Live Music

Part 1: “I’ll see you on the other end.”

It’s like coming home.  Walking into that room and before I can even see inside Greg Bell is saying “Hey Charles” as if he just saw me yesterday.  It’s like a family reunion.  People you love but only want to see once in a while.

Greg Larson is extremely talented.  He’s always had an ear for tonality but constantly fights it with his desire to be new school, and he also has a touch of over-sentimentality.  But he can play the fuck out of a trombone.  He plays two sets.  His piano player is unsurprisingly better than me.  Most of it is standard hard bop, a few latin tunes, mostly standards.  The first set is by far the best.  Two moments stand out to me.

While We’re Young by Alec Wilder – solo trombone with piano accompaniment.  This is Greg at his best.  No counter melodies, no clever drum backbeast, just a subtle, understated harmonic structure and Greg exploring the space.  He always hits one or two notes that I never would have imagined given the chord changes but they work perfectly and I’m left shaking my head.  Every time.

Greg’s comedic timing reminds me of David Letterman.  Maybe a bit more awkward.  I’m very jealous of him.  I imagine that he too is jealous of me, but he probably isn’t.

Dindi by Antonio Carlos Jobim starts out normally but before I know it, Greg is singing, and he’s good. Like really good.  Chet Baker meets Michael Franks good.  He doesn’t sound like Greg at all.  If you know Greg’s spoken voice, you’ll understand that it doesn’t seem like it would translate well to song, but it does.  These two moments make me feel like Greg wouldn’t be out of place on a Chet Baker style jazz album.  Greg Larson Sings and Plays.  Too pretentious?  Probably.

Conner is taller and fatter.  Jake Sand’s hair is longer.  But everything else is exactly the same.

“Charles,  where are you living and what are you doing?” – Susan Larson.

Where am I living? Here.  Nowhere.  Everywhere.  In Korea.  In my mind.  at 525 19th Ave.  At 509 Olive Way.  At my parents house.  At Jen’s house.  At Greg’s house.  At my sister’s house.

What am I doing? Nothing.

Part 2: “You used to have all the answers”

The XX is about to play when I show up at the Showbox Sodo.  The crowd is already chanting and screaming and I find my sister and her friends Debbie and what’s-his-name and I find Angie lurking in a corner as well as Angie’s roommate Stephanie and Scott Dudgeon.  This venue is big.  Bigger than I expected, but it makes sense given how fast the last show sold out.  The XX must be touring a lot.  They’ve been to Seattle twice in 5 months and are going to be at the Gorge on Memorial Day.

The XX’s music is best experienced alone or with one other person, depending on what you’re doing, but we’re standing in a room packed between what looks like a few thousand other people.

“So Charlie, what’s your story?” – Debbie

“I’m Kara’s brother.  Sometimes I come take care of her dog when she’s out of town.”

The XX’s music makes me feel like I’m running my fingers over the contours of someone’s body, lying in a sweaty room after sex.  It’s dark and moody and over-sentimental and the lyrics are something you’d say to someone you passed a note in High School chemistry class if you were breaking up, or gotten back together, or had a torrid affair.

“Hot.  Like.  Fire.”

I understand what you’re saying and I understand why you’re saying it.  It’s logical and probably best and what I’d recommend if someone else was in the same situation.  Every time someone asks, I tell them what you say and what I agree to and they say “yeah, that’s probably best” and nod sagely, maybe admiringly, maybe skeptically.  I understand.  I concur.  I agree.  I’m standing in the middle of a thousand people, in the middle of 6 billion people, and you’re on the exact opposite side, and you’re shouting that you care about me and you don’t want to hurt me, and that’s absolutely the right thing to say, but all I hear is “You’re not worth waiting for.”

In the middle of a thousand people, in the middle of 6 billion people, in the middle of a room full of strangers, I’m back where I’ve always been.  Afraid to move but sad standing still.


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