Saturday, March 17, 2007

My love, you came to me like
Wine comes to a mouth
Grown tired of water all the time
You quench my heart and you
Quench my mind

--- You've got to love Dave Matthews ! And this isn't even his best.. But I'm currently tripping on Two step! It reflects my mood - happy and in love . Besides, I like the simple simile !

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Love, Sex and Dying...

I went to a dave matthews concert on friday night. I guess I've already told that to pretty much everyone I know out of sheer disbelief that it happened. I want to write about it for only one purpose. So that I don't forget that night.. So forgive me if it's not exactly a concert review. That is hardly my intention. It shall be riddled with my own impressions, centred around my thoughts , my mood and as it always ends up being, shall be about me!

The night started typically enough. I was waiting. He came - late and stoned. I wasn't surprised! It WAS Dave Matthews we were going to see ! We tripped our way through a metro ride and usually straightforward streets. I was 'tension paati' till we reached - paranoid we were going to miss him altogether, convinced we were lost and while I frantically looked around for signs of the damn concert hall, I was treated to such gems such as 'All roads lead to rome, and therefore we go to rome take the return road to AB hall from there, since there is a road that leads from there to rome too' - Mary Jane Mumbles!! The giggling began, a reaction to his ever so peaceful demeanour. I resisted the urge to reach out for that joint !

So we arrived. Realised we were late anyway, turned out that so was Mr. Matthews , So stayed out, on the broad belgian road and lit up the other joint. An inspired but nevertheless futile search for food later we headed rather disappointedly inside. I'm really beginning to believe that you can be passively stoned.. I think, if at all, I like it best that way.. That way I don't have to suffer the tar and worry about premature greying!
And so it began.

The first thing that happened as we entered the dark, over crowded opera hall - Someone spilt beer on my nice shoes ! I felt like I was in one of those frat parties in a hollywood college movie. Everyone was drinking, it was FULL of americans and you could smell pot everywhere! We pushed our way through - We were standing audience and what with all of these huge 6 feet pluses, I couldn't see a thing! I struggled to find a decent vantage point, much to my companions amusement. But he was sweet, he obliged me even if with a patronising smile on his face. Much wiggling and adjustment-of-stance later, I could finally see, when I craned my neck!

The stage was set simply and yet it was incredibly beautiful - Smoky, perfect lighting !! Just the man and his guitar I thought, until I realised a couple of seconds later , there was NO way that the guitaring was just one person's - The song ended just then and the spotlight moved, accompanied with an awed "Ladies and gentlemen, I give you, Tim Reynolds" - I was under the distinct impression it was a solo concert! I felt a sudden rush, the evening was just beginning.

I will not describe the night as magical. It was fraught with one rather unpleasant, niggling problem that I will not dwell on just yet. Instead I will say, what it was, Surreal !! We looked at each other for reassurance - not in that fake, exagerrated pinch-me-i-must-be-dreaming way- but real oh-my-god-ness gleaming through our dilated pupils. The instinctive hug that followed meant we didn't need to say "I can't believe this is happening"

There is nothing like going to a concert with a fellow fan. Someone who knows and loves the music. You exchange little tidbit trivia between songs, whisper oh-fuck-wasn't-that-awesomes after that phenomenal guitar interlude and just have someone to grin away so widely at, someone who feels just as lucky you are to be there in the moment, just listening to a couple of guys making music.

Ok, well, not just a couple of guys!!! Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds , Dames en Heren!!

So you're a fan, you know his music, you love his voice, you indulge his eccentric verbal meanderings with amusement writ on your lips, you've always wondered if it's real, Can he be as wonderful a performer as he seems?

It turns out, that's a resonating "Abso-fuckin-lutely!!!"

For one, he's high or maybe that's just how he is, but i suspect it's also the former, and it's so strange to actually hear those verbal hiccups that have come to be so familiar on his LIVE albums.There are two things you simply CANNOT help notice about Dave Matthews - First, his sense of humour! Second, his capacity to improvise!

The concert was quite intimate. He preceded each song with a little background about it - how it was written - some anecdote, something it reminded him of - something usually pretty funny. His humour was indefatigable that night. He kept the crowd engaged in him, not just his music. He made fun of americans, and ofcourse there's no better way to win a European's heart or an Indian's for that matter ! The only problem was often he would run the words into each other and it would sound like a rather multi-tone mumble!

One of the funnier bits of the evening was that about 6 or 7 songs he began with a rather indistinct guitar strumming, while he began with a different voice and often just deadpan he would say "This is a song.. Well uh.. This is a song about Love, Sex and Dying" It was particularly funny because invariably the song had absolutely nothing to do with that. But just the whole mock seriousness, he pulled off so well

Every now and then he lapsed into this peculiar manner of doing cartoonish voices in the middle of some very serious thing he was saying. I've noticed this in his Live at Luther concerts too and I always thought it would be very weird hearing it at the concert and I was right! At those moments he sounds like a 60's american radio broadcast doing a retro comic piece with accents of all manner! Out of place - but ok, still funny!!

Now his improvisation is rather interesting. At first I didn't even realise it because he was doing it with songs I wasn't familiar with. And then came along a couple I did know and he actually deviated quite a bit in between. Dancing nancies was one of them I recall. I actually liked the live version better. I suppose he sort of goes with the flow of how the crowd responds to the songs. Or perhaps he uses each venue as a chance to try out his musical experiments on our predisposed-to-like-it ears.

He sang two whole songs that he just made up.. on the spur of the moment.. reacting to the audience and the pulse of the crowd.That was phenomenal, it took me a minute to realise that the lyrics were about Brussels and that evening, it started out innocuously enough, with tim just plucking away at seemingly random notes and dave strumming a few chords.. almost like the beginning of a record session. And then he plastered his face with a mock seriousness and sang funny things about the crowd. I wondered if it was a gimmick. Or he was letting himself have a break. Or he had forgotten what he was going to sing. He's a professional, so I doubt it was the latter. I suspect he was just being entertaining. He probably knew we'd lap it all up anyway.

The highlights of the evening were renditions of Gravedigger, Satellite and Sister. Oh and ofcourse, Tim Reynolds' cover of Kashmir - Brilliant, only one word to describe it! I screamed myself hoarse through the song. He's simply A-list!! Another interesting event, a prelude to a rendition of one of his newer (and it's really beautiful) songs called Sister was a little episode of Dave losing his temper very momentarily. He was talking about what the song meant to him , about his sister who was murdered and what the song meant to him etc. and in the middle of it all, a guy yelled out several times, the name of some song he wanted Dave to sing and it was so disruptive that Dave just pointedly looked in the general direction of the crowd and very reflexively told the guy to shut the fuck up! Truth be told, nobody recoiled in horror, it was fully warranted and a lot of us wanted to do precisely that anyway! What a rude asshole that guy was! The sad part was, when a minute later Dave forced himself to recant and apologize.. Dammit, it's such a pity that when you're a big star you don't have the freedom to speak your mind and you have to politically correct lest you be written up as the bad guy in the morning's issue, even though you might be reacting fully within your rights as a normal human being in a perfectly socially acceptable way!!

The only sore point (unfortunately it did have a lot of bearing on my spirits ) was that I was stood for four hours with no space to move, in the quite uncomfortable shoes - Trust a woman! After an hour standing, I thought I was going to die, My friend and I realised we might as well take a break and get some beer so we'd enjoy the concert better when we did get back.We got out of the hall, sat down and began to sip a beer, that was nice except that after the second hour , when we took another break and another beer (Now, I'm still a novice and Belgian beer is something else) on an empty stomach, let me just say, it wasn't just my uncomfortable shoes that was making it difficult for me to stand still in one place ! Damn my need to wear nice looking ( => uncomfortable) shoes, God knows, nobody can see them in the darkness anyway ! I really would have enjoyed the concert more and not needed to fidget as much if I was about 15 pounds lighter or wearing tennis shoes.

While moshpits are fun the first time around, I think I'd much rather take a seat thank you very much. Standing in an extremely cramped environment for three plus hours is not fun!! Speaking of which, the Europeans listen so stolidly to the music. They don't move. they nod appreciatively. What kind of an audience is that! Dave Matthews is exactly the kind of guy you want to rock with. I don't mean head bang but surely you want to move a little, the music is so, to use a much abused word, groovy that you want to be able to sway a tad! Strange people, strange!.. Well, I still did and I had a lovely time of it too!

I really wish a couple of my friends could have been there. I KNOW how much they would have enjoyed it. I missed them a lot then!! Hopefully someday we can all do it together. I guess in the meanwhile, I'll count my blessings and feel really grateful for such unexpected good fortune.

The sentimental fool that I am, I saved the ticket stub.

P.S: Weedboy, thanks for looking out for me and delighting in my delight :)

Friday, March 02, 2007


I went to Brussels this morning. We took the number 71 to Avenue de Adolphe Buyl. ( I wonder what he did to deserve the honour) It was a long ride and I got to see a lot of the city that I hadn't had an oppurtunity to before. First of all, I must say, I hate being in a new place if it's for any other reason except tourism ( for lack of a better word) . Besides, I'm afraid I am much too spoiled to find public transport in a big, crowded city, enjoyable - In fact, it really gets my goat.

In Brussels today, I was clearly out of my comfort zone and I felt like a fish out of water - unsure and struggling. Brussels is quite a bustling city, and with a million inhabitants it's bordering on overpopulated (for it's areal size) . Now you may think that sounds higly pretentious and even hypocritical coming from me, having been brought up in a city of 8 million people. But we have relativity to consider, have we not?

My frame of reference for comparison is my peaceful little university town of a 60,000 people - half of whom, mercifully, make their exit every weekend to their own homes around the country. I realise how much I have grown to love living in a small town - where you know where everything is , where you can recognize the bus drivers, where they can recognize you, you know how the 'system' works , people smile or atleast nod at you, where traffic stops for pedestrians and people are polite and patient.

As I struggled to explain to the bus driver where I need to go, struggled with the switch of language, struggled with a map, I realised how much I had settled down into my little niche since I first landed, how six months ago, Leuven and Brussels were all the same to me.. Alien! Now, In all truth, I can say that there are two places I feel comfortable in - home and Heverlee.

A funny thing, the mind. Mine ached to soar and explore. Always straining against the leash of circumstance and lack-of-opportunity, my curiosity always was my most heightened instinct. And then I got what I wanted. I left home. I came to Belgium. And the drastic nature of the change tossed everything upside down. I found myself constantly seeking the familiar and sticking to what I knew and understood. It puzzled a close friend of mine for a long time, he didn't seem to understand how it was that a girl so seemingly open in her views suddenly clammed up. I didn't expect it myself. If someone had suggested that I'd be so terrified of the things that I find I am, I would have pooh-poohed it!

I guess in the beginning, it was pretty simple. Everything was too strange. I was completely unaccustomed to anything except the familiar. I suppose now, I'm a little better. But in the last six months, the same fear that held me back also made me begin to really appreciate the small town life. It's made me see what I missed out on being brought up in Madras.

I wonder every now and then , if it's a case of simply, the grass being greener on the other side. You want stability when you have adventure and vice versa. I am reconciling myself to the fact that I'm not who I want to be and I can't change myself into being an uber-adventurous spirit just because I choose that that is the image of myself I like. This is what I mean, when I say that I'm discovering myself bit by bit with every little incident - such is the power of being thrust straight into the deep end - Ofcourse, it's a good thing I figured out how to swim soon enough!

Thanks to a certain someone for moral support on that :)