Friday, July 15, 2011

On the Mic and Off the Air

As if things hadn't been going well enough for me already, I got a call Wednesday afternoon from one of my very best friends Leanne with some really awesome news... she had gotten a free ticket to the 2011 Unity Tour with Sublime and 311 for each of us through her brother's work (more on that part later). After jumping for joy and screaming to each other back and forth over the phone for a little while we both agreed we'd figure out the rest of the details the next morning and from there I tried to go on with my evening as normal, but lets just say I had a difficult time getting to sleep.

So after a few minor mishaps yesterday morning I made my way out to my hometown so we could take the train into Chicago together. There is something about hoping on a train and walking around downtown that feels so, I don't know... adult, to me. Maybe it's because when I was younger I couldn't be trusted to do such things and so when most of my peers were collecting ticket stubs I was staying closer to home. Or it could be because I'm navigationally challenged and on the whole the train system is intimidating to me, something you have to be an insider to understand. There never seem to be any signs posted and yet everyone but me seems to know inherently which side of the platform to wait on, which train their supposed to get on, where the darn bathroom is. But all of that is an aside from my story....

View from from doors of the Merchandise Mart

The show itself was awesome. Sublime played well and it took me back to some of the more pleasant memories I have of my teenage years, something about their music manages to put a positive spin on a negative time in my life for me so it was a very welcome dose of nostalgia. Really though, I was blown away by 311's performance. They have so much energy live and yet manage to sound so polished and practiced... flawless really, yet not that overproduced sound I'm getting so tired of from the stuff passing as music lately. They were absolutely real and raw and all of those great things that make music an experience instead of just entertainment. One of the few bands I've seen that sound just as good, if not better live than they do in their studio recordings.

Waiting for Unity Tour 2011 to start

Letting loose like that with such a close friend was so very awesome, and the whole concert on it's own was a great experience to be able to tuck away in my memory banks, but honestly my favorite part about the show wasn't something about the show at all... it was watching some of the people there enjoying themselves. One guy in particular who had a spot near where we were standing for the entire duration, and I could not stop myself from looking over and just smiling. At first I thought it was funny... in a "look at that crazy guy over there, doesn't he care that everybody is staring at him?" kind of way, but my initial reaction quickly changed. I realized that he wasn't, like some of the other people there, acting out under the influence, trying to escape from something or get attention or anything other than share the happiness he had, something I sensed was completely sincere and genuine. Refreshing. So I took his lead... and for the rest of the night I let myself express my happiness, and excitement without worrying about those who may think it was silly or awkward. I figured that maybe some, or even a lot of people would think I was crazy but maybe a few would look at me and find themselves smiling like I did when I looked to my left and saw this guy, slightly older than the majority of the crowd, dancing and singing by himself while those around him nodded their heads and pumped their fists now and again... all with a huge smile of his own spread across his face... or maybe it was just his spirit I felt smiling.

There were probably plenty of others like him, but it only took one person to inspire me to open up. I tend to guard myself quite a bit in terms of how much I show of my excitement. Not usually disappointment or upset. I tend to be most uncomfortable sharing my happiness with people, like if I am bubbly and enthusiastic my authenticity will come under question. I feel most awkward in those situations, the ones where I'm really enjoying myself but don't know how it will be received if I show it, and that my friends is a sad state of affairs. Luckily one that can, and will be corrected. Not starting now either; starting yesterday.

311 at Charter One Pavilion

By the end of the concert my legs felt like noodles from jumping and my head was pounding but God did it feel good to just expend all the energy I had into a complete head to toe physical expression of joy. And my night was not even over...

From the concert Leanne and I were invited to stop by her brother's place of work to run up, grab his bag and look around real quick. What made that such a treat (albiet a somewhat bittersweet one) is that he works, or I guess now the appropriate term is worked, for Q101 and when we arrived they were in the process broadcasting for the very last time over the radio waves. It was sad, and awesome and momentous. We had roughly 40 people all crammed in the studio with Chris Payne at the mic. Everyone cheering, clapping, laughing, making toasts, cracking jokes... trying not to get too sentimental, but often failing. It would have been impossible not to get somewhat mushy here and again though, I am not a member of the Q101 family and I felt myself getting teary-eyed! You could just sense the camaraderie and love in the room. It was amazing to see; to get a glimpse into the heart of something like that. This strong sense of community, and not just between those in the studio, it was a feeling of connection with this huge family of people that were listening in that moment and also those who had built an emotional connection with the radio station at different points throughout it's nearly 2 decade run.

Q101 Last few minutes broadcasting

How do you put experiences like these into words? Because, seriously... I'm out of them and yet what I've written above does not even come close.


  1. You totally put into words how I feel about not being comfortable sharing my excitement/happiness in social situations. I've never been able to sort through that insecurity logically so thank you for putting it into words. I just told Glenn when we were leaving Chicago after the 4th "I can't believe Q101 is still on the air when all of the other stations have changed." A week later everyone is talking about its demise. Bummer.

  2. I don't really know where that insecurity comes from other than in general our society is fixated on the negative. There are a lot of factors, but I've been reading quite a bit lately on how action conquers fear and it totally helped in that situation. Once I acted (danced or whatever) I was not worried about what people would think of me anymore.

    I am completely bummed about Q101 too... I don't even listen to the radio much at all anymore, but it's one of those things that feels like a part of your personal history because it was playing in the background of all these critical life moments and it's not something you can re-watch, re-listen to or re-read.

    Actually this blog post by Kent Green said it way better than I did:


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