Friday, February 7, 2014

october backlogs: needtomeet needtobreathe

In early October I decided to participate in a crazy contest that would allow both Dusty and I to go to Richmond with 2 free tickets AND a meet and greet for my favorite band, Needtobreathe. 
I wasn't sure if I could win -- but shortly after I began, I became crazed with the possibilities. 
It wasn't a hard contest -- all I had to do was scroll through their pictures, listen to their music, etc. from this contest site in order to accrue points, and share the content so that others could do the same. Whenever someone clicked on my link, I would get triple the points!
The best part was it actually showed my placement in the contest. I started out in like 300th place, then slowly began climbing the ladder...thus, my crazed obsession.
I became that person, the one that mass-messaged people I haven't talked to in years, that posted multiple times a day, that even texted and begged.

The last day of the contest, I'm pretty sure I was milliseconds away from cardiac arrest.
I had been going back and forth from 1st to 2nd place, and as the time whittled down to the last 60 seconds, it took everything in me not to scream for that full minute in the middle of my tiny office in interlibrary loan.
But then:


I could hardly wait, but eventually October 12 did come and we were on our way to Richmond for the concert!

We had been to Richmond before, and had a really great time. It's a really cool city!
(I went for the Color Run there, and then Dusty and I went there over the 4th of July). 

We decided to head down that afternoon, to get settled into our hotel before we went to the downtown venue, The Canal Club.
The concert didn't start until around 8, but we wanted to be there at 6 so we could be in line for the Meet & Greet beforehand.

It started to rain a little bit while we were outside, so they slowly started letting in the VIP people (and yeah, I was totally on the VIP list, yo!). Once we were inside, I felt so incredibly cool.
The venue was low-ceilinged, dark, wooden, cozy. It was the kind of venue that made it feel like you were part of an elite secret club. The stage was tiny, and there was a little bar area in the back and a few booths and tables up against the wall.

They already had the band merchandise tables set up, so once they finally started the line and the band came out (OMG, Dusty, there they are, I think I'm gonna pee my pants) Dusty ran over and grabbed a poster so we could have something for them to sign. 
I honestly I had no idea what to say to them. I didn't wanna be creepy, I didn't wanna be a superfan, so I just settled for shaking each of their hands, saying their names out loud, smiling like an idiot, telling them we loved their music and that this would be our 5th concert, and that we were so excited for it. 

We totally fit in, amiright?

I felt really hesitant walking away from them and letting the line continue. I tried to think of anything else to say, but made myself shuffle my feet away. Keep cool. 

The meet and greet continued, and Dusty and I went and plopped down at one of the tables. We hadn't eaten yet, so Dusty and I went and ordered some chicken fingers, fries and sodas while we waited. It was so quiet, because there weren't that many people inside yet. It was amazing.


As soon as the band went backstage, people started crowding around the front of the stage in anticipation of the non-VIP peeps pouring in. We brought the rest of our food and joined them at the front, and let me tell you, it was a good decision. Because people were intense about their places in the crowd. Once we were settled there, there was no going back. People filled in on all sides, and we were trapped. No bathroom, no refills, no cutting. 

At one point a guy tried to creep through from the side, claiming he had a friend on the other side, and halfway through he just turned around and left.
He was full-on harrassed by the girls behind us (who I decided I would easily become best friends with), and after their pestering and incriminating questions, it was clear there was no friend, he was just trying to get in the front without waiting like the rest of us did.

The first band was Ivan & Alyosha, and they were absolutely incredible live. We had never heard of them before, but their harmonies were stunning. They did their entire set acoustically, because their drummer couldn't make it to this concert. I forget why. 
But we were so excited to have a new band to love!
(Take a look at their acoustic versions of Fathers Be Kind, Don't Want to Die Anymore, and Running For Cover -- it'll give you a tiny taste of what they sounded like live!)

We were able to meet them after the show, and they were so nice! We chatted for a while, asking them about tour life, and they signed their CD for us.
That's one of the bonuses of such an intimate venue, for sure. Being able to hang with the bands, stay until midnight, eat and drink and be merry.
The place was packed, though, to be sure. Needtobreathe wanted to do these small venues for an intimate tour, paying homage to their humble beginnings and hitting the spots that meant a lot to them when they first started. While a lot of people were bummed because it limited their tour range and the number of tickets that could be sold at each event, it was such an incredible experience and I'm so glad they did it. The music was literally living inside of us, strumming our heartstrings and pulsing inside our veins.
It was absolutely the most incredible concert experience of my life.

The one downside, I will say, is that they wouldn't let us bring our camera in. Which is such a huge bummer, especially when we were so close and could have gotten some incredible shots
Having our iPhones as our only tools for capturing the night was disappointing, but I think it also allowed us to focus a bit more on the music.

They did a song called Oh Carolina from their new album, which is supposed to come out in April! I was pretty excited about it, because I had just bought a shirt with Oh Carolina on it at the merchandise table right before the concert.
One of our favorite parts was when they told us that they had met some fans on the street earlier that day that were coming to this concert, and they asked them to play something from their first album. 
Bear apologized ahead of time, in case he forgot the words, because they hadn't played it in years!
They played Haley, which prompted the girls behind us to freak out (apparently the leader of their pack was named Haley and this was her favorite song ever in the world). 

I love when they play their more acoustic songs, because they're so dang good at it. The last few concerts we've seen, they finish the night with an a cappella bit, and it's my absolute favorite part of the evening. 
At another concert last year (in Charlotte, NC) they did Difference Maker, which is another song from their new album.
It's one of my all-time favorites - I personally think it supersedes their typical style in a way that's really unexpected. It's beautiful - it gave me goosebumps the first time I heard it live, and it still does!

This time they did a fun acoustic/a cappella version of their song Something Beautiful, which was really cool.

Overall it was the best, and we had such an incredible time. It's really hard to explain something like that, but Dusty and I just kept squeezing each other's hands and mouthing this is so amazing throughout the evening.
Once they finished their last song and left the stage, it was such a sad feeling! Even after 3+ hours of music, I wanted more. More more more. We were high on life.

We left the venue really late, I think around 12, but we were wide awake.
Once we got close to our hotel and remembered the Denny's right next door, Dusty pulled right into 24-hour restaurant without even asking me - we both knew it had to be done. We had to debrief. We had to eat breakfast food. We had to just drink it all in, and by "it" I mean the music and a crappy cup of coffee.

I won't gush too much about Dusty, even though he's totally gush-worthy, but it's trips and experiences like this that make me so happy I married him. Being able to share my favorite band with him, being able to know each other so well it's kind of creepy. When I'm old and grey I'll be able to point to that night and say, oh man, remember that feeling? Remember that place? Remember?
And unless we're both senile, he'll say yes, it was one of the best. 
Couples who have fun together stay together.

The next morning, we decided to yelp out a place to go to Sunday brunch. We chose the Continental, and it was amazing! Their bananas foster waffles were out of this world, and their special of the day was a breakfast mash of potatoes, brisket, jalapenos, bell peppers, sunny-side up eggs...we ate ourselves into tastebud heaven before heading back out into the rain to drive back to Lynchburg.

We listened to Ivan & Alyosha all the way home, and thanked the Lord for such a beautiful weekend.

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