Friday, September 2, 2011

An evening with Anberlin

Initially I was going to call this post 'The second-best day of my life', but the more I thought about it, the more I realised that the title of the event was perfectly adequate in describing the event, the evening and how I felt about all of it. But it was also probably the second-best day of my life.

The Best day of my life happened about nine years ago in November. It was a stinking hot day and I'd done a walk-thru the Old Testament seminar and post-seminar, asked God to direct my life. I don't have any photos from that day. I cannot actually remember what date it was either. But it was in November, and I highly doubt that anything else I will experience in life will surpass the importance of that day.

Currently, I shall divulge to you the events of last night.

Also, I apologise in advance to those who don't understand my language. I revert back to Brookespeak when heavily fatigued.

The concept started about two weeks ago, after returning from a weekend away with my bible study group. My mind had been wandering, and suddenly ratcheted onto my most-favoured band. This was partly because it was the time of year when they had released albums for the previous three years. I had been thinking, "I wonder if Anberlin will be putting out a new album soon?"

So when we arrived home, I hopped onto their website to check.

I didn't find information on a new album release. But I did find information on a tour.
This prospect was exciting. I had never seen them play live before.
I clicked madly around the site, collecting the data that would tell me whether I could make it or not. An idea formed, and after mulling over it for a couple of days, was sent out to a couple of friends.

Do you want to come and see Anberlin live with me?

Sadly, all requests came back negative. I had previously run the plan past my mother, who had lived and breathed Sydney in her uni days. She said that the Enmore Theatre was small, and that if I wanted to go, I'd have to get a wriggle on.

Eventually I made a snap-decision. I'd done London for six weeks, flaneuring, by myself . Sydney should be no problem. Bookings were made, memberships were entered and I studiously checked the train timetables. I was going and I was going to enjoy it, by jove.

So, with much anticipation, the day drew near. Finally Thursday arrived, and, after dropping in on the classes and errands I needed to run, I headed for the train station and began the trek to Syd's knees.

<<Wow. It is getting late.>>

Arriving at Central, I dropped in long enough to deposit my stuff and meet my roommates. There were two girls from Norway and an American girl who was looking for work. I met one of the Norweigan girls and spoke to her, and the other one I probably woke up when I arrived back from the show. But I'll get to that.

Slightly befuddled by traffic and my shoddy sense of direction, I followed the black-shirted youths that travelled in groups and were murmuring things about live shows, all the time thinking to myself, "Should have brought some water. So thirsty"

Which is of course completely unrelated unless you happened to know that I had been a stupidhead earlier that day and forgotten to take water to drink. Thus, dehydration was getting kind-of, well, bad. This problem was rectified and the blog post moved forward in time and space.

Suddenly, I had finished making my way down Enmore lane and was standing in the line outside the door, clutching a piece of yellow card with my name on it and inwardly cursing the fact that I hadn't strapped my ankle up fully before leaving the backpackers.

Oh, that's right. I'd failed to mention that. My ankles have a tendency to pack it in with minimal provocation. Performing a minor stunt in the car park after church the Sunday before I went had been provocation enough. I'd spent the week with my foot in a pressure bandage.

However, this was not to get in the way of what was ahead. The doorman took part of the ticket and in our line poured. Some people gawped, some walked straight to the stage; some headed to the merchandise stall. I went down to the floor level to observe the surroundings, thinking, "Mum was right. This place is tiny." The size of the venue did not detract in any way from the ten-metre-tall stack of speakers I observed to my right. This was going to be a lot of fun.

It is important to mention at this stage that, after having an inner-turmoil battle-of-the-percieved-stocks-of-merch-table, I went up and purchased a T-shirt and poster. Then I went back down to the D-floor and tried to think of what I could do with them. For once, I'd not taken a bag and instead taken my jacket with 11 pockets. The jacket required some rearranging, but eventually the T-shirt found a pocket. It was only after the line-up band finished that I figured out what to do with the poster.

In the interim before that though, I was stuck with the poster in one hand, thinking, "What kind of idiot goes and buys a poster and then takes it into a mosh pit?"
The idiot in this case was obviously myself.
Holding the poster became less of a problem once it had been tied inside my jacket.

Eventually, the lights went down and that sent up some kind of signal, because a lot of people started making a lot of noise. Then the opening band came on - they were called 'Tonight Alive', and while I'd never heard of them before, they reminded me a lot of Paramore. Well, Paramore back when the Farro brothers still played: Five Man Band, with a female lead. The songs felt rather similar too. Well, the lyrics of which I could make out.

The sounds were...loud. Really, really loud. Make-your-ribcage-buzz-when-they-hit-the-bass-drum-loud. But exciting too. There were fists pumping and headbobbing and minor mosh activity.

And then Anberlin came on.

This roar went up from the crowd, and I looked on, slightly dumbstruck, as the band members took up their positions.
I got to know, got to hear of Anberlin about four years ago - when Cities was released. I had known that they'd changed their 'look' for the band since the Tooth and Nail years but was still very much used to their faces from 'The Unwinding Cable Car'. (I used it as an inspiration source for a uni assessment on 'Identity' and deconstructed the music video into storyboards.)
Anyway, they looked different. But they still sounded very much the same.
The crowd had already been revved up by the opening act, so with much gusto the band launched into Dismantle.Repair. The audience followed, singing, roaring. We moshed like....Masai warriors. Sung along like the words were battlecries for the soul (Some of them were, mind you). Danced like mad things and fist pumped like we were in an Anberlin concert.

Funny that.

I wish....I wish I was still there. I wish they had a live album recording. I wish I'd taken some initiative and given at least one of them a hug after the concert. More about that later.

The songs continued on, and so did we. I moshed until a giant cramp in my side advised against further activity, and eventually the songs plateaued into some of the quieter ones. It was really very awesome to hear all of these other people singing along - so loud was the music and the people that I could barely hear my own straining voice along with the multitude. For a long time, the only other people I knew who were into Anberlin were those who had introduced me to it. The Old Guard (those who were the last generation of youth group) back at my hometown church all listened to them in varying degrees, and I am fairly certain we all were stuck on Cities.

My point?
For a long time the only people I knew who even knew who Anberlin were I could count on my fingers. And then I met my (now)ex's cousin, who had Paperthin Hymn and two years later, went to see them at Soundwave and made me rather jealous. So, there weren't a lot of people who knew about them. And suddenly I was in a room with people who knew every lyric from every song, and Stephen Christian and Joseph Milligan and Christian McAlhaney and Deon Rexroat and Nate Young are there and we're just...just...

<<brain short-circuits.>>

It was amazing. I really, really enjoyed it.

At this stage, I'll give a brief overview of what happened next and then tell you a little bit more about a couple of the songs they performed and what I thought of them.

Fast-forward to the end of the night, where we, after thronging inside the theatre, began to throng on our way out past the table where the band members were sitting and signing things. I saw a couple of guys walking over clutching drumsticks that Nate had thrown out into the audience, and bit by bit made my way over to the table, fiddling with the poster that had somehow remained intact for the duration of everything.

In the end, I didn't get to say much. There was a 'thank you', a 'you played excellently' and an 'I really enjoyed listening to you'. But I got to look Stephen Christian in the eye. And in hindsight, I wish I'd been able to say something. Shake hands. Tell a joke to. Buy a beer for. I'd scribbled a note mentioning some part of the amount that I wished I'd expressed and had it in my hands. It was given to Deon, who was at the end of the line, along with the words "Have a thing."

I'm so eloquent.

And thus, the theatre was exited. Oporto was the next stop, where a much-overdue dinner was sought out at the time of 11:40pm. It would be considered a late dinner if I was in Europe, where they eat late anyway. NZ dinners FTW.
Walking up the street, it was easy to spot the fellow concert-people. Many were carrying white rolled-up posters, much the same as my own. Eventually the night bus came, and, at the end of it all, I arrived back at the Backpackers at about half-past Friday.
Mum got a message to say that I wasn't dead, and I proceeded to consume my dinner, which had all the connotations of being 'a slab of fried gold'.
It certainly tasted like one, all the way up until I got Oporto sauce down my shirt. I don't know how. It just happened.

As silently as I could muster, the bed was crawled into and I closed my eyes at 1am, wondering when the ringing in my ears would die down. It had been a long day. But it had been marvelous and I was very thankful for all of it. Except maybe for getting Oporto sauce on the pants that I'd have to wear the next day. But that kind of paled into insignificance next to everything else, so that was okay.

<<Now I think I'll tell you about some of the songs. Expect ranting.>>

Pray Tell.
This song is probably my favourite off 'Dark is a Way, Light is a Place.'
Despite the fact that there are already some videos from last night on YouTube, there isn't one for this. But that is okay.
Before going, I was being busy getting wound up over actually getting to go. Then I listened to this song and went, I really, REALLY hope they play this!
It's like the track was made to be played live. The drumbeat is unreal. And one minute we're standing in the crowd, and the next I can hear the start of the drumbeat and I know that the next three minutes is going to be freaking awesome.

The Art of War.
Another from 'Dark is a Way, Light is a Place.'
I don't know if it's ironic or what. This album was given to me by the only person I want to sing this song to right now. Listening to it being played live, I hoped and hoped that maybe they'd hear it. Maybe they'd know. But while singing along, my whole heart was in it.
<<Maybe Brooke would stop going third-person on the rest of the readers.>>

Finally, I know how to pronounce this one! Stephen Christian mentioned before starting it that this song was the one 'that got the most tattoos'. I'd never heard it played acoustic before. So worth it.

This is from 'Cities.'
They'd just finished, and left the stage. There was the roaring of the crowd, and in a relatively short period of time, a distinguishable chant could be heard:
One more song! One more song! One more song!
There was a moment of uncertainty, and then the most excellent and probably completely exhausted gentlemen made their way back to the stage, finishing the night with (in my opinion) the greatest song they've ever made.
What was really cool was that the audience pretty much formed the choir part that occurs in the song.
What was also insane was that Stephen finished the performance by dropping the mike onto the stage.

Now that I sit back and think about it, he was probably completely drained. I do not blame him in the slightest.


I can't think of how to finish this post.
I may stick up more videos as they trickle onto YouTube.
Or I may just go and try to draw out the humungous knot that has formed in my leg from excessive moshing.
Whichever way the cards fall, It's late and I am really, really tired. So bed it is. Bed, sleep, and dreaming of the cause of justifiable hearing loss.

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