I usually carry my camera with me everywhere....
But the one time
I wished I had it the most... is (of course
) the one time I didn't have it on me. But maybe that was meant to be. This way I would be entirely in the moment and absorbing the experience. Instead of trying to record it and viewing it behind the lens of a camera. Yesterday was a complete surprise.
Ever since Fiona Apple's
debut album back in 1996
, I loved her music. Her lyrics carried me through some of my darkest and happiest moments. For 10 years
I wanted to see her live on stage, but I didn't have any expectations of this actually occuring. When I discovered that she would be performing in New York on June 22nd 7:30 P.M., I started trying to figure out a way to make it happen.
But with no tickets to this concert and extremely limited finances. It didn't look like it would be happening. The lowest price for a ticket available online started at 75 dollars a piece
. (way out of my price range)
That didn't stop me from leaving the house on a whim at 7:15
yesterday with my sister, Laura and Eric with the hopes of just HEARING
it. I knew that Nikon theater was open air and that the music drifted over Jones Beach. You can hear it
over the sounds of the crashing surf. I was content to just stand outside, close my eyes and pretend
I was inside. I figured we could drink, sing along and walk across the shore. It could be a once and a lifetime opportunity. Who is to say when she would tour again and even if she would? It seemed crazy, since it was pouring rain
. We knew we had a long drive to look forward to and dark threatening clouds loomed overhead.
I didn't care if it WAS
crazy, I had my mind set. Carpe Diem.Damien Rice
was the opening act and when we arrived he was wrapping up his performance. I could hear the violins and his gentle voice as soon as we stepped out of the car at 8:25 P.M.
, The rain had stopped.
"Maybe we should just see
if there are any tickets available..." I said to Eric "Just check out the prices.."
That's when we were approached by a family group led by two older men with dark hair. "Do you need tickets?
", the man asked "I have 2 tickets... best seats in the house.
They're worth a hundred each. Those friends didn't show, We're about to go in right now... I don't want to miss Fiona. This is her stepfather
." He pointed to the man beside him. The man smiled kindly.
I have to confess. I was skeptical
. I didn't want to be played for a fool. My sister muttered with a smirk "oh yeah
, I'm friends with Fiona too.."
"Are those real tickets?", I gazed down at the crumpled up "e-tickets" printed out from the internet. It looked like a scam
"Yes, It would be shame for them to go to waste." Fiona's "Stepfather" said. "We'll walk in with you, but if you want them... you'll have to go in now
"But we're a group of three
", I said protectively taking Eric's hand. "I'm not leaving him out of the loop"
"I'm afraid I only have 2 tickets" He said shaking his head regretfully. "Nevermind, I figured I would give it a shot. We have to head in now"
Eric quickly said "Would you take 20$ each
for those 2 tickets?"
"Yes, sure", Fiona's stepfather responded "That would be fine but I really need to go in now. I can't miss this show.."
"Eric we're not
leaving you!", I interjected
"Clarity.." Eric said looking into my eyes. "Take those two tickets, You and your sister go inside. I will meet you in there. Just go.
Don't let this once and a lifetime opportunity go to waste."
I hesitated. "No..we'll just wait for 3 tickets
, Eric urged.
I gave him a passionate kiss and he squeezed my arm with a smile. We followed the men behind the gates, into the concert arena. Then we thanked them and we separated."We're in!!!
", I was still in a state of disbelief. I didn't even imagine getting in at all..and not for such a cheap price
. It seemed a little too good to be true
. "Okay... let's see where these *supposed* "best seats in the house" are actually located"
We found the right section, and we were greeted by Guard after Guard. Each one directed us closer and closer
to the stage. I gave my sister a side-long glance of surprise. The final guard led us directly up to the stage..in the CENTER...and placed us in the second row. We sat down in utter shock. Never in my life was I this close in a concert
... Damien Rice was performing his last song. He was only feet away from us..we had a clear view of him up close, the entire stage.. This was V.I.P.!
At the start of Intermission Fiona's stepfather approached us. "Do you like the seats?"
I was speechless. I started thanking him and expressing my shock. He smiled "Enjoy the show" and went to the aisle across from us.It's hard to even describe my euphoria...I can't. I thought I was dreaming...
Fiona Apple came onto the stage slowly. Her head was down, hair hanging over her face and she was in shadow. She walked timidly and sat down in front of the piano. She cleared her throat like a mouse... Everyone was silent.
Then she began to slam her powerful fingers down on the piano with such force and passion. Her Gusty voice carried. It was windy outside, (the remnants of the passing storm) and her hair flew around her face. She trembled when she sang and she put her entire heart into it. It was so raw..She didn't just play her piano, she hammered it, beat it, slammed it.
When she stood up to the microphone, she had such a presence. Her dress was moving with the wind and she was only 5 or 6 feet away. She screamed like Janis Joplin, whipped her microphone cord back and forth. She danced like a teenager does in their bedroom when they think no one is watching. Head back, arms out...thrashing, kicking...with her eyes closed. She fell to the floor and slammed it with her fists. Sometimes she was fluid in her movements and almost in slow motion but othertimes she was jerking, shaking and raging. It was spontaneous, real, in the moment and emotional outbursts. When she sang about joy...you felt it it
. When she sang about sorrow...you felt your own chest ache
. You couldn't tear your eyes away, you couldn't even breath.
The passion and pain in her voice brought tears to my eyes. To see her performing live all these songs that accompanied the events in my life..
I was a teenager again..and then I was in college again..I was re-living the pain of my first break up..the flush of first love.. the agony of death...Her performance was heartstopping. It was like witnessing a breakdown and witnessing ecstacy. We were so close that I thought I have to be watching this on T.V or I was hallucinating. It was surreal. (Dom
witnessed Fiona Apple performing in the same tour earlier this season in Chicago, Click here
to read his entry on the experience)
But the moment that really knocked the wind out of me was this..
She began talking to the audience..and she said "Tonight is a special night for me. Someone very special and dear to me is in the Audience today. My Stepfather is here. Please cheer for him
She called out to him, and sure enough...Our ticket seller answered her, with a pet name "Feanut". She started laughing and pointed to him. "There you are!
Laura and I slowly turned to eachother in shock. It WAS
She made references to him all through out the rest of the show.
At the end of the show, Her stepfather called out to us. "You didn't believe me, did you?", He teased.
I smiled at him. I pressed my hand over my heart and cried out "THANK YOU". Then I blew him a kiss with both hands. He smiled back. It just goes to show you, sometimes you have to trust
in the good of people and believe.
Then we headed out.
We met up with Eric
outside (It turns out: He was
able to see the show as well and enjoyed it, but he was seated in a different section) "WHAT?! wait a minute.
..So that really WAS
Fiona's stepfather and he spoke to you afterwards?! Why didn't you hang out with him and go backstage to meet her!? He would have taken you, He seemed like such a cool guy! I can't believe you blew that opportunity to meet your favorite singer!"
"I wanted to get back to you. An experience like that wouldn't have felt right without you, besides I'm happy I was able to see that concert. THAT close..it was a dream come true. I didn't need more. I haven't felt this happy in a long time."
But all the praise Fiona Apple heaped on her Stepfather rang true. He's a wonderful man and he made it possible for me to have the time of my life.
Thank you Robert.
My sister and I used to listen to Fiona Apple in her bedroom. We would sing along, drink, talk about life and sometimes just lay on the floor. We grew up together with her music and this meant a lot to both of us.
These haven't been the easiest times for us lately, but I think this marks the beginning of a turn around. The bliss from last night's concert hasn't faded, even though it's the next day. I realize I'm here in New York for a reason. My experience here is important.
It's been a really rocky road, But when all is said and done....It's good to be home.