Last week, I stumbled upon a very cool skateboarding video, Altered Route with Kilian Martin. Did you know that about me? That I love watching skateboarders? And surfers? I can’t tell you how many times I’ve watched Dogtown and Z-Boys or YouTube videos on loops (Laird Hamilton, you slay me!), truth be told. The mesmerizing click and roll of wheels on pavement, hands skimming air and water, the ceaseless rolling of waves, I am dazzled and awed at what bodies can do, so much and so beautifully, against gravity and odds and nature. Anyhoo, the video had the sweetest song playing, very atypical of what most would consider skateboarding music. Patrick Watson, “Adventures in Your Own Backyard.” I couldn’t get it out of my head, this stirring sound, so I bought the album and a couple of other songs and started playing them on a loop while I wrote.
Then, when that was not enough, I went to Patrick Watson’s website and clicked around, pushing the concert button to find the band would be in town in four short days. Tickets still available. Click-boom! The hubster and I were go-ing. Yup, yup.
We arrived at The Mission Theater to very little fanfare, hardly a line, a table steps from the small stage. The opening band, Cat Martino, was sweet, her voice very fine, with a slight eighties vibe, and Cat’s band mate Sven (who totally reminded us of Zach, Maren!) with some of the coolest tattoos I’ve ever seen – small birds flying all over the right side of his body. I love that kind of thought.
Then it was time for the main attraction. The theater went completely dark and Patrick Watson came out, each with two or three small lights attached to their fingers. They played “Lighthouse” (pretty sure), which starts with Patrick playing softly on the piano and singing before being joined by the rest of the band – a violin (Melanie Blair), a guitar (Simon Angell), a bass (Mishka Stein), and drums (Robbie Kuster), building and building to this marvelous explosion of sound.
And that was only the beginning.
I’ve seen a lot of shows in my time, many in venues like this one, two hundred people gathered around a stage. But those small spaces had nothing to do with the intimacy of the show. Last night, we were part of something, transported elsewhere, our collective souls stirred into one. It was tender, silly, raucous, rakish, and laugh out loud funny, and we were all in it together. Dazzlingly simple, too, a string of patio lights and long shadows cast, minstrel-style, upon the ceiling and walls.
Then there was the singing. The hypnotizing guitar and bass. The haunting violin. The dynamic drumming. A whole song, “Into Giants,” I think, when the band came into the audience, no amplification, standing single file, Patrick right in front of me, Mishka’s tattoo peeking from his t-shirted arm while he strummed the guitar, so close I could have lifted the sleeve and revealed its secret. They sang and stomped so powerfully that Robbie might as well have been playing the drums.
M A G I C A L. Really and truly. The best show of my life, and I yelled it out the window of the Mini as we zoomed home, Patrick smoking a cigarette on the corner. Yeah, that was me. And since the band hails from Montreal, I gotta say, “Merci mille fois!”