Sunday, June 12, 2011

Sounds: Mumford & Sons

Mumford & Sons, Cake, Nathaniel Rateliff, Matthew and the Atlas: The City Market, Kansas City, Missouri, June 3, 2011

"At times it feels like music is an excuse to be a human. It feels like people need that excuse to go and put their arms in the air and sing their hearts out."-- Marcus Mumford

Going to a live show, a good live show, is like coming home after a long trip, I feel loved and understood and beautiful.  I will be forever grateful for bands that not only create good music but also perform live and tour and share it with the world. To be up there on a stage, in front of people,  so raw and vulnerable I feel is one of the bravest things a person can do. Discovering music, all kinds of music, growing up was like finding a decoder ring for all the stories going on inside and outside of me.  And then going to shows and discovering that other people speak  this secret language, was, honestly,  life changing. In quiet dark moments when you feel that you are all alone in the world, music lets you know that you aren’t, that there is someone out there feeling the exact same way as you, the very second.

 In my life, music has become almost a higher  language, a language that communicates the human story, beauty and sadness alike and my story, feelings , emotions when words by themselves just aren’t sufficient enough.   That is why I rarely give a second thought about flying across country to see musical groups or saving money to buy concert ticket by eating  peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for two weeks straight. In my budget, music is as a necessity as toothpaste and clean water.

On my recent trip home, I was able to go to a pretty amazing show, concert, gig if you will.  

(Caveat: Taking pictures at shows tends to difficult.  Technically speaking, the crowd is moving, the band is moving, you only have a point and shoot camera that doesn’t have  a good zoom and some random guy will also find a way to stand right in front of your camera just before what would have been the perfect shot.  Emotionally speaking, you want to capture and trap little moments where all the world is right at the same time that you just want to shut your eyes and feel the music.  But I also want to brag, in a crowd of about 10,000 we were like 4 people away from the stage.)

Matthew and The Atlas, hailing from the UK was the first band up. My favorite description of them:  [Matthew Hegarty's] voice is the thing; it sounds a hundred years old and is etched with all the heartache and weariness that implies.  Please go listen to them, they are really quite lovely. There were technical problems with their monitors, meaning that they couldn’t hear much of what they were producing.  At one point the accordionist asked the crowd how they sounded. And of course, of course, I yelled back, “More Accordion!!” And I was heard since, he replied, “Did someone say more accordion? That is always the right answer.” Yes, my friend,  it is.

Second up was a Nathaniel Rateliff,  a Missouri bred songwriter with an amazing voice. For the last song, and to joy of the crowd, he was joined on stage by Marcus Mumford.

Both of these bands are part of Communion.  It is a flourishing community of musicians and fans, largely in the UK, that come together to cultivate and champion honest, independent, good music. And doesn't the world need more of that.

Then came Cake, who is not touring with the rest of the bands. Talented in their own right, but felt a little odd with the rest of the line-up and it felt like their heart really wasn't into it that night.

Headlining was Mumford & Sons from England. Last Christmas I gave their album, Sigh No More, to several people as gifts and one friend asked me when and where I first heard of them, and honestly I can’t remember. They are one of those bands that you feel like you have always known. However, this was my first time seeing them live and two things stood out to me. Ok, three things is you count how brilliant the music was. 

First, how humble they were, they wanted to make a honest connection to audience  almost like they needed to show us  that they were there for us as much as we were there for them. I love when bands do this, and not all bands do. It allows the audience to feel like we are part of something enduring rather than just observers in a trend.  

The second thing, is how happy they were performing, almost to the point of being giddy. It is inspiring to see people who are doing what they love, and in a very real sense, what they were created to do. It made me think about what are my passions and loves in life, and if am I really going after them with all the blood sweat and tears that they deserve. 

That warm night in the middle of downtown Kansas City was a needed therapy session and made me, again realize that much of the beauty our human experience is sharing ourselves, our stories with others.  We all need to do that more.

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