i still haven't thought of how to explain this. my vocabulary is vast and every superlative i think of cannot thoroughly describe what i just experienced.
hyperbolic? nope, it was that awe inspiring. So what was it:
the man himself at madison square garden on 1/18.
i have written about my love for this man a couple of times and how badly i wanted to see him in december. well i went with my rationality and decided not to make that trip. and not a few days into my winter break did i learn that the show was cancelled. i breathed a sigh of relief and joy as i learned of a new show. i kept my eye on it but it seemed so far away. i kept my focus on my time at home which was so needed. my family rejuvenates me.
but the kid is kinda omnipresent. not only did i hear his music [without me playing it that is] but apparently one of my sisters went to one of the shows in new jersey. i had to sit through her excited rantings about the show that i had already read was ridiculously good. she bounced around telling me of songs and all the encores and i thought:
'how am i going to get to the next show?"
i knew it would make my year and when i returned to raleigh i found a cheap flight and an amazing seat and said eff it. this was going to be my adventure for the semester, shoot maybe the whole year. nothing was going to stop me from getting my experience: first trip to nyc and first time seeing my musical alpha and omega. well the weather tried as hard as it could to stop me. flight was delayed for a couple of hours with rain and ice in new york. when we exited the plane, [actually down the steps onto the runway which i have never done before] it was raining sideways. totally gray and white and cold.
welcome to new york.
but i still wasn't gonna let it stop my vibe even though my hopes of having a nice trek down museum mile were slashed, i took the shuttle to penn station. i was petrified in that car! nyc driving is not for the weak of heart but i survived. i met up with my long lost but never forgotten brother from another and had lunch. through this whirlwind it still really hadn't hit me that i was about to see him. not until i was wandering around the gates of madison square garden looking at the pictures and the sounds of lets go crazy began to permeate the air. it was like a scene from a movie. i began to follow the sounds trying to find the source, smiling the whole way, and i realized it was being pumped through the speakers. the lights were gleaming purple and his face was on the jumbotron outside.
this was real.
after meeting up with some purple people for food and laughs, i found myself in the crowd funneling into the garden. it was time. i made my way to my seat and had a moment when i realized how good my seats were. now i could go through the setlist and tell all the little details but the thing i want to capture if i can is the feeling. that transient thing that you and those around you felt. you cannot get it from pictures, not even from video.
you have to be there. and for once, i was.
it was obvious that he was in good mood and that he was going to use every last second of time he had. with one amazing opening act with sharon jones and the dap kings, the kid had time to burn. when i first saw his silhouette through the smoke, standing on top of the purple piano with his flashing light heels, i took one of those shuddering deep breaths you take when looking over the edge of a cliff. i knew i was jumping head first into an experience that was going to be unrivaled for the rest of my life. i knew that he was feeling us before the first note was played. it felt like i was in the sights of a playful cat and he began with a tease and continued to work us over for more than two hours. along with features from sharon, the dap kings and maceo parker, he put on a show.
operative word being show.
he was on form, showing us how a master works. he can make you dance, sing, scream, swoon, and hold your breath. he composed the vibe and held it in his palm for safe keeping. i felt synced with his mood as he grooved into songs that i had wished for but thought i may never hear. i screamed out 'omg!" when he began she's always in my hair. i sang every word, swayed to each rhythm and managed not to cry. laughing and smiling and struck dumb, i felt like i had been done over. an enitre relationship of seduction, interactions, and drawn out farewells. his influence is staggering. i knew about it but feeling it is unreal. listening to the conversations around me while there told his legend. an elderly woman told of how she was there with her middle aged daughters who brought their children. a middle aged man spoke of how he r&b'd and rocked and "r.kelly can't do that and neither can any rock guy." when walking out i took my time but when i finally stood still i felt myself vibrating. my legs bouncing and hands shaking. once our group met up again the look on their faces anticipated my response as they knew it was my first. i jumped up and down and shared in their joy because we knew we had just seen something special.
we were high. but my night was far from over.
we ventured to brooklyn where we knew maceo was playing and perhaps prince would show up. he didn't but i'm happy we choose to attend rather than standing outside at his exclusive afterparty growing bitter. maceo was on his game with lettuce at his back. even questlove showed up to jam for a bit. he performed night and day with ray charles sunglasses on and went out with pass the peas. i could feel the drums in my chest and my skin growing hot as the jam went on. i danced only feet from the man. i was in a musical heaven that i still don't think i have come out of or ever will. if nothing else good happens this year, i can think of this. i can remember seeing and feeling brilliance. i can remember fellowship and camaraderie with strangers. i can remember dancing and singing into the night to songs that define my life with the man that made them possible.
i don't know if i can truly demonstrate my love for this man, his music, and the experience he just gave me. i came with love as he feels like kin to me and i got it back. of all the words that fail, two will have to suffice: thank you.