More fleshed out thoughts on other musical works to come later, but here are some small blurbs on things that have tickled my fancy lately.
I almost met Carly Rae Jepsen last night. I could have met Carly Rae Jepsen last night. I had the chance, possibly two, possibly three. And I didn’t take it.
The company I’ve been working for this summer manages Walk The Moon, a competent and likable enough indie pop group from Ohio. Last night they were supporting Panic! At the Disco at Madison Square Garden Theater, and the company got tickets for my co-workers and me. I arrived early and sat in my assigned seat; my co-workers trickled in throughout the night. First up was Magic Man (whose recent debut record I found totally boring and totally derivative), and next was Walk The Moon (who put on an great set that endeared me to them, despite the lead singer sporting a mullet).
And then, after Walk the Moon left the stage, the lights went up, and I saw three people walking up the aisle looking for their seats. The person in the middle had a VIP pass around her neck, and had an eerily familiar, youthful face framed by light brown bangs. My eyes widened; I knew exactly who it was. It couldn’t be. What would she be doing at a Panic! concert? And why would she come out to the general audience to watch them? And why did no one else in the quite young crowd notice her? My heart rate doubled as she and her two pals — a woman who sort of resembled her, and a taller, burly man who I suspected was her boyfriend — made their way to the seats: exactly two rows in front of me.
I wanted so badly to talk to her, to tell her that I love her, and that I loved her album, and I love her artistry. I wanted to take a picture with her, so I could always remember that night. As my co-workers and I schemed of how to approach her when the concert ended, a series of fears ran through my mind: 1) what if it was not Carly, and I ended up weirding out an innocent woman; 2) what if her maybe-boyfriend didn’t want me talking to her and making a scene around all these people; 3) what if she left before I had the chance to talk to her. The fears cycled through in a sequence, as they usually do when I am facing a personal challenge. Fortunately, I took care of the first fear, and craftily; I spotted the Carly-maybe taking an Instagram photo of the stage. I whipped out my phone and searched her profile on Instagram. Sure enough, it was her. The second fear subsided over time — what would he do, rough me up? — but the third was the most persistent. Panic! At the Disco played for an agonizing eighty minutes, and after each song I tensed up, worried that Carly and her cohort would leave the show early. There was no use trying to talk to her in between songs. There was not enough time, it was too loud, and it would have been rude to distract her from the concert and her maybe-boyfriend. But if I could catch her right as the concert ended and say what I wanted to say without making a scene…
Panic! returned for a two-song encore. The crowd screamed when Brendon Urie announced that the last number would be their biggest hit, “I Write Sins, Not Tragedies.” I screamed along as well, though that had nothing to do with the song; I knew it was the last song, and within minutes I would need to spring into action, my phone’s camera at the ready, the lines rehearsed over and over in my head (“Hi, uh, Carly? I just wanted to say I’m a big fan and I love you so much… Do you mind if I take a photo with you? I totally understand if not, I know it’s really crowded…”). I shivered with anxiety. I danced awkwardly to the music, trying to expend the nervous energy. And then, as Brendon, wearing nothing but skin-tight leather pants, launched into the last chorus, I saw Carly Rae Jepsen, her friend, and her maybe-boyfriend swiftly walk toward the aisle. I saw them preparing to go. I was standing at the end of the row, ready to give chase. My eyes followed them to the aisle. I hesitated, and only as they started to walk down the steps did I half-heartedly run after them for just a few paces, yelling, “Carly!” at a volume so trumped by the screaming fans and Brendon’s wailing that I barely heard myself say it. I was too late: within seconds, Carly Rae Jepsen had disappeared into the throng, well on her way back to the exclusive backstage area.
When the lights came up, I slumped down in my seat. My friends were gushing over the show; they saw my expression and realized that she’d gone. They didn’t quite know how to treat the situation; they alternated between sour grapes appeals (“She probably sucks, anyway!”) and tough love (“You were right there!”) and sincere consoling (“That sucks”; “I’m so sorry”). I couldn’t hide how heartbroken I was. With each of their attempts to connect, I tried to deflect with a joke; each time I would just end up staring into the middle distance, wondering what I had just done, hating myself over and over again.
It felt oddly familiar, the sense of disappointment, but never had it felt so strong. It was a cold reminder of a problem I feel I’ve had for a long time; being too shy to do something for myself, especially when that involves interacting with another person. Asking someone on a date; asking for help on a project or life; being honest if something is troubling me; saying hi to a person I admire. When this happens, I hide that shyness with a veneer of conscientiousness. I’m just being considerate, is all: I don’t want to make someone feel uncomfortable; they probably don’t want to talk to me; she just wants to enjoy a concert and not be swarmed by fans. But being stopped by my own lack of courage really hit hard that night, and had me fearing that this problem will stay with me for a long time; that I’ll be too shy to ask someone to be in a relationship, or contact venues to perform in, or ask someone for a job. It feels dramatic to envision these scenarios, but sitting in that seat, twisting up my mouth as the security guard asked me to leave, I realized that this problem, for the first time, had gotten in the way of something I really, really wanted.