We’re currently under a tornado warning, so…that’s cool. A part of the country that almost never gets them. The sky is ominously black–this color is generally only seen in short, intense summer storms, and even then, it’s kind of rare. And just two or three hours ago, I commented on what a bright, warm day it turned into after morning rains. Figures.

Yesterday was Record Store Day, and not wanting Paul to miss his tai chi class or get dragged along for something he doesn’t really care about, I hit the record stores on my own. I strategized–I looked at the list of participating stores and figured Greensburg wouldn’t be as crowded as the Pittsburgh stores, so I decided to head that way, and then if I felt like it, hit Monroeville a half-hour away and then Pittsburgh on my way home, since I’d have to pass through the city anyway. It’s a very large, ambitious circle, but I was excited.

Turns out the two Greensburg stores were a bust–they weren’t actually participating. So I was annoyed at having wasted an hour. Had I known that, I probably would’ve just started in Monroeville, or even said fuck it and started in Pittsburgh. Monroeville is also annoying to drive in, strangely. There have been multiple occasions where we turn into the wrong plaza or parking lot and think, “Oh, it’s fine, they probably connect,” and they never do. And I don’t know if it’s because it was a nice day or because Steel City Con was going or what, but traffic was a bitch, too. Oh, and there was a shooting in the mall the night before.

So after some annoyances with unreliable GPS, those pesky not connected parking lots, and traffic, I made it to the one participating record store and did at least grab a couple of the things I wanted. Then I took myself to Panera Bread, got a chai, and finished it sitting in traffic coming back through Pittsburgh. I didn’t really feel like trying my luck in Pittsburgh, especially since I knew we’d be back for brunch this morning. I figured I’d just take my chances with it then.

Dom and Tina have been doing brunches all month long, but this is the first one we’ve been able to make it to. Last weekend, since we were going to the movies in the evening, we skipped it because it didn’t make sense to either drive out, back, then back out or drive out and dick around, and the weekend before that we were exhausted from a couple days of running errands and dog-sitting, plus Kelly and Brandon’s baby shower, and we agreed to meet up with Julie and Michael for coffee on their way home to Erie. We were glad to be able to go this weekend. It’s always delicious.

And with full stomachs, we hit the record stores on the South Side, and I redeemed my Record Store Day. First, Dave’s Music Mine, my favorite one in town, was mostly cleaned out of this year’s released but did have a good few from previous years, and I snagged a lot of Bowie releases and a little Cure, plus some CDs, including from some local bands. I try to keep up with a lot of them, but not as many places seem as dedicated to supporting the local scene. I was really, really happy to find a whole section to be able to grab albums from bands I’ve been streaming.

There’s one more store right down the road, and honestly, I think it gets overlooked by the Record Store Day crowds. But I came out with some of the popular and harder-to-find releases with the year’s Fleetwood Mac and Mumford & Sons releases.

When all was said and done, I spent a lot of money, but I was really happy. I haven’t actually gone out for a Record Store Day in a few years, maybe not since the year I spent it in State College. One year I was working that Saturday and didn’t want to bother with going afterwards, and last year, strangely, not many releases stood out to me. So I was glad to get back at it and come out with a lot of great stuff–almost everything on my wish list. There’s maybe only one I didn’t find, and that was the soundtrack to The Crow.

I love Record Store Day. I really do. It’s perfect for music nerds, and if my initial Saturday trip had gone better, I honestly would’ve loved having a day to myself drinking chai and buying music. I love it. I loved the trip today, too, with Paul coming along, but having some me-time in the form of tea and music is a pretty great way to go, especially when the whole point of the day is to help boost sales of indie record stores. And I can assure you, they all benefitted from me.

Then we got groceries, hit the gym, which felt great after a couple of weeks of inconsistency workout time, and now the day’s almost over already. So here’s to hoping my evening isn’t interrupted by a damn tornado.

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There are very, very few concerts I’ve been to where shit just didn’t go well, and even at that, even fewer where shit just didn’t go well to the point that it overshadows my memories of the actual show. Normally, maybe someone in the crowd is a dick or something and you move on and that’s it. But somehow, of the two times I’d seen Mumford & Sons in the past–who I adore–shit just marred the experience for me, and that’s hard to do.

The first time, I got tickets through a friend–more and more musicians are trying to find ways to shut out scalpers, but the problem is I have yet to see one that doesn’t inconvenience fans, too. So at the time, you had to sign up in advance for a lottery, and then if your name came up, you got the chance to buy tickets. I found it unfair, but the plan was a few of us would throw in and whoever came up first would buy tickets. So the friend who got them got lawn tickets. Now, I like to be as super fucking close as possible, except for bands I’ve seen a lot. But I get that not everyone is gonna throw down a few hundred bucks on tickets, so I was fine with it. Paul wasn’t going with me, maybe because he was still in school at the time, I can’t remember, so I was with friends and friends of friends, and this dude kept flirting with me and because I am a shy, awkward person, I just did not know how to handle it, and it threw the whole night off for me.

The second time, I was like, “Okay, I’ll redeem my Mumford experience.” This time, Paul did join me and I was the one buying tickets, so knowing I could easily find takers, I bought four. Terra and her brother were ultimately the ones who joined us, but finding the tickets a home proved harder than I expected. The show was in May, I believe the first show of the summer season at this outdoor venue, but it was an unusually cold day for that time of year, and it ended raining. Fortunately, our seats were under the pavilion, but just barely, so it was still cold and dicey. And then Paul was fresh off of his very first session with a new therapist trying a different, slightly more intense form of therapy, and so he was having a rough, depression-filled evening. I mostly remember him sitting there quiet for almost the whole thing, but he seems to remember more of the concert and was even recently talking about how they encored with a cover of “Wagon Wheel,” and honestly, if he’s more depressed in my memories than in his own, fine. I’d rather him look back on it as a good time than anything else.

So this time! This time I was really determined to redeem my Mumford experience. The setup was in the round and I bought floor tickets, bringing me closer to the band than ever before. I got excited. I took the day after off, the weather that day was not just the warmest, sunniest day that week but the warmest, sunniest day for probably the whole month of March, and damn it, this time, I was gonna have a great time with no hiccups.

I am pleased to report that I succeeded. Sure, there were hiccups, mostly in the form of the frustration that comes with floor tickets where people either lie about looking for their friends to cut in front of you or just straight up shove their way in front of you, but that happens at any show with general admission. The in-the-round setup was cool, and I think if they did it again, I’d consider getting seats, just to see how it looks from there. But it was a great concert and we had a great time.

And then I had a nice Friday at home, sleeping in and getting other shit done. And so if you’re keeping track, between that and dog-sitting earlier in the week, the only days I actually worked last week were Monday and Thursday.

We decided to have dinner at Mad Mex for our Friday night, I had my favorite tacos and a kiwi margarita, and we kicked off the weekend, because, you know, a girl who worked two days in a week really needed a break.

In the wake of the announcement that Paul’s employer will be moving his site’s operations to Mexico, employees have been moving on at an impressive pace. As many coworkers do, everyone’s been going out for drinks to send someone off, and it’s nearly a weekly affair at this point. We went out for a couple of beers Friday night and the place was packed, so much so that we didn’t even bother trying to order dinner–we stayed for a couple drinks, then ate at the brewery in town, which has been tweaking their menu ever since they opened. It’s definitely a good thing, as the quality and variety both seem to have improved. I still say they have the best pizza in town, though.

The best part of the weekend, though, was seeing Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness Sunday night.

For starters, anytime I can see a musician twice in the span of the year is great–we last saw McMahon in a more acoustic set last April. This time, he was at Stage AE, a bigger, generally more mid-size rock-oriented venue–it’s where a lot of well-known acts play when they come through who aren’t, like, arena-sized acts.

I think sometimes, as someone who goes to several concerts a year, I forget how excited I can get. I still love going–it never gets old, no matter who I’m seeing, and if I miss out on one because of money or scheduling conflicts, I’m bummed. Like, short of major life troubles, missing a show in town is one of the biggest downers for me. But there’s a certain thrill that comes with seeing someone for the first time or from seeing someone you really, really love, whose music really resonates with you.

Maybe I underestimate just how much I love McMahon’s music. I don’t know. But I was pumped for this one, and I had a shit-eating grin on my face probably the whole time. I’d call part of it nostalgia, especially when he plays old Something Corporate songs, but I know myself well enough to know I’m not a particularly nostalgic person and that alone isn’t gonna get the reaction I had. I just really fucking love these songs. It’s not that they remind me of a certain time–well, they do, but it’s not that they’re sort of stuck in that mental space for me. It’s that I can still put on Something Corporate’s Leaving Through the Window or Jack’s Mannequin’s Everything in Transit and still feel a rush when my favorite songs play, still belt every word in the car, still say, “I love this song so fucking much,” to my husband, who does not have the history with these songs that I do, and mean it every bit as much as I would have if I were still 16 and listening to them in my CD player on the bus to school. That sounds like nostalgia, but really, it’s a love that has never faded.

So this show. It was great. One of the things I love about McMahon is the energy he has–I love watching musicians beat the shit out of their instruments, and I love the way he can hardly sit still at a piano and has multiple microphones to sing into because he’s constantly moving and could never be tethered to just one. He’s such a talented musician and songwriter, too. I mean…obviously.

Some of the coolest moments, though, involved the crowd in ways I haven’t seen many musicians do. For starters, at one point, he had the crowd pull blue fabric over their heads in the center to look like water, and he went down under and sang through the crowd–in fact, he sang from the pit more times than I’ve seen anyone do that’s not in a punk band. My favorite, though, seems to be a fan-initiated thing. When we were in line to get in, people were passing out these little colored circles of paper with instructions to hold them up to your phone’s flashlight during a song. True to form, my phone was dying–our power had gone out in the afternoon and we were stuck charging our phones in the car, but that’s a whole separate tale–but I watched others do it, and the effect was instead of your usual lights in the crowd that would be held high during a ballad, you saw a bunch of different-colored lights throughout the venue. It looked fucking amazing, and it needs to be a thing at every concert forever. There aren’t a whole hell of a lot of ways, at least outside of arenas, where people are getting creative and creating a really cool atmosphere, so to be at a show and see a few things I’m not seeing other people doing right now was great.

And McMahon seemed to speak really genuinely from the heart about the fan response in the city, too. I cannot wait for him to come back. My top five live acts is basically a revolving door as it is, but hot damn if Andrew McMahon isn’t sitting pretty there right now.

Unfortunately, we did duck out early, during the encore. As we were sitting up in the balcony, I was thinking back to the hot mess we had after The Struts, where my brother and I had dead cellphones and missed the last subway out of the city by minutes, and I’ll be damned if I was gonna go through that again. So I looked up the last one out, and we left around 15 minutes before it was due to show up. It’s the first time in my life I’ve ever left a concert early and I fucking hated it, but don’t ever say I don’t learn from my mistakes.

We have tickets to see The Struts again at the same place and also on another Sunday night, and I’m debating if it would be better to risk traffic and drive to that one. For bigger events, they’d run more trains, but rock shows apparently do not qualify.

But hey, we made it home without incident…except for the fact that the power was still out.

 

 

Friday 5: Movement

  • What’s a song that recently moved you? On my way home last night, one of the local classic-rock stations played Elton John’s “Funeral for a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding.” That song gets me every time in an exciting way, and as much as I normally can’t nail down one single song by any artist that I consider to be my favorite, I just might be able to say that this is my all-time favorite Elton song.
  • What’s a song that recently moved you — right out the door? I haven’t had a strong negative reaction to a song in a while. If I don’t like something, I just kind of ignore it, and if I’m somewhere where I can’t escape it, like in public, I tune it out. Tell ya what, though, I’ve tried and just cannot enjoy Cardi B. At all.
  • What kinds of dance performances interest you? Ballet will always be my first love, and that’s the one that I’m most interested in. But outside of that, all dance is kind of even. I love the way dance makes the human body itself an art form, and I’ll gladly watch anyone do what they want with that.
  • What’s a good song with the word move (or some form of it) in the title? The first one that came to mind is “Move Along” by The All-American Rejects, who I still love. But I’m also partial to Elvis’ “I Shall Not Be Moved,” particularly from the Million Dollar Quartet session, with Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash, and Carl Perkins.
  • How do you feel about prunes? Never had them and don’t intend to.

From Friday 5.

I’ve undoubtedly told this story before, but it’s a good time to repeat it.

For a few years, one of my family’s Christmas traditions was going to see local singer B.E. Taylor’s annual Christmas concert. It started with my mom’s friend Fran, who she met through work, inviting her one year, and even after just that first year, both of my parents were adamant that I would really enjoy it. But I resisted. It really didn’t seem like my thing, even though I love Christmas music, so year after year, they’d go and they’d say, “Janelle, you really ought to go next year.” I think I finally caved after my brother went one year and said the same thing.

This is probably a whole separate thing worth exploring, but I think sometimes we resist things our families thing we’d like even though they’re totally right. Like, especially between my parents and brother, I don’t think they’ve ever really been wrong about something like that.

So finally, I relented and went, and sure enough, my family was right. I’m not sure what I expected–and regardless I have such eclectic taste in music that you’d think I’d at least have been more open-minded, but no–but it definitely wasn’t what I got.

And so our new tradition became meeting up with Fran and her husband, often for dinner nearby beforehand, and going to the concert. And the thing is–possibly a crucial thing–this is nowhere near unique. They often played two shows at Heinz Hall in town, often packed with families and friends going together, often for another consecutive year.

I myself did this for a couple years, maybe two or three, before B.E. Taylor died in 2016. I remember sitting across from my best friend out at lunch when I saw the news, and she was home in the middle of marital issues that ended in a divorce, so great year all around, that was.

This year, B.E. Taylor’s son and drummer, B.C., decided to continue the tradition of a Christmas concert, reuniting all the members of the band that had become so familiar to so many people over the years–I may have enjoyed only a few, but the concert itself was a tradition going back something like 20 years. So once again, we all got together. While we didn’t go to dinner, my brother and I met up in the South Hills and took the T and we met my parents and Fran like we had plenty of times before.

The concert was as much as Christmas celebration as it was a tribute to B.E. Pictures and videos flashed in the background, and for a couple of songs, the band played to a track of B.E. singing from a recording of one of the annual concerts. And it included a lot of the elements that made the concert memorable and won me over that very first time, like a local high school drum line coming onstage for a few songs and a local steel-drum band playing along with “Mary’s Boy Child,” which has been one of my favorite Christmas songs since I first heard it and naturally became one of the highlights of the concert for me.

A church choir was also one of the staples, and in the final years of the original concerts, their director had a stroke, and his son now fills his role.

And so it was hard not to be struck by two things.

One, how despite so much familiarity and all the same band and all the songs everyone loves, the concert is really different now, with two big parts of it gone. In a way, it probably reflects the lives of the audience, too. From the start of going to the concerts to now, my brother and I have gotten married, we’ve lost our grandfather, I bought a house and he got an apartment, and now he’s expecting his first child in the spring, and then there’s everyone else in the audience, too, and how their lives look different now than they did even a year ago.

But two, these two men were now onstage following in their fathers’ footsteps, and that the concert is as much a tradition for everyone on that stage as it is for everyone in the audience and they were continuing it. And the concert always was a family affair, but perhaps even more so given that fact.

It was nice to be back after a couple of years without it, and I hope to see it continue.

And so, enjoy my favorite, and one that wormed its way into my head for a few days but stars Jeff Jimerson, perhaps best known as the Pens’ anthem singer.

For a music lover, I have a hard time getting excited about new stuff these days. I don’t know if it’s my eclectic taste or what, but it seems like it’s really difficult. It’s not that I don’t like a lot of what I hear, it’s just that I don’t love it. I’m rarely impressed or engaged enough to buy an album or song–or even put it on a playlist. Most of the big names right now? Don’t care for ’em. I just don’t find them interesting.

So when something does catch my attention, I get excited. It’s a nice change.

Enter The Struts.

So, after a long stretch of exclusively listening to my own music collection in the car, I was like, “Man, I’m so out of touch with the rest of the music world,” so I decided to prioritize radio for my driving–if nothing good is on, then I switch to a CD or my phone, and honestly, that rarely happens, which is kind of awesome. I almost certainly was listening to local alternative station The X when The Struts caught my ear. I don’t even know what song. But it was the kind of rock I’m drawn to, with electric guitars and a hook.

Said local alternative radio station announced their annual Kick Ass Christmas Show with The Struts as their headliner, and although I’d only really kind of dabbled in their music, I liked it enough that I wanted to go. And although my brother is often busy, when I mentioned it, he was in. And then when I shared the flyer on Facebook, his wife’s sister and her boyfriend were interested, too, and the great thing about general-admission tickets is that even though I already bought our tickets, they could get theirs and we could meet up no problem.

I kind of joked about this being a throwback show, because for starters, my brother and I haven’t hit a small-to-mid-size local show in a few years, easily, and it was something we did a lot in high school and college. And second, what that means is four bands on a bill, general admission, standing for a good few hours. Neither of us has done that in a while. A lot of what I’ve been going to lately has been in seated theaters or big stadium shows, so this really was like old times. Especially with four bands, because that’s starting to take up a chunk of time. Two is pretty common, three happens often enough, and then when you hit four, it’s starting to become a different beast. In the end, we were on our feet for about 5 1/2 hours, and the next day, Brandon sent a, “How does everyone feel? I’m exhausted,” message. But…worth it.

Because, see, The Struts put on a show.

The opening bands were all great, for starters, and I’m also a firm believer that way too many people are dismissive of opening acts, thinking of that time as a buffer for getting stuck in traffic or not having to wait in line to get in or to just keep tailgating. Some of the best new bands I’ve heard have been openers, and if you go to concerts even just on occasion, it’s one of the easiest ways to discover something new. I believe so strongly in this that I’d love to pitch a column to a music publication that solely reviews bands I’ve seen as openers. I could give you full lists.

I figured everyone would be good. It was just that kind of all-around vibe, where I could just tell it was gonna be high energy. But like…I didn’t expect the showmanship I got, I guess. From the second The Struts started, it was a fast-paced rock ‘n’ roll party, with the glam look and attitude that I’ve probably been wanting but didn’t know it. I haven’t seen a rock band with a male lead singer come out in glitter and makeup–and multiple wardrobe changes–in a long time, looking kind of like Freddie Mercury, and they won me over so hard like halfway into their first song. I was sold. I loved it. They were one of those acts that’s great recorded but even better live, where all the songs are enhanced and more fun, and that’s my favorite kind of show. (Related to that, the very first time I saw Fleetwood Mac, they played “Second Hand News” so wonderfully that the recorded version isn’t the same anymore.)

And they played a solid, long show. With a big-ish bill, Brandon and I kinda figured their set would be an hour, hour-and-a-half tops, but fuck no! Two hours. And it was great the whole time.

My favorite part, though? They did this stellar cover of “Dancing in the Dark” that had even security bobbing their heads, and about halfway through, the frontman announced he’d be bringing his very own Courteney Cox onstage. And I was a little concerned, to be honest, because rock music still has a sexism issue and stuff like that can delve into weird objectification territory. Now, I don’t know how this goes on a nightly basis, but for this show, his pick was this little girl in a homemade Struts shirt that was maybe 10 years old tops who was, so, so excited to be pulled onstage. She was adorable and her excitement was infectious. It was cool to watch this kid–who said she’d seen them six times!–get brought up to sing and dance with the band. The gimmick was that they’d get the crowd amped then have a dance-off center stage, and in the middle of that, she did this backflip and the crowd went fucking nuts. We all started chanting her name. It was impossible to watch her without a shit-eating grin on her behalf the whole time. She’s gonna remember that for the rest of her life.

I found out at the end that of our group, I was the only one who was seeing them for the first time. A couple years ago, Brandon and his sister-in-law Katie saw them at the same Christmas show except as one of the openers, and while he hadn’t seen them since, she was going for the third time and introduced them to her boyfriend, Gage, who was seeing them a second time. Brandon ended up sending us all a Snapchat of a list of tour dates with an Ohio tour stop this weekend, and honestly, if I wasn’t going out of town with my mom already, I’d be seriously considering it.

Needless to say, a great time was had by all, and we anxiously await their next Pittsburgh show.

The weekend was a great success.

Friday night, we had concert tickets in Greensburg, but Paul had a doctor’s appointment he’d kind of forgotten about. It was early enough that it didn’t really mess with our plans, mostly, and he was done fast enough that we grabbed some dinner. The downside was it was late enough that finding parking was a bitch–we got one of two spots left in the garage near the venue.

The show was for Andrew McMahon, of Something Corporate and then Jack’s Mannequin, and for some reason I kept thinking I’ve never seen him live before when, in fact, nope–I’ve seen both of those projects live one time each. I think maybe I keep thinking of them as separate from him, I don’t know. But the point is it was a great show. I remember Something Corporate and Jack’s Mannequin being a bit more raucous, and this whole tour is more stripped down, so that was nice. He reimagined a lot of those old songs to fit a softer, more acoustic sound, too, which was pretty cool.

We grabbed dessert in town before we hit the road back home, and Paul and I switched roles–I drove, he fell asleep partway down the interstate.

Saturday night brought the return of the annual Dancing Queen fundraiser for the fire hall near where Terra lives, and after our pre-wedding dance lessons, I got Paul to come with this year. For someone who claims to not really enjoy dancing, he sure did dance a lot.

And Sunday, we went to my parents’ house to watch the Pens game and wrangle Seger. My dad was out of town for the weekend and rambunctious puppies don’t do much for productivity, so to help my mom get some work done, we went over, hung out, and played with him. The game was good, too–we won, ending the first round of playoffs. I’m hoping to make it out to watch games at Primanti’s and the big screen at the arena, but the house has been keeping us busy.

I can’t remember exactly how it happened–I think it was how easily Paul ends up in YouTube black holes–but we found out about Puddles Pity Party, a super tall dude who dresses like a clown and his this amazing deep singing voice and does tons of great covers. And we were both pretty into it. Like, his voice is so great, and it’s the kind of performance-art type thing I can really get into. He honestly reminds me a little bit of Bowie’s “Ashes to Ashes” clown, just strangely not as weird.

It worked out pretty well that right around the time we were listening to a lot of Puddles, one of the local concert venues announced a show from him, and I remember the timing being so good that I thought, “If I’d seen this a few days ago, I would’ve been very confused.” And naturally, we got tickets, and me being me, when I saw that we could get like third row, I was like, “Fuck it, why not?”

The show was last night, and I’ve already written about it in the new AXS listicle style they want for articles, but I have to admit I like that–it’s a style that works kind of well for live reviews, I think, because it hones in on the highlights without being wordy. Sometimes when I do live reviews, I struggle to find the words for them, particularly if I loved it, because I can’t just write, “It was fucking amazing,” a few hundred times and call it a day. As much as I’d love to see him really just go for it and put in a serious, moving performance, he throws humor in and it works pretty well, and there is a benefit to not having a concert full of sad songs. He pulls people up onstage and I realized really quickly our third-row seats put us in the danger zone, but fortunately, he honed in on other people and never came for me. His sets, like his releases online, cover a wide variety of music over the years and he nails them all, and like I said, his voice is amazing.

Afterwards, he meets with fans in the lobby, so we were like, “It would be a great picture and he’s awesome, let’s do it,” and I find the result hilarious. Puddles and Paul in reality are very close in height–Paul’s about 6’5″, 6’6″, and I think he said Puddles only beat him by a tiny bit–but he stood on his tiptoes for the picture and gave himself a boost. And then there’s me on the end, and they both tower over me. And they’re both going for the sad-face schtick, and I’ve got this shit-eating grin. I mean, really.

I love it.

It was nice to meet him, but part of his thing is he never speaks, which is kind of cool because it makes the whole thing very in-character and performance-oriented. But he seemed very grateful when we gushed a little.

So yeah, we had a good time. We had dinner at the Waterfront beforehand, walked around a little bit, and since Mondays are my days off all month, I got to not necessarily sleep in since the alarm wakes me up when Paul gets up, but I did get to nap and play with new hair stuff meant to keep my pink dye job bright. If you look in the picture, it’s a tiny bit pink, but today, it’s a lot more vibrant, so I’m pleased. And then it gets redone in a week anyway, so I’ll be back to officially having Cool Hair again.

I leave you with one of the only–maybe the only–original songs Puddles Pity Party has worked on. It’s called “Palms” and it’s a collaboration with Sxip Shirey, and I fell in love with it.

My 2017 concert run is coming to a close–the only one left is the annual Trans-Siberian Orchestra show, so that aside, I guess the last one of the year was Regina Spektor over the weekend.

I’ve been lucky to see a ton of musicians live, and at this point, there are very few I haven’t seen at least once. But Regina Spektor was one of those few. After several years and undoubtedly thousands of dollars spent on tickets, the thought of experiencing a musician live for the first time was exciting, especially one I’ve been a fan of for years.

And she started a little late, but she delivered. She played a lot of new songs but threw in some old ones, too, and I was really happy to hear songs like “Us,” “Apres Mois,” “On the Radio,” and “Samson.” She’s a beautiful singer, and live, her voice has a power that’s surprising. And for someone who goes to a lot of energetic rock shows, seeing a woman at a piano for almost two hours was absolutely a change of pace, but impressive nonetheless, especially watching her actually play piano–plus the other things she did, like get on a guitar for a few songs and do a few a cappella. It was a great show, a really nice night out, and Paul and I bother left quite happy.

And with that, I say bring it on, 2018. I may be looking at buying a house, but a wedding didn’t stop me from a steady stream of concerts in 2017, so why stop now?

We got wedding pictures back from the photographer a few weeks ago, and they came on this cute little wooden flash drive with a picture of us on it. They turned out beautiful. I’m really happy with them, not just because she got some great shots of the whole day but also because she got great shots of guests and the bridal dance. My goal is to print them all out and distribute them–I would have loved to put them in with thank-you notes, but I started those before we got the pictures back, plus the thank-yous are smaller than the smallest print option that’s not wallet-sized. And I don’t think wallet-sized pictures would be as fun.

We went out to both sets of parents’ house to show them off.

And then we saw Ben Folds towards the end of the month. It was something like my fifth time seeing him, but it was Paul’s first–he doesn’t always share me enthusiasm for concerts, so I started to just assume he didn’t want to go to certain things with me. Turns out he actually had an interest in seeing Ben Folds, which I learned the last time after I bought tickets for me and Terra. So this time, it was supposed to be the three of us, and she ended up having to work the overnight shift that night. And of course, with our luck, of all the people we know who like Ben Folds, not a single one could go, and multiple Facebook posts from both of us reaching out to see if maybe there was a fan lurking we didn’t know about proved fruitless. So I turned to the Facebook event page, and that got me some success. We sold it to a woman there and just met her out front before the show.

And of course we had dinner at PF Chang’s first.

It was a really good show, too, maybe one of the best I’ve seen from him–not counting his symphony shows. First he played a typical set, then he came back for a second, where we launched paper airplanes onto the stage with requests written on them. And the fun ensued. Of course, before he even got started, someone yelled, “Rock This Bitch,” which has become a live tradition where when it’s yelled, he improvises a song. Twice now he’s used it to tell a story about climbing Mt. Washington in the city, and the last time he referred to it as “Mt. Motherfucker,” so that came back around this time. It wasn’t the only improv we got, either. He’s good at it and did it a few times when paper airplanes had some notes on them as opposed to songs, but that got one lucky couple moved from their balcony seat, where their view of him was obstructed by a speaker, down to the stage, and then another guy asked if he could go get his cello from his car and play it onstage with Ben Folds for a song. And he did. The whole thing was pretty great.

Paul had been saying he needed a day off an I always take a day off to sleep in after concerts, so we both took the day, which happened to be a Monday. He had his heart set on the Eat N Park breakfast buffet, so we did that, and then I finally remembered to take my wedding dress to the dry cleaner’s. And then we spent the rest of the day at home.