There’s a mix waiting for you at the bottom! But I didn’t make it.
I have a habit of going to concerts alone. Acoustic, folk, punk, dance, surf rock, electronic — you name it, and I’ve seen it live and alone. It’s not that I mind terribly when people come with — most of the time, I am delighted to have the company. However, I’m never one to pass up on something I want to go do or see — concerts, movies, eating out, drinking out, going for a walk, traveling — just because no one will come with me. Buying concert tickets is the second greatest consumer of my ca$h mona!e, first being books.
The first concert I saw alone was M. Ward last year in Burlington. It landed precisely during finals week, and precisely during what remains the most epically unstable emotional period of my life, and the last thing I wanted to do was see a concert by myself, but the first thing I wanted to do was see M. Ward. I’d had my tickets for month, and when the day came, I biked from my dorm to Higher Ground, got my ticket swiped, and staked out a place on the railing directly in front of M. Ward’s guitar. My stomach was fluttering, but why? I was afraid to be alone, but not for safety or security. I was just afraid to be that girl alone at a folk concert, reading a book before the start of the opener. And yet that’s precisely who I was, though I was having a huge struggle embracing it. It’s a bizarrely acute and pervasive fear we have in Western culture — that aversion we have to being solitary, and in particular, to being seen on one’s own.
As it turned out, it would have been a terrible concert to have seen with friends. It meant too much to me, more than I had known it would when I’d bought the ticket, so much that I had tears in my eyes during “Chinese Translation.” A friend, any friend, would have ruined the magic that swelled in me and floated around me on my spring evening bike ride home, weaving in and out of the fragrances of blossoming trees. I don’t know how much of my heart was hanging off my sleeve, but at the end of the concert even the girl next to me, the one who happily received the set list her boyfriend had snagged for her, gave me a smile and handed me the paper, saying, “I heard you singing all the words, I think you might want this more than me.” I could have hugged her, and almost did.
Another hugely important concert to me to see alone was Andrew Bird, a few weeks later. But it didn’t have the same effect other Andrew Bird concerts have had on me — he was with his band, and I ended up buying a ticket for a friend, and a boy with whom I’d had a poetry class asked me for my number afterwards. In a way, it was better that I saw Andrew Bird in a light and ambiance different than I’d ever seen him. It washed away the stains of sweet memories turned sour, gave me a blank slate on which I was able to make his music my own, if you will.
I dated the boy until the end of the summer, when I left Burlington for Cooperstown and Cooperstown for Belgium. It felt horrifyingly static, by no one’s fault other than my own inexplicable emotional stagnancy. He liked me too much, was far too nice to me for me to reciprocate. He was much sadder at my leaving than I was — it felt so cruel, but have an expiration date and reaching it and being able to throw it all out and start over was a huge sigh of relief. I told him when we were saying goodbye that I believed, strongly believed with all my heart, in forces of the universe pushing people together who are meant to be together. For a minute. For an hour. For a day, for months, for years. You are supposed to meet who you meet, and if you are supposed to see someone again, then you will. Paths just cross and align and disconnect like that. There’s no coincidence, but an intricate and endlessly complicated web of choices. I told him all that not telling him that I didn’t necessarily believed that would hold true for the two of us. But it made him smile, and it made it a little easier to climb into the driver’s seat of my mom’s Subaru and cart away my summer suitcases, waving a final teary goodbye to Vermont over my shoulder as I crossed the Crown Point bridge. When I see the Green Mountains again, it will have been over a year.
That boy gave me a Mondo Boys mix, specifically the first Weird Summer mix. I’m giving you the Mondo Boys’ Desert Island mix, because its transition from Unknown Mortal Orchestra to Dr. Dog’s cover of “Heart It Races” is flawless. Among every other flawless part of the mix. It’s free to download and the track list is right below the download link.
If you’re too lazy or disinterested, then just take this instead.
- Daily Downloads (13 Covers Performed by Andrew Bird and more) (largeheartedboy.com)