For 11:59 (Part One) – here http://beatandlyric.com/2011/07/11/an-1159-part-one/
Apparently the gestation period for blogging about a whirlwind trip to NYC to see a concert you were supposed to see in November is 9 months. I’ve reported the gist of the trip to friends and family, posted the pictures on Facebook for my inner circle to see, the ‘story’ has never been out there for the world (at the least the small part that reads what I write). I’m sure now, 9 months later it has solid lungs, it has 10 fingers, 10 toes and is ready for entry.
I must give credit, where credit is due. It’s all Lindsay’s fault. Chatting one night in October 2010, I mentioned that Ryan Star was playing a show in NYC the same weekend we had contemplated doing a road trip to Montreal (American Thanksgiving). Her response “let’s go there instead”. I had a ‘you don’t have to ask me twice’ light go off in my head and plans were made. Show tickets purchased, flights booked, swanky accommodations arranged. Excitement ensued.
Nine days, seriously nine days before departure news came that the show was being post-ponded until January 18th. I felt like the kid at Christmas that opens a present to find pajamas, the kid that opens the brown paper bag to find a ‘healthy’ lunch – total lunch-bag letdown. I’m not going to dwell on my disappointment as we went anyways and had a great weekend seeing the city.
Our accommodations were extraordinary (thank you Andrew) an apartment on the UWS, a terrace and roof-top access with a view of the park, Starbucks within spitting distance and an awesome breakfast joint perfect for indulging after a run through one of the most famous green spaces in the world. *Sigh*. We went, we had fun but there was unfinished business and I felt it brewing on the flight home.
Refunds for the concert tickets were available, but I couldn’t bring myself to cut the tie. I was willing to eat the cash in hopes that just maybe last minute plans could be made. The internal struggle became a battle in my head. A Tuesday night in January was difficult for me to get to Toronto so NYC was an entirely different dimension. Lindsay was a firm ‘no’ much to my dismay for she was an awesome travelling companion, even with her directionally challenged limitations, as January was her busiest time at work. I contemplated a trip alone, I looked into cheap hotels in the Webster Hall area and then I put it out to my inner circle. I received lots of “oh I would love to see Ryan’s show but it’s too far to travel on a weeknight” or “are you crazy?”
Right before the Christmas holidays I started to concede that this wasn’t going to happen. I was coming to terms with tucking the tickets away and forgetting about the show and continuing with the waiting game for a Toronto or Montreal date. But then a carrot appeared, a shiny golden carrot was dangled in front of me. Gambit and Hesta Prynn were announced as openers. Crawling out from her hole was Betty Beat, she caught a glimpse of the shiny and was in hot pursuit of the light.
January 17, 2011 – weather forecast for January 18 in Muskoka is bleak. I realize I cannot risk missing a plane because the weather in my area is sucky. I make my way to Toronto a day early to avoid freezing rain and snow. I am eternally thankful for friends like Lindsay who live pretty much right next door to Toronto Island Airport. I arrive in Toronto with no problems, get myself a good night’s sleep and wake up ready for adventure.
Check flight – some delays.
UGH. No f*cking way. The threat of an ice storm in the New York vicinity is causing Porter Airlines to condense their flight schedule. I make the decision to head to the airport and meet Betty there and try and get on an earlier flight so at least we are in the city not worrying one bit if we can’t get out. Works like a charm, and no charge for changing flights either…..sweet!
Security on the other hand isn’t so easy. Porter Airlines is mainly a business class airline shuttling business types between Toronto, Boston, New York and Chicago. Two women travelling with no brief case, no business attire going to New York City for the day is apparently suspicious. We get tagged for full-on body scan and baggage search. They find nothing, because we are good girls and we are on our merry way. Side note: Porter Ginger cookies are the best and not just because they are free.
We get on the plane, get seated and continue to bounce in our seats from excitement. No wait that was turbulence! It was a bouncy ride the entire way to Newark…and not the good kind of bounce. Our descent seemed like eons, I do suspect anticipation was holding the clock still. We get through customs with no real problems, small rookie mistake of being slightly too chatty with the customs officer. I will forever adhere to the First Rule of Customs Chit Chat – THERE IS NO CHIT CHAT. Thankfully dude was as charming as charming
can be when you are in ‘customs’. Again, I suspect anticipation to be the culprit.
The train, oh the lovely retro train into Penn Station, it’s not the clickety clack type train that Sheldon Cooper loves, and likely we weren’t sitting in the optimal seats but we were just lucky to be seated. We arrive at Penn Station. Having been in this location previously I take charge and lead Betty along. Betty’s thoughts upon arrival “The NYC subway is CRAZY. And damp when it rains. Like crazy damp/wet. And dirty. It’s interesting that everything is so old and interesting, but it’s so DIRTY. And the decay is crazy. And the subway is filled with cops (in some cases, hot cops). And I’m eternally grateful for iPhone apps that help you with the subways because it puts Toronto’s 2-line system to shame. The good thing is neither Lila nor I had any moments of panic or anything when we got turned around. It was all very chill and “meh, let’s just backtrack a bit.”
My reflections on those moments leading up to and arriving in New York City now nine months later are strange. I do love the spontaneity but it doesn’t seem like a trip two thirtysomething-year-olds with kids(dogs), husbands, mortgages and that day-to-day life embark on. I think that is what makes it strangely special that it’s seemingly out-of-the-ordinary for woman like Betty and myself to even want to do a whirlwind trip like this, and it takes me back to a ‘moment’ that is significant. It’s an 11:59 moment that I didn’t know I had until reflecting right here, right now. Mrs. Wilson, Grade 11 art class, BCI – she was ‘that’ teacher, her job was to teach me the fundamentals of art, but she guided me creatively, she gave me the foundation for living in the moment. I arrived one day in class with red hair, a nice mahogany. I remember her watching me from across the room and sauntering over as I layered the thick oil paint onto canvas. She put on that art teacher look and examined my work and said “I really like the red” as she looked at the canvas. I was painting with blue. I looked at her from the corner of my eye perplexed and she continued “the hair, not the paint. I see you as the girl that keeps them guessing, just when they figure you out you go and change”. Nothing else was said but that is a moment that will live with me until the day I die, an 11:59. Perhaps my ramblings about Mrs. Wilson’s prophecies are a way of connecting the dots, connecting my youth to those moments on the night of January 18, 2011 more than 20 years later.
As we wandered around Penn Station looking for the train to take us to the vintage store that I had decided would be a fun addition to our day in the city I got a little cocky. Got on the train, the right train, got off at the right location, and then it started to turn. The store was nowhere to be found. Frantically we wander back and forth between a two to three block radius….in the rain no less. I made no ‘notes’ this trip, no intinerary….just Betty, me and my trusty phone. I realize as I look at the website for the vintage store on the small screen of my iPhone – I’m not all that and a bag of chips when it comes to navigation and travelling in a very large city. The store location – Brooklyn – not Manhattan. Lesson learned, Plan B in affect.
Plan B was non-existent, so we improvise. Jump in a cab and head to the area of Webster Hall. Food at this point is necessary. We find a noodle house and stuff our faces, drink a little and dry out (from the rain, we are drinking cocktails). Time starts to get the better of us and we leave, find a place to charge phones (Starbucks), then because this particular coffee house has the most disgusting bathrooms ever we wander again in search of a pleasant facility in order to change. Nordstom’s is the place to be….quite lovely.
We get to Webster Hall, get in line, get into the venue, and beeline for the bar and get a cocktail. Gambit plays first. The energy was amazing and both Betty and I were thrilled to see them live after many many rotations of their songs on our iPods. Lyle chatted with us after their set and thanked us for coming out early to see them. Well of course we were, he sent me stickers in the mail and we tagged Toronto with Gambit QR codes, it was mandatory that we be there in time to see this set. We sing along ‘don’t you keep your feet on the ground’……we live by this everyday. Gambit gives away tunes right now, so I suggest you click here www.gambitofficial.com and download now. Twitter feeds gambitofficial and email teasers suggest new music coming really really soon.
Hesta Prynn, the sexy flaming redhead that can sing, rap and dance, was up next. Describing Hesta Prynn and her music in one word ‘stylin’ – she’s uber cool and can belt it out. She’s describes herself on her website “I’m a child of the ’90s. I take all of these different sounds, influences and genres and come up with something cohesive and tangible. We kept calling it ‘post-everything.’ It’s post-hipster, post-genre and post-pop.” We’ve talked about her many times at Beat & Lyric, and it’s because we love her, she is fabulous. Many HP tunes are on my running playlist and now my EP even says ‘run fast’. Thank you HP, you get me up so many hills. There is much talk of new tunes on her twitter feed @hestaprynnmusic and her website www.hestaprynn.com Please check her out, you won’t be disappointed.
Band # 3, Hot Chelle Rae. While I liked them and looked them up after the show, I must say that they didn’t stick with me. They had a good set and it helped build anticipation within the crowd. I’m still not sure over 9 months later why they didn’t stick, perhaps they are a bit too pop, too much like everything else out there and there wasn’t a connection between me the concert goer and them the band. The other two openers were already on my iPod, they were friends and part of the inner-circle of the main attraction – Ryan Star – so perhaps I am discounting them for lack of knowing. Don’t let me influence you though, check them out www.hotchellerae.com
The main event – www.rstar.net Ryan’s set is EXPLOSIVE. After years of me wondering if I was insane to have this connection the music, always thinking perhaps I was delusional, perhaps it wasn’t as ‘good’ as I thought it was…..there was Betty transfixed and totally being drawn in by the music, by the passion. It was a moment of vindication and I was squealing with delight – it may even have been out loud. The set (thanks @videethis) Brand New Day, Right Now, 11:59, Waiting for Love, Last Train Home, Breathe, Psycho Suicidal Girls, The One You Know, Take a Ride, We Can Work it Out (nice Beatles tribute), Start a Fire, then the encore of Sink or Swim and Back of your Car, although somewhere in there was Losing My Religion came out, I know I heard it. I can’t say I hated any of it (and why would I?), the Beatles cover was a nice surprise but honestly I would have rather one my Youtube favourites that I have seen Ryan pull of – Leonard Cohen’s Everybody Knows. I suppose too melancholy for such an intense show? If the first three songs were a blur, then Waiting for Love snapped me back to reality, I still feel that song resonate through my ribcage from the night – the anticipation as it began, the arrangement live turns this ‘notsofavouriteonthealbumtune’ into one of the best of Ryan’s in live performance. I want to label this my favourite of the night, I want to but 9ish months later it’s hard to pinpoint, can I get a rewind and play again to make sure? I will remain non-commital.
Here is “Breathe” from that night straight from my iPhone.
Fast Forward to after the set.
Ryan is immediately at the Merchandise table to meet and greet fans (it’s his thing). We sort of stay back a bit but weasel up in a different direction. We are standing there watching him chit chat with others, sign things etc. He’s getting pulled in every direction because there are so many people that are friends, his family is there too. He was very gracious and did what he could to keep up.
At one point when I was standing RIGHT next to him the security person from the venue starts separating the crowd and telling them there will be no more – they want to close. Ryan of course pipes up “don’t yell at them please” then directs his attention to the herd getting booted “stick around outside, I will be out soon and will sign and chit chat more out there’.
My thoughts are no way am I waiting around in the rain so I grab his arm (nicely) and put my hand in his and say “He Ryan, we met back in Toronto when you played there, we flew in for your show tonight”. His jawdrops and he says “you came all the way from Canada?” then pulls his hand out of mine and gives me a hug.
He signs my CD cover, takes a photo, does the same with Betty and then thanks us for coming all that way. At this point I decide to go in for the kill.
Dino, I thank you for this.
I said “Ryan, I’m not sure how much you know about the lecture series that you may have a potential invite for at McGill in Montreal”. He looks at me with intrigue and then I say “my friend is the one that works there and I am the one that had her submit your name’.
Again the jawdrop. He says “THAT WAS YOU? Your awesome for doing that, I love when my fans do stuff like that” (insert giant hug #2 – not that I was counting).
At this point he says “there is an after party, Canada needs to come” pointing at me and Beth. Beth of course got her hugs too….as she was a ‘show virgin’ as he put it. I asked him where the ‘after party’ was and I he said ‘I will let you know’ but apparently he said “I will tweet the address”. He did tweet the address for others, and of course we made our way there.
I’m not going to bore you with the details of the after-party, how we made our way on foot there, or Ryan leading a band of young girls too young for the after-party outside the show in a thrilling rendition of “Oh Canada” but I will say a few things about Ryan’s amazing friends. Stoney is quite the conversationalist and I was glad to chat with him again, Serena is a sweet-heart and I am glad that we still connect online from time to time since this show.
I do want to tell you about our adventure after the after-party though. The cab ride to Newark was stinky, Mr. Cab Driver had the worst gas…..hard to sleep through. Homeless poets wondering the Food Court make for good stories and giving him the last of our US money likely bought us some karma with security coming back to Canada. Canadian Customs are just as suspicious of our travel habits as the guards entering the US. Good girls have nothing to worry about, even if they don’t declare the concert shirts and CDs they purchased (well one was a freebie).
A new adventure is on the horizon. Betty and I are making our way to Erie Pennsylvania to see Ryan open for the Goo Goo Dolls, shopping will happen this trip and we will subject two friends (if I can find any that don’t suck) to an RStar show, we will make them drink the cool-aid.
I leave you with a promise, a promise that Betty Beat will post a list, a giant list of her thoughts on the NYC overnight R-Star adventure. I know she will, and if she doesn’t then I will sell her ticket to the next adventure to the highest bidder