Every [two weeks?] Jamie Hale takes a long, hard look at the music industry and the blog scene that feeds it. Here, he releases those findings and makes snarky, sarcastic remarks. Admittedly, both Jamie and Knox Road are a part of this scene. So sue us.
I just spent the last six weeks talking about some real heavy stuff. An in-depth look at how September 11 changed rock ‘n’ roll? Jesus. I should have thrown in how Pearl Harbor changed Big Band while I was at it. After all that nonsense, I’m going to take a little break from the heavier topics (RIAA’s year-end numbers were oh so tempting) in favor of a little light anecdote. This time around I’m telling a very recent and very embarrassing story.
I’m calling it: Confessions of a Concert Fainter or When I Passed Out at an Of Montreal Show.
Yes, even I, a mightier-than-thou music blogger, am vulnerable to the same fate that befell so many young women of the ’60s. The setting was The Crystal Ballroom in Portland. I was there with Brittany on a trip to visit the Pacific Northwest and, of course, go see one of my favorite acts, Of Montreal.
Brittany, a huge fan of the band, had never seen them live before. I saw them a few years ago in D.C. and had been gushing about their live show to her for months now. We got to the venue at about 7:15 for 8:00 p.m. general admission doors. Inside, we found ourselves dead center, second row; classic spots.
I excused myself to drain a Red Bull and vodka (I was tired and I weirdly like the taste of Red Bull, don’t look at me). I got back and we waited, posting pictures to Facebook and bragging to friends about the incredible experience we were about to have. It was perfect–a little TOO perfect.
At 9:00 p.m. sharp, a slender Asian man took the stage. Our tickets said his name was Kishi Bashi–he’s in Of Montreal but was opening with some amazing looped solo material on a violin. As soon as the second song kicked in, everybody was paying attention. This guy was the real deal, “The Asian Jeff Buckley” said Brittany.
That’s when it happened. There I was, watching this Kishi Bashi turn everybody on, when suddenly he got a little dimmer. My brain was flickering and everything was getting soft. I knew the feeling. In fifth grade I fainted during a chorus class and two years later I passed out during communion at church camp. This was looking like faint number three.
I leaned over to Brittany. Sweet, oblivious, fully-conscious Brittany. “I think I might faint,” I said cooly. “I’m just going to kneel down here and put my head between my knees.” Did I mention how good the spots were? And how I had been hyping this concert for months? I was NOT about to just up and leave.
So there I knelt. Surrounded by a forest of legs, with my head tucked between my knees. I shut my eyes tight and tried to fight off the impending loss of consciousness. But this baby was coming whether I liked it not. I had to get out of there and do it fast.
When I popped back up I leaned again to Brittany. “Nope, I’m definitely going to faint. I have to get out of here.” She looked concerned. “Where do you want to go?” she asked. “Anywhere. Just. Out,” I mumbled. She turned and I grabbed onto her shoulders for dear life. As she navigated the thick sea of people, all jamming on Kishi Bashi, I lay my light head on her protective shoulders and fainted.
I kept just enough consciousness to shuffle my feet behind her and think to myself “Jesus, how long does it TAKE?” We sat down against a wall behind the crowd, where a bearded, long-haired concert guy rushed up to us. “What’s goin’ on guys?” he asked. “He just fainted,” said Brittany. “You been drinking tonight sir?” he asked me. I bubbled out something about yes and no, see, I drank this Red Bull and vodka earlier, but it’s not like I’ve actually been drinking, and Red Bull and vodka doesn’t make you faint anyway, that doesn’t make any sense, so yes and no.
He seemed to understand whatever it was I told him and transported us downstairs on a tiny, old elevator. We sat down on what can best be described as a horrible wooden church pew, because the two soft, kingly chairs were occupied by a couple of gabby teenagers. Brittany brought a slice of pepperoni pizza (from where? I’ll never know) and a cup of water. Immediately I started assessing the consequences.
“B, you can’t–you have to promise me you’ll go watch Of Montreal without me. You have to. I’ll feel worse if you don’t than you’ll feel if you do. Just–you have to,” I sputtered out. She said she would stay with me as long as it took, and she would miss the show if she had to. I wanted to protest, but fell asleep on her shoulder instead.
The next hour was a series of flashes. “Yeah, sleep it off it’ll be good for you.” “Do you want to lay on the floor? Or?” “Hey look, some girl fainted too. You’re not alone, see?” By 10:30 I was mostly conscious and trying to muster up the energy to see that damn show. Of Montreal was coming on at 11:00 and I wasn’t about to miss them.
“Ok. Let’s go. I’m good.” I said suddenly, definitely not “good” but determined to go. Brittany was hesitant, but I insisted. Within 15 minutes we were back in the crowd. We were on the left side, about 40 rows back; not the best spots. I was OK, things were improving. Just after 11 the lights went down and Of Montreal treated the crowd to a spectacular glam rock show, complete with giant arms, projectors and pig men. Classic.
By the encore, we were back to about five rows back, just to the left, thanks to some fantastic crowd navigation on Brittany’s part. Sure, we missed the rest of Kishi Bashi and all of Deerhoof, and we lost our primo spots, but it wasn’t really that bad in the end. Was it worse than what we had hoped for and tweeted about, only a few hours earlier? Of course it was. But it wasn’t bad, dammit, and that’s something to be proud of.
After all, now I can relate to those young Elvis fans who simply passed out in his presence. My Elvis was a talented Asian Jeff Buckley, and I don’t have any reason for fainting, but we share a common thread: We both made complete asses of ourselves in front of a crowd of people. I feel you, fainting girls of the ’60s, I really do.