Last night was perfect.
If you know me at all, you know I never say that. But I am in London and for some reason last night, everything was coming up Milhouse.
You see, last night Dawes played in London at Union Chapel. I am not usually a man of faith, but last night I was because this is Union Chapel:
If you have ever talked to me about going to live shows I have probably already taken you through the following line of thinking, but for those (maybe two?) readers who just chance upon this article thanks to my skillful #tagging, this is why concerts are important to me.
Music is my religion. I believe that the reason going to church is powerful is not because it makes God happy, but rather because there are so many separate people brought together thinking about the same things and listening to the same words. The collective consciousness that 1,000 people reciting “Our Father” incites is undeniably special. But I believe that 1,000 people raging to “Theraflu” at a Kanye West show is just as powerful. The important aspect is having a group of individuals all buying into the same third party, whether it’s Jesus, Yeezus, or Dawes.
Last night I got to see Dawes for the fourth time in my life. To give you some perspective, this is how I have acted at Dawes shows in the past… (skip to 3:22 and wait for the crowd shot, I’m the fool in the hoodie)
Now, I am in a new country. On a new continent. And I have a very skewed view of what a sense of “home” is.
But I was very much at home last night.
The night started with an attempted trip to what I now believe to be a fictional part of London called “Shortridge.” Granted, I know that this place actually exists in London, but it was impossible to find. After a train and three busses, myself and my mates from Study Abroad were still unable to find our desired destination. We eventually broke, settled for a pint at the “Drunken Monkey” and regrouped.
It was at this point that I decided to “fuck this” and go to see Dawes. I was aware of their show in London. I had an address but no working GPS. But there was hope in my heart. And thus, I started towards the show.
I knew I was laughably far away from my desired destination. This became clear when I asked for directions from the nearest bus stop and Londoners began to laugh at me. But they were familiar with the venue of “Union Chapel” and that gave me hope; I figured that if strangers here knew the venue, than those closer to my desired destination would know it as well.
I followed their directions. I got on a bus that I was unsure of. I was correct. Sometimes luck works in your favor and for that I am thankful. I arrived at the venue at 7:25pm (19:25 in London). The doors had opened at 7pm. I was able to claim a seat about seven rows back thanks to my solo arrival. This placed me next to Simon and Kate, two of my favorite strangers. I thanked them for allowing my presence and waited for the show.
Marcus Foster opened. He was perfect for the room. He opened with just a mic, a telecaster, and a deep v-neck. The sunset was still streaming through the stained glass windows. It sounded like a hymn, and I was fully taken in to church for the night.
Then Dawes came on. Church was in session. They just get me.
In the middle of “Fire Away” the power went out. The crowd took up the bridge of the song, I got to belt “Through each stumble, shift, and sway” at the top of my lungs.
This “local power outage” lasted long enough for Dawes to play five songs completely acoustic. Taylor sat with his guitar, and the drummer and keyboardist say instrument-less ready to help with backup vocals.
Just count it as another miracle.
But the most amazing part of the experience for me was the fact that no one had their cell (mobile) phones out. If this happened in the States, I feel like every person in the venue would whip out their iPhone and be more excited to upload a video to YouTube than actually experience the show.
However, because I am a journalist, it is my job to get my camera out and be excited to upload a video to YouTube so I can give you this:
Harmonies this good usually do not exist on our plane of reality.
After that short bit, I put my phone away for the remainder of the show. I was present. The acoustic set closed with Taylor singing “A Little Bit of Everything” completely solo. I know this is overtly literal, but the scene was no longer a rock concert; it was a group of people that had gathered to hear one person perform. That might sound like the same thing as a rock concert, but it’s not. He finished and the crowd exploded into a standing ovation.
From there the show went on as usual and I’m pretty sure the majority of the crowd while still enjoying the show, were a bit bitter that God decided to “Let there be light” after just five songs.
I should go to church more often.