Skip to main content

Live Music: The Beatles

Last night, Dan and I went to hear Classical Mystery Tour, a Beatles cover band that played alongside the San Francisco Symphony.  It was a trip.  I swear, the whole time I was there, I was blogging.  I didn't take a single note, but every new thing that happened was getting filed away as: oh my, I need to blog this.

I love live music, even when it's not very good.  I love getting caught up in the whole event of a performance, in the enormous bravery it takes to stand in front of people and play music for them.  I was spoiled in undergrad with a wealth of opportunities to hear live music in cafes most nights of the week.  It wasn't always good, but it was always earnest, and sometimes it was really, really good.  San Francisco's live music scene isn't as easy to navigate.  If it's free, then it's painfully crowded.  Oftentimes when it's not free, it is also painfully crowded.  If it's not free, it can be quite expensive, which makes me inclined to see things I already know I like, rather than try something new.  And then there's always 70,000 other things going on the same night, so it's easy to miss something.

All that to say, I've been craving some live music.  Enter Classical Mystery Tour.   The night began with a cocktail.
I love many things about a performance at the San Francisco Symphony, not least of which is a well-made martini

Our seats were fairly nose-bleedy (had to save some money for the aforementioned martini), but still decent.  And then the music began.  And then I was reminded about the problem with live music: all the other people there.  I was immediately distracted by two women sitting directly behind me who began singing along with the music and clapping an inch from my ear.  Throughout the performance, there were a couple invitations from the band for the audience to sing along.  These ladies took it to the next level and just sang along with everything, sometimes even when the band wasn't singing.  I found this particularly annoying when they sang along to songs I didn't know as well, since I could hear them better than I could hear the performers.  

It's remarkable the power one head has over your view.  One woman leaning over the balcony obliterated 20% of the stage for me with her head, and a man right in front of me leaning in to illuminate what was going on to his young son sitting next to him obliterated another 20% of the stage.  I could still hear what was being performed, but not being able to see it left me even more distracted.  I couldn't help noticing the couple next to me, likely on a first-ish date.  He was WAY into the performance and she sat very stiffly throughout it.  Which made me finally realize I was being as annoying as she was by not just enjoying myself.  

The experience of live music is a very body experience: you notice how comfortable (or un-) your seat is, you can't stop paying attention to the people in front of you shifting side to side, you're hot, then cold, then hot, then thirsty, then you have to pee, itch your ear, re-cross your legs without accidentally kicking the guy's head in front of your (or doing it on purpose if that is required).  All while really excellent music is going on around you.  

Finally, right before intermission and even more so after, I was able to just go with it.  Which meant I was still only listening to little bits at a time.  But now I was transported, the music provided the scaffolding to all the memories that arose.  I did not grow up with the Beatles, and in fact, only began listening to their music a year ago, because Dan is a fan.  So the memories sparked had nothing to do with the actual songs.  Music often makes me think of my family: my mother, father, step mother and brother are all musical wizards.  I remembered my mom telling me once in church that it didn't matter if you sang well during the hymns, it just mattered that you sang loudly.  At the time I thought she was talking about herself, but now I'm not so sure.  

The entire second half was a lovely blur of emotions and memories and music.  At one point I tuned back in to the present and wondered if those playing in the symphony ever wondered where people's minds wandered to during a performance.  I imagined everyone in the theater sitting together, but also simultaneously elsewhere, remembering their own moments.  I hope that there is at least one member of the symphony who feels proud of their skill in creating transportation this way.  What a gift to be able to create that moment for someone else through your talent and impressive practice.  

The band was very fun, the symphony fantastic, but by far the person who stole the show for me was Sarah Hicks.  I have never encountered a conductor as hot as she.  She was the biggest rock star on stage with her sequined tank, long sleek white pants and ridiculously awesome heels.  She swayed and danced the entire concert.  In my next life I want to come back as her.  

The view of City Hall in the fog.  I've had a crush on that building for a while now.

My need for live music has been sated, a little, for now.  But I see a Stern Grove concert in my future soon.  


  1. I am always saying that music is like a time machine for me. It always transports me back in time and then makes me realize how far I have come. Thanks for sharing your story about how difficult to be present when sitting with 500+ people that you do not know. I am glad that you were able to finally enjoy the night. I too absolutely love live music and feel the same way you do about seeing bands play. It can be quite the crap shoot in the Bay Area. We are fortunate to have so much entertainment to choose from!


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

The 2018 Iceland Report: Part Last

The exciting (or at least the inevitable) conclusion of Part One and Part Two of Icelandic awesomeness....

Day Six: Ekra Cottage/ Lagarfljótsvirkjun to Höfn
This day was all about epic scenery. Kilometer after kilometer of stunning beauty. The ever-shifting sweeping views afforded us herds of wild reindeer, giant snowy fjords, a mossy valley, snow blowing across the road like dry ice, lava rock, waterfalls. It was a total feast.

Our halfway point was Djúpivogur which houses a collection of giant roadside marble eggs, each one fashioned after a particular type of bird's egg.

We arrived in Höfn and checked out the harbor and the free museum (a welcome respite from the windy harbor) before checking into our guesthouse. Which we had all to ourselves. We made one last meal of fusilli and bell pepper (fusilli meal #4 for the trip for those keeping track - I'll be taking a good long break from fusilli now) and read. I found a left-behind copy of The Silence of the Sea by Yrsa Sigurðar…

Time, as understood in the fourth trimester

Having a baby is not unlike accidentally slipping into a science fiction universe, everything you know is so completely upended. I wrote an essay about how my sense of time shifted out from under me in the first months of my daughter's life. 

Excerpts in italics are from the essay The Beginning Of Time, by Stephen W. Hawking

The time scale of the universe is very long compared to that for human life. It was therefore not surprising that until recently, the universe was thought to be essentially static and unchanging in time.

The Longest Shortest Time is the name of a podcast on parenting that I heard about several years before becoming a parent and filed away mentally. “The days are long but the years are short” is another phrase used to both comfort and cajole new parents. The implication is that parenting shifts your experience of time, as if life simply advancing in years wasn’t enough to do the same. One hour of an infant screaming inconsolably after her two month immunizatio…

Quarterly Reading Report: Q2

The end of the second quarter snuck up on me: it feels like only three weeks have passed since my last quarterly report. Part of the speedy passing of time was from all the good books I've been reading lately. I've already told you how much I loved re-reading The Magic Summer. Here are my other favorites from this season:

Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal, by Mary Roach. This gem is from one of my favorite local authors. Mary Roach's sense of humor should really get it's own zip code, it's so wonderful. I learned a great deal, sometimes about things I wasn't sure I wanted to know (like how to properly use flatus in a sentence), and I can't tell you the amount of times per week I find myself thinking about the nutritional content of my dinner compared to my cats' on account of this book.

As a delighted listener once said at a reading she did: "You keep writing books about exactly the thing I'm most interested in, except I didn't know I…