Saturday, October 22, 2011

Loving My Enemy Tonight

"If you're here, that means this is the best thing going on right now," the handsome bass player Matt told me when I arrived at the Camel.

Actually, there were two outstanding things going on at that moment (9:00) but I'd already taken in the first.

InLight had a different feel this year by virtue of being held in a central location rather than a streetscape; it seemed to make for more interaction among the attendees.

The first pieces I saw were lit boxes with cut-outs, including one that resembled a large creature.

Walking away from it, a guy came up behind me and said, "They stole that idea from Disney World. They have the same thing there but bigger. I just went there last month and saw it."

And here I just saw it for a whimsical and creative sea monster rather than stolen intellectual property.

Passing the lantern parade, I stopped in front of the RVA Dance Collective, who were doing a piece that ended with a scream.

"Well, that was interesting," a woman said sarcastically, rolling her eyes as she walked away.

Actually, it was. The sudden movements of the dancers, the still figures, all of it made for a visual treat that she clearly wasn't appreciating.

The interpretations using light were myriad. One showed lines of a Samuel Beckett poem and another just the face of a diva singing.

Since the aria was in Italian, it was all about the emotion in her face, which given her beauty and strength of voice, was considerable.

"Next! You can only look at that for so long," declared the man beside me to his friends leading them away after about five seconds of watching her sing.

It made me a little sad.

There was a lot more video this year, it seemed to me, focusing on things as disparate as "Recollections of Tredegar" to graffiti images from Broad Street and Fulton Hill.

Probably my favorite was a cloth-covered house with different video projections on the walls and roof.

Best of all, after you walked around to see all the various images, you could go inside it.

Standing inside with two guys sitting in the chairs there, I watched the shadows of kids dancing and frolicking outside against a video projection of a raging fire.

Flame images leaped up around their outstretched arms and bouncing forms.

The juxtaposition was fascinating, an unexpected moment that could not have been anticipated but captured the essence of InLight: people interacting with light.

To get to follow such a unique experience with great music was just a lucky break.

No two ways about it, I was excited to be seeing the Rosebuds again.

I'd first seen them back in early 2008 when they opened for British Seapower at the Satellite Ballroom in Charlottesville and again this summer at the National when they opened for Bon Iver.

And as much as I'd enjoyed them those times, seeing them in a small room like the Camel as the headliner was a guaranteed good time.

In yet another world-shaking moment, the show started on time, so many people missed White Laces' acoustic set.

Leader Landis admitted that they weren't used to playing acoustic and were going to make it a short set.

It was too bad because they played well and I would have liked for the crowd to have shut up, the better to hear them.

They did two covers ("This is the second song tonight we didn't write and that's disgusting," Landis said) in the five song-set.

Every time I hear these guys, their sound is slightly different and every time I like it.

Prabir and the Goldrush were up at bat next and I'm happy to report that Matt's bass was high enough in the mix to hear, not always the case, but a pleasure when it happens.

Why have an instrument that big if you can't hear it if you're in the audience?

It took forever to get the sound worked out for the Rosebuds, but the eager crowd waited without complaining.

It was the last night of their tour and they were happy to be playing to a small, enthusiastic crowd who obligingly sang along every time they were asked.

"F**k it, this is a dance song,"  lead singer Ivan said introducing "Get Up, Get Out" and you'd better believe people danced.

For that matter, the crowd went wild for the dancey "Woods" (coincidentally, full of light imagery) especially the two middle aged couples right in front of me.

They were definitely getting down with their bad selves.

My long-time concert buddy Andrew walked up to me, looked down, grinned and shook his head.

This has happened to us a time or two before; we attract the unexpected dancers and then sit back and watch.

I suppose if we had rhythm, we'd be dancing as uninhibitedly as they do.

A musician friend mentioned how poppy the Rosebuds are, unclear as to how they were considered indie when their sound could potentially suit the mainstream.

As if pop and indie are mutually exclusive. But to each his own.

In his defense, he had just come from a Dead Kennedys cover band rehearsal, so the transition may have been a bit tough.

Not so the transition from InLight to the Rosebuds.

Two superlatives in one night. It couldn't have been easier...or more satisfying.


  1. tell your musician friend to get over himself.
    it's ALL "pop" music.
    yes, even, i'm sorry to say, the dead kennedys.

  2. And I know you've been one of pop music's most vocal disciples at least since I met you in, what, 1992?

    From "Naive/Waiting" through "Still Naive" your pop aesthetic is masterful.

    But then, you already knew that.

  3. 20 years of shear pop bliss!