When You’re Singing That Song

Last Wednesday I had the absolute pleasure of seeing Vance Joy perform on his “Fire and the Flood Tour” at the Paramount Theater in Seattle. By the end of the second song, I realized I would have paid good money to hear that man sing “The Itsy Bitsy Spider” along a freeway’s questionable rest stop. You know, the ones with free ‘coffee’ and those expired shortbread cookies? He could sit perched atop a garbage can with his ukulele and sing with the cars flying by and my heart would still skip the occasional beat. So I mean I guess I could say the concert was all right…

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First off, if you’ve never been to the Paramount you should know it’s beautiful. I hadn’t been since seeing Broadway’s “The Lion King” in elementary school with my mom and while it felt much smaller than my second grade memory had prompted, it didn’t feel any less grand. Its architecture is beautiful and helped to set the ambiance for a memorable evening. Having been to concerts in both large arenas and small bars, The Paramount holds a nice middle ground between impressive and intimate.

 

Jamie Lawson, whom I was not previously familiar with, opened before Elle King and he was simply fantastic. Armed with only his guitar and voice, he gave a wonderful performance and had a stage presence making him likable and humble. Jamie Lawson, you’ve found yourself a new fan and I look forward to hearing more of your music. To those of you haven’t been acquainted with his talent, check him out- my favorites are “Wasn’t Expecting That,” “The Only Conclusion,” “Still Yours,” and “Don’t Let Me Let You Go.”

One of the first thoughts to cross my mind after walking out of the Paramount at the end of the night, was basically that I want to be Elle King’s best friend. From what I was able to determine from where I’d wedged myself near the front and center of the stage, she’s hilarious, incredibly talented, and in the best sense of the word, cool. I’m sure if I’d been able to sit down and have a beer with her before the show my suspicions would have been confirmed. Seeing someone pour their soul into their passion is one of the most beautiful things we can witness on this planet and that’s what Elle gave us.

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And then there was Vance Joy himself. Opening with “Mess is Mine,” I knew I was in for a treat. I wasn’t concerned about him playing my favorites, because honestly there’s not a song of his that I don’t like, but I was especially over the moon when I heard the first chords of “From Afar,” and “Red Eye.” There’s no denying the man is talented, and hearing his melodies in the flesh was chilling. I spent the show in a happy sort of reverie, enraptured by what I was experiencing, and as soon as he walked off the stage after the encore, I was certain that I could have stayed and watched the exact same performance at least three more times.

 

“Riptide” was one of the best songs of the evening, though not necessarily due to the song itself. Don’t get me wrong I do love it, but it was great because everyone knew every single word and the resulting grin on Vance Joy’s face lent the moment a lot of significance. I feel as though some artists tend to get tired of playing their more popular hits, but Vance Joy only seemed energized by the crowd’s recognition of the tune. He had so much fun with it and you were able to see him not as “Vance Joy,” but as James Keogh, a real person who appeared to have the full appreciation and understanding that he was living his dream. It seems backwards but sometimes being able to see someone as no more than a person is the most enchanting thing you can ask for.

So thank you Vance Joy, Elle King, and Jamie Lawson for laying your hearts on the stage and sharing your talents; witnessing your love for the music of life was truly a gift.

Miles and Smiles

When I joined the cross-country team my freshman year of high school, several unprecedented things occurred. Primarily, and perhaps most surprising, I developed an appreciation for running that’s lasted well beyond high school. Eight years later, I’ve signed up for my first half marathon: The Lake Sammamish Half.

Recently, for reasons I cannot fully explain, running 13.1 miles has seemed like a good idea. I’m sure after two hours of continuous movement, I’ll reconsider this thought process, but for the time being, pushing myself to a limit I’ve never reached is attractive. I’ve got exactly one month to go, and while I’m starting to get excited, I’m also pretty nervous, so to all those long distance runners out there, if you’ve got any tips they’ll be met with gratitude.

This experience has been quite the journey. I think that’s one of the reasons I like the idea of running; what a beautiful metaphor for life. You get out of it what you put in to it, seeing results only if you make the effort to achieve them, there are hills you need to climb, some days are easier, others are more challenging, but in the grand scheme of things you’re moving forward. Often the hardest part of anything is the start, and there is so much to be said for the difference between remaining static in this life or putting your self in motion… the whole concept of running encapsulates this.

Those naysayers who argue logging the miles is practically pointless because you’re haven’t actually gone anywhere, or you start in the exact same place you begin, clearly have not thought it all the way through. Running circles around my neighborhood, starting at my house to arrive back there a half hour or so later, has changed me immensely. In short terms, putting me in a better mood for the day, but also in longer terms. Both mentally and physically. This activity has the unique ability to leave one feeling empowered, clear minded, exhausted, and strengthened almost simultaneously.

The stress and celebration that was senior year left me exhausted and in some of the worst shape I’ve been in, once again, both mentally and physically. Overwhelmed, unemployed, and unable to run 2 miles without feeling as if imminent death was upon me was entirely frustrating coming off of the bittersweet high of graduation. Six months later with what feels like more than enough sweat and tears to last someone a lifetime, I have a reformed mindset, I’m down 20 pounds, and I can not only run over 10 miles, but I can do so comfortably. Most importantly, I feel better. The changes have come quietly and gradually, but in no circumstances would I consider myself to be in the same place as I started.

I’m not, nor do I believe that I will ever be, the stereotyped idea of a “runner,” but in the past couple months I’ve become more comfortable with the idea that if you love to run, regardless of how far you go, how fast you go, or how good you look doing it, it’s okay to say you’re a runner. I’m eager to try something new, go further than I’ve ever gone before, and cross this off of my bucket list feeling proud and accomplished with it’s completion. In one month I am excited to cross the finish line, look back to the place I started, and say “I did it.”