Tuesday, May 27, 2014
Gotta love those Peak Experiences
In late April I went to Brisbane to see a concert. Not just any concert. It was more of a pilgrimage come to think of it. You know how sometimes there is a band or a song or solo artist that seems to speak to you? You listen to them/it and you feel the lyrics in your gut, your heart, your soul. The words inspire you to be better. The music makes you want to move your body. Even if the lyrics are dead serious, the music still makes you feel uplifted or energized.
I was introduced to this artist well into his music career. I was in a happy place. Mabel Lake. A couple hours north of Kelowna, B.C. at my brother's cottage. The cottage is a TV free zone, other than a collection of movie DVDs, there is no cable or TV antenna. There is no phone line. If you want to connect to the world, you have to walk (or drive) to the marina store. I tell you all of this to explain why music is an important part of the vibe there. It is an eclectic collection of old and new. The first time I visited the family (the fun part of my family according to my daughter), we sat around the big kitchen table the first night, playing cards, board games, consuming a few bevvies (natch) and my bro put on a CD I had never heard before.
With all the chatter and shenanigans going on around me, the music, playing moderately loud, immediately resonated with me. I asked who it was. My bro looked at me incredulously. You've never heard Michael Franti? I had not. I found myself actually needing to move my body. I was glad when I was able to rotate out of the game we were playing and found myself in the kitchen dancing as though it was the only thing in the world to do. Without question, this was the beginning of my love affair with this music. A little bit reggae, a little bit hip hop, a little bit folk, a little bit rock. Just a great combination of meaningful lyrics (he is a poet too) and the kind of dance beat I gravitate toward.
They only had one of his CDs. Yell Fire. It became the anthem at the cottage over the next couple of years. A Mable Lake weekend could not officially start until Michael Franti blasted out from the stereo. That, and a cold beer. We listened to it in the morning. We took it out on the boat and blasted it in the middle of the lake (no wonder we could not catch a fish). We cranked it up at cocktail hour. Then once more for good measure after dinner when the games would commence. No one tired of it. So, the last time I was at the lake, we all agreed that if he was ever performing anywhere near, we would have to go see him. When I heard he was going to be in Brisbane, I was stoked, but sad that the whole gang would not be able to go. It was going to be up to me to represent the family.
I hooked up with Steve's niece who lives there and the two of us set off to see the concert. An odd couple in many ways as I am twice her age, but somehow, even that made sense. She was not as familiar with his music, but was open, and that is all you really need to be. I was not sure what to expect. The venue was smallish and intimate. The Tivoli, an old theatre, was exactly the type of space for him and the crowd. Standing only. A bar. It was more club-like and the atmosphere was perfect for what was about to happen. The warm up band was, not surprisingly, very capable of holding their own. Nahko and Medicine for the People came out rocking. In no time at all the room was buzzing. They were the perfect pre-cursor to the main event.
What took place next was like something I had never experienced at a concert in my life. Within seconds everyone was moving. Hands up, bouncing, jumping, singing along. The entire crowd seemed, dare I say it...as one. It was the most overwhelming feeling of unity. We all loved his music, his energy was contagious. The air was thick with positivity. Everyone was smiling. Every soul in that room was on the same page. It felt like the kind of collective energy that could move mountains. Had we all drank the same Kool-aid? If we had, I did not care. I wanted it to last forever. He was like some kind of happy messiah working his way through the crowd, dancing, singing, hugging people. We all wanted a piece of him. I touched him a couple times in passing, his sweat-soaked t-shirt against my palm, a sticky moist souvenir I wanted to take home. Maybe his DNA would infuse me somehow. Who would not want to catch whatever it is he has?
At the end of the 'party", my young friend turned to me and said, "Wow, I have never been to a concert like that before. What just happened there?" We were both smiling, soaked with sweat, energized after about 2 hours of non-stop dancing and a little bit stunned. It was like we had all just experienced a significant shift. And it felt like love.
One great big musical orgasm.
The power of art.