucky drawl seep down my spine like molasses soaked in morphine. Excuse me I have to get another beer…
Can you recall the temperature of the air? Any particular smells?
Ahhh yes, the temperature, the smells, I’ll never forget them. The air when we first got in the building was probably mid 70s. There was a nice breeze due to the industrial size fans blowing on stage, but oh boy did that place warm up real quick. Once the people started piling in, the temp got up to the high 80s and probably even hit mid 90s by the time the encore came around. I’ve been back to the uptown three times since then and every time it’s been as hot as two rats fucking in a wool sock (sorry, a saying my pops used to always throw out). It smelled like stale beer, lots of funky skunky and the occasional whiff of patchouli.
What colors or textures does this memory recall?
The theatre was absolutely beautiful in my opinion. It had a real southwest vibe with the color scheme – lots of teals, oranges, yellows, and reds. The layout of the theatre was pretty awesome. There were Greek statues were on the sides of the floor and two amazing balconies on both sides of the pit. At one point, during a feedback soaked solo, Jim James ran backstage and appeared on the balcony to the right. It was absolutely amazing.
Describe your emotional state during this moment.
Euphoric. Chills up and down my spine. Free. I’m open about letting the music control me and taking me to a place where I don’t give a shit about anything. But this was the first time I truly let the music take me away. Before this, I always worried about people watching me and the image I was putting out. The beauty of this music touched my soul like nothing ever had before.
Describe any physical reactions you had to what you were hearing/seeing.
First and foremost, goosebumps. I still get them when I see an amazing performance, but this was the first time I had experienced it truly in sync with the moment at hand. Lots of head banging, lots of dancing. I had a bad case of whiplash and was extremely sore the next day.
How did you feel when the moment had passed?
I was physically and mentally exhausted. No one really spoke, and I mean no one in the whole venue. Everyone had this smirk on their faces (this memory just brought a sparkle to my eye) like we all knew what we had just witnessed. I felt that we were all together, all connected at that specific moment in time. Everyone had this sort of afterglow effect. For a long time after this, I thought that I too could open my chest up and pour out as much soul as Jim did that night. It inspired me to want to become a musician, which I still don’t consider myself today. I’m terrible.
Did this experience make you feel more or less satisfied with your life?
Both. Before this moment I was just some guy who went through life trying to get as fucked up as possible and never truly felt anything. I was dull and unemotional. This completely changed me. Nowadays I feel everything. Before I didn’t feel any sort of emotion at all. But I was also less satisfied in the sense that I wanted more. The energy that My Morning Jacket got from the crowd, I wanted. The feeling of having someone you love share this experience with you, I wanted.
Are there any events, decisions or actions which shaped your life as a result of this specific experience?
Yes. I recall specific moments where I would get drunk and sing my heart out, where as before I wouldn’t of ever even thought about it. I also wouldn’t be recording the shitty music that I am currently if it wasn’t for this one moment.
Are you still getting something out of this experience?
Yes, I can go back and listen to the show whenever I want, My Morning Jacket Live at The Uptown Theater on 2008-08-18 : Free Download & Streaming : Internet Archive. And, as they have definitely grown in a different (shitty) direction, I still love all of their stuff before 2008. Anytime they come within a 5 hour drive I will be there.
As you moved forward pursuing musical experiences, did you compare them to this moment?
Yes. This experience set the standards extremely high. It’s something that’s only been outdone one other time – same band, same venue, two years later. Magical in every sense of the word.