Earlier this year, I wrote about a pretty amazing local music experience: my first SOFAR show. It was really incredible, and it introduced me to some great new artists (whom I now follow on their respective Facebook and Twitter pages, hoping to catch another local tour date from any or all of them).
I was incredibly fortunate to be placed on the guest list again when SOFAR came back to Denton this past weekend. But, before I get to the house show portion of my weekend, let me first mention that the previous evening I had been to the Kessler Theater in Dallas to see one of my very favorite bands: Seryn.
Wait, I have to back up one more time.
When my best friend was in town for her birthday in August, I introduced her to Seryn as we were driving around being fabulous. She immediately bought their CD, and I mentioned how badly I wanted the album on vinyl. Fast forward to a few weeks ago, when I get a text message from a friend I haven't seen in person in years.
Ann asked me if I could have lunch any time soon, because she had something for me. Now, I knew from her Facebook page that she was best friends with the folks in Seryn. What I did not know was that she is now working for the band. She had noticed that my BFF had ordered my birthday gifts from the Seryn website, but, since they were backordered, she wanted to help in any way she could to get them to me in time for my birthday. The gifts were a Seryn t-shirt (most comfortable t-shirt ever, btw) and....
Seryn's album on vinyl! Do you think I was excited? I'm not saying I cried...but I'm not saying I didn't.
As a birthday gift to me, Ann got me a ticket to see Seryn at the Kessler on October 13th. Did I cry again? Maybe a little. I'm not ashamed...it was incredibly kind and generous of BOTH my friends, and it made me feel very loved!
So, now we're back to the Kessler show.
Julia Sinclair opened the evening. Ho. Lee. Crap. This tiny little thing came out and completely owned all of us with her personality and huge voice.
I tweeted during the show that she had an amazing quirky quality like Regina Spektor, but amazing pipes a la Brandi Carlile. Can I just say, I love it when artists read and respond to tweets? It shows me how much they care about what their fans are saying!
Definitely check out her stuff. She's amazing. Here's a YouTube video of her singing "Lies."
Next up was Marcus Foster, an incredible performer from London. This guy...I knew he was going to blow my mind within the first 8 bars. He's got this incredible voice...reminded me of Glen Hansard (not his Swell Season stuff, but more of his solo work) and sometimes Ray LaMontagne (mostly in his ballads...my favorite of which was "Solid Ground," a track from his "The Last House" EP, which will be released next week!).
Here's a pretty good fan video of Marcus singing "Solid Ground" I found on YouTube. I was chatting with Marcus at the Sofar show, and was excited to hear that he will be back in the US touring sooner rather than later!
Next up was SERYN.
The thing about Seryn...for me...they totally ninja-ed their way into my brain. A wonderful friend shared them with me months ago, and I incorporated them into my iTunes shuffle. Then one day, I found myself skipping around to find their songs intentionally. Then I just sat and listened to the whole thing while working and...well, I wasn't working. I was sitting and staring off into space listening to the intricately layered instrumentation and vocals.
They became my happy-place music.
Any time I felt any anxiety or stress, or if I couldn't turn my brain off and fall asleep, I put on Seryn.
The show at the Kessler...it was just perfect timing. There's been a lot going on in my mind and heart lately, as I posted about recently. I was building up to a desperately-needed catharsis, and was about to just cue up the Betty Spaghetti's husband scene in "A League of Their Own" just so I could get the damn ugly cry out and have done with it.
(Come on, I know you have that ONE THING you watch/listen to when you need a good cry. Right? No? Just me? Okay.)
The Seryn experience I had on Friday night was....you know, I'm still having trouble finding the right words to accurately describe it. I've heard that they're so much more live than they are on a recording, and that is a fact.
During the intro to my favorite song of theirs, Nathan (the guitarist with the Epic Ginger Beard of Awesome) shared some things about the song with the audience, and mentioned that everyone who was supposed to be there that night was there. He believed it was all happening just like it should be happening, in that moment in that venue.
The whole set was surreal. I tweeted at one point, "I think I may actually be in Heaven right now. If I am, please don't send me back yet."
I don't know enough about the band members to speak to their faith or spirituality, but I can tell you that I personally felt the Holy Spirit in the room as I experienced their set. Not heard, their set....experienced. Because it was a multi-sensory experience, and I felt emotionally cleansed when it was over.
Exhausted and, yes, shaking in my hands and legs, but cleansed.
I drove home and reflected on the amazing music I'd heard that night, and I slept better than I have in a long time. The next day, I had a meeting up at the theatre, and then, at lunch with my husband, I was reading through my Twitter feed and deduced that I was going to get to see ALL THREE ACTS AGAIN in the intimate, acoustic environment that SOFAR provides.
I arrived at an absolutely beautiful home in Denton, found my friend Melissa, and told her how excited I was for HER to get to experience her first SOFAR show!
The first group up was an adorable husband-and-wife duo called The OnesYou Loved. (Doesn't he kind of remind you of Jim Sturgess??) Unfortunately they couldn't stay long, due to a CD-release party/concert they had to get to, but I really enjoyed hearing them play.
Next up -- YOU GUESSED IT. I got to see Julia, Marcus, AND Seryn all play again in a completely different environment than the night before, with a beautiful landscape and a blustery October afternoon as the backdrop.
Afterwards I found my friend Ann again to thank her profusely, and she was so excited that I'd gotten to see Seryn twice in one weekend. I'd been posting on Facebook about the SOFAR concert, and she managed to keep quiet about it so that I could be surprised. She introduced me to Nathan, who was a doll, and of course I had to get a picture because...well, gingers have to stick together whenever possible.
I asked Ann, "Does it ever get old, hearing them play? I mean, is it ever NOT completely spellbinding?" I was so pleased to hear her answer "No." I am so grateful to Ann for the opportunity to see Seryn at the Kessler, and to Joanna and Polly and all the rest of the SOFAR crew for putting me on the invite list again.
I'm sad to say that there were many people who apparently just did not show up to this SOFAR performance. I mean, it gave the rest of us an even more intimate environment (not to mention plenty of leg room), but I just wish that more people could've gotten to experience what we did that afternoon.
I spent some time chatting with Julia and Marcus afterwards, too, and they were so incredibly gracious! Julia had one of those fancy-shmancy iPhone squares so that I could buy her CD, but, since I didn't have any cash, I got Marcus to sign one of his promotional cards for me. Look! He loves Texas!
It was an amazing 48 hours of music, and I'm so grateful to Ann, the SOFAR crew, the amazing hosts who opened up their beautiful home to us, and of course, especially the musicians.
It was truly an unforgettable weekend.