Saturday, October 17, 2009

Please don't stop the music

I bought tickets for another Mountain Stage concert to see Regina Spektor -- even though it was nearly three hours away in Morgantown, W.Va. A couple days earlier while listening to one of her new songs, Eet, I decided I'd regret missing the experience. I planned to spend the night with my gram and drive back in the morning. I headed up to the WVU campus, Google Map directions in hand. I made it downtown 30 minutes before the show, but I never came across the streets listed on my directions. I figured I'd find them if I drove around.
I didn't. Thirty minutes later, after nearly sliding back into the line of traffic behind me before I could switch from brake to gas at the stoplights perched on steep hilltops, I parked with hopes that I could ask directions and get there on foot. The first coed I solicited had no idea what the Creative Arts Center was. Of course only clueless freshmen would be roaming campus on a Sunday night. The next girl rambled on a five-minute list of muddled directions. She lost me after the third turn, when I noticed her tongue ring. Finally a guy with a backpack told me if I took a right and walked up the hill I'd come to the road listed on my map. I started up the hill. After 15 minutes of trekking, the sidewalk ended at a busy intersection.
By the time I made it back to my car it was dark. The concert had started 30 minutes earlier. I took out my contacts and put on my glasses. I thought about calling my parents and asking them to look up directions online, but they were at church. I drove back up the road I'd walked and found the road listed on my directions midway up the mountain. I turned onto the unlit gravel road and followed it deep into a hollow that dead ended by a trailer. By the time I managed to maneuver my Corolla around, I panicked when I saw that my gas gauge had dipped well below the E line. I was ready to call 911. Google had failed me. I'd even been extra responsible and called the venue before I left to get more specific directions because the website only listed a P.O. Box, but I only got a machine.
I made it down the hill to a BP, but I was sure I'd missed my show. I had to wait in line for a functioning pump and make an emergency run to the bathroom before I could ask the clerk for directions. How humiliating would it be to admit to my family that I'd driven three hours for a a concert and screwed it all up? I was disappointed to the point of tears. I knew the feeling well. Suddenly I was lost, frustrated and alone again in Europe.
I got back in my car in one last attempt to locate the building. I passed something big on the left and pulled in the lot. The doors were locked. I realized it was the stadium. A few minutes later I finally made it to The Creative Arts Center, more than an hour late. The box office was closed, but after 10 minutes a guy located my will-call tickets. I slipped in the doors and snagged one of the last open seats just before Regina Spektor took the stage.
And all my frustration was worth it. Soviet-born, Bronx transplant Spektor belted out the most gorgeous tracks from her new album, "Far." She's a classically trained pianist and singer who writes and arranges her own songs, all of which are distinctive with her pure, haunting voice and quirky lyrics that are both profound and funny. Some songs are abstract, and others tell stories. Sometimes she makes crazy noises with her mouth like buzzing or beatboxing and taps out rhythms on the piano. Her East Village-cultivated, alternative sound is far from the folk music I've heard on the Mountain Stage.
I was most looking forward to hearing Eet, "It’s like forgetting the words to your favorite song / You can’t believe it / You were always singing along." While she was on stage plinking the piano and belting into the attached microphone with her dark red curls and red lipstick, captivating the auditorium with her so-much-better-than-an-iTunes-track performance, I thought my favorite songs were Laughing With and Folding Chair. Sometimes a recording, no matter how professionally produced, pales after hearing a talented artist create it live. Listening to music like Spektor's gives me a particular sensation. I've read the quote "Good music makes people feel homesick for something they've never had." That statement is less inspirational than depressing, but it expresses exactly how I feel.

1 comment:

  1. i wrote that quote on a mix cd! dun dun dun!! i'm glad you found it:)

    ReplyDelete

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.