Monday, July 14, 2008

The Space Between

I love music.

I always have.

It's been my best friend/boyfriend/life coach for many a year. It's is one of those things that helps me feel a little bit less lonely when the feeling creeps up.

I'm a huge fan of live music and especially of live music by the singer/songwriter types. I'm a puddle for an honest piano and literate lyric. Consequently, one of my favorite places in the entirety of LA is a little place on Cahuenga called The Hotel Cafe. It's a music club that’s a singer/songwriter zone only; little, intimate, quality and 1000% awesome.

I love it. I'd work there if I could, for free even. That way I could be there chronically, frequently, and often. This last Friday one of my favorites was playing. Greg Laswell - he was releasing his new album (Three Flights from Alto Nido - go get it right now right now. You'll thank me and bless my future children. Buy them trusts even. It's that good.) and he was having the release show & party there. Needless to say, Patrick (my partner in musical crime) and I were some of the first people in the door.

Greg is awesome. He’s been on my iMeem list for the last year and a half but I hadn't seen him live until the Hotel Cafe Tour show in April. I was a bit nervous to see him because sounding good on an album is one thing, and I really liked his album work, but I bank my love and devotion on live performances. He totally delivered. He's money, absolutle money. He's a rare bird and on the favorite list for this reason; he's a brilliant song writer that is an honest performer. It's a transfiguring experience to see him perform. You just get sucked into the song, launch, and hover above yourself and your life for a few brilliant minutes. It's indescribable.

I know I'm getting caught up in Lizisms, sorry....

Honest Performance -

I think there are a lot of amazing songs out there that aren't necessarily honestly performed. Ex: Jewel. She’s an amazing writer, but there is a dissonance between the sobriety of her writing and gravity of her meaning and the uppityness of her music. read: me-no-likey.

Contrastingly, I think a perfect example of someone who is completely honest in writing and performance is Tori Amos. There is total union between her music and her poetry in my opinion. There are myriads of others too but shes the first one that comes to mind

I mean, there are bad songs that are honestly performed. Like, I totally believe that the Pussycat Dolls really did want to drive nice cars and have boobies when they grew up, I could just give a damn. Usher really DOES want to make love in that club, but like I said....

Back to Greg-
He is beloved because I think about his stuff. I see his images and relate them to things outside of my iPod. They harrow ideas and memories out of me that typically I don't take out. And sometimes I swear he has peeked into my brain because so many of his images and ideas are intimately familiar to me. Especially June bugs.

**btw: This blog isn't an attempt to get on Greg's street team, I just can't explain the "Space Between" epiphany I had at that show without this slight background**

Patrick, myself, and a few other friends who share our neurosis about meaning have debated over his songs in the past and our current email discussion was regarding one off of his EP, "Salvation, Dear". We all had different ideas where he was coming from and why and were all kind of locked in the folded arm "I'm right" stance.

Q:How awesome is this music if it gets 4 totally different people recreationally discussing meaning?! That don't have the English major reflex like me?
A: very.

Back to the show -

When we were walking in from the valet Greg was coming around the corner and simultaneously Patrick and I thought, "There he is, lets ask him about it!"

Not "ohhmigoshhohhmigoshhohhmigoshh - It's Greg Laswell, maybe he'll sign a CD. " No, we wanted to talk about lyrics. We're geeks. We know. We own it. We love it. That's what family is about.

He was trying to get situated for the show and stuff, but he was insanely cool and stopped and listened to this 6' 4" red head and chubby brunette burble on about speakers and POV and motivation. He was really excited to talk about it too - more cool points. Actually Patrick ran the approach and I joined when it looked like a discussion and not just an over the shoulder hallway conversation. I was trying to be respectful. First rule of LA culture: don't harass or approach the talent. Anyway, I don't think he was anticipating the fire hydrant of questions Patrick and I had.

And honestly, it's an intensely personal song about not being ready for a relationship and our questions were along the lines of "Why weren't you ready? What were your reasons for turning away happiness?" and he gave a polite non-revelatory answer like "I wasn't ready for something and she was so I had to let her go" and that was about it. Then he went on to let us know that his guitar player was about to go on and thanked us for coming out etc.

So as we were walking away Patrick said "Well that explains everything" and I said "What are you talking about? He didn't explain a single thing."

And in all honesty, if two complete and utter strangers had came up to me and asked me to spill my guts about an amazingly painful time in my life I'd start talking about the weather and conditions of the roads as well.

What was fascinating to me (more than the song in question obviously) and what I was in my head about the rest of the night, was the difference in idealistic space crashing together in the physical space between me and Greg. It was like this 18" wide weather system of realities. This was my first time meeting the guy and shaking hands and discussing his work and all that. As a fan I had this really solidified idea of him that I had gleaned and pieced together from his music. What his life has been about, what he must think, his candor about his experiences etc. But seeing him there (he’s much shorter than I imagined) and hearing him speak to things and getting that other 90% of human communication of body language, was someone completely different.

He went from Greg Laswell the idea or voice out of a box, to Greg Laswell, the whiskey drinking guy that forgot to wash his shirt that morning (because he did). There was this precious space between my understanding of the guy and what he wanted me to understand him as that crashed and meet in the foot and a half between us.

The relationship between artist, art and viewer has been debated since the beginning of time, I know. I'm painfully unoriginal, but it’s such an experience, such a mental deflowering, but not in a bad way.

I wasn't let down at all or disgusted by his not knowing me as well as I felt I knew him or being as open as I hoped. That he didn't connect with me like I had connected with him. I mean, I wanted to know why he wrote that song and what he was thinking, but after 30 seconds i knew he wasn't going to really tell me. He was a genuinely pleasant and awesome guy, patient too. Patrick and I have to be quite an experience and getting blindsided by one of us, much less both.... well - it takes a champ.

I'm sure artists deal with that disadvantage of perceived intimacy all the time. It’s got to try your sense of reality after awhile. I don't envy them a jot but I am grateful for ones like Greg.

The show was phenomenal, swelteringly hot, but worth every lost electrolyte.

Seeing Elijah Wood at the valet, Evangeline Lily at the bar and actually briefly meeting Dominic Monaghan was icing on the night.

Man I love LA, and despite it not being very comfortable, I love the Space Between. It keeps me alive you know; feeling, thinking, and wondering. That's art. That's what it’s all about and it’s a realigning experience I hope to have over and over again.

So - see you at The Hotel Cafe next week?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

OMFG!!!!! You met Elijah Wood???? *octaves*

Heh. Like my needle-in-the-haystack attention? I fit in in Europe. Happy 40 minutes past birthday baby!