Expectations about anything can blow up in someone’s face almost at will. Anticipating anything can end up being dangerous once things get going, and events rarely transpire as predicted. My experience at Trampled by Turtles and Calexico really is the epitome of that statement. I went into that show extremely excited to see a wild blue grass band in Trampled By Turtles and left with a new found love and respect for Calexico.
The night started with me amping myself up to dance myself silly to the insanely upbeat tempos that I knew I could expect from Trampled By Turtles. The one problem though: there were SO MANY OLD PEOPLE at the show. I knew it was going to be a different setting of people the minute I walked into Sunshine and I was not patted down. In fact all they did was ask if I had a lighter and as I skeptically tilted my head at the question, almost forgetting to say no I did not, they just pushed me on. The security guard didn’t even notice my hesitation.
When I got to the floor, I was amazed to find that all the old people also were allowed to bring their beers to the floor, which was just another first in the series of firsts that were occurring that night. But something did not feel right. I don’t think it was the BBQ smell that permeated the entire theater, but it was something. As the opener finally got off the stage, I realized what it was: no one was actually going to be dancing as intensely as I planned on. Trampled By Turtles came on with a very soft song and all of my worries surfaced to my face as I looked around, alarmed no one was worried that we were not dancing like lunatics yet. As I listened though, the song was indeed beautiful; I took a deep breath and attempted to enjoy the moment. When the next song started, much, much faster than the last: I decided to throw caution to the winds and began jumping up and down and whooping as the music kicked off in quick fashion. Luckily, the whole crowd was strangely OK with me making an utter fool of myself as I drummed on my chest and jumped up and down as the striking twang of the banjo echoed through the theater. It wasn’t quite the experience I was hoping for, that’s for sure. I had envisioned the entirety of Sunshine dancing and screaming and basically creating a sea of movement and joy. What I got was slightly less than that, but as the show went on I cared less and less. I got to dance, the music was sweet, and even if the old people around me weren’t dancing, they were still VERY happy.
I remember vibrantly a guy standing next to me who had the purest look of joy on his face I have ever seen. He didn’t for a second get annoyed with me jostling him around as I danced my heart out, in fact, he didn’t even notice. He was just so enraptured in the music and the sounds that were entering his ears. The highlight of the entire set though, had to be when for one track, Trampled By Turtles had a strobe light flashing and blinking in rhythm to the fastest song they played all night. Even some of the old people began to jump for that song and the energy that the strobe light created was very powerful. As they exited the stage after their last song, I realized I was impressed with them even if the experience wasn’t exactly as I pictured it would be.
For Calexico we made our way closer to the stage in the hopes that there would be more dancing and young people. Not really knowing if Calexico was going to have dancing music was something I tried not to think about because I still had quite a bit of energy left in me. I’ll have to say, they were a band quite like any other I had ever seen live. There was quite a bit of youth in their aged persona they carried themselves with around the stage, but what really stuck out to me was the happiness that they had for the music they were creating. There is a huge difference between adults and kids, and I mean true adults, which in my book means people over the age of 35. A lot of the musical acts I see are composed of people who have yet to truly come to the appreciation of what it means to have the privilege of playing music for a living. There was pure, un- adulterated joy on the faces of the members of Calexico as they made their music though, and Trampled By Turtles for that matter was filled with the same energy. They understand what it means to be able to go and do what is in their heart day in and day out. That was the biggest thing that I got from this concert: the proof that music can still mean more than life itself to people. I know some of the younger acts I like and have seen live sometimes need to rely on drugs to have a good performance, or in the worst case scenario just don’t have a good performance at all. I can honestly say, Calexico has never, ever had a poor performance simply because they love music too much.
Aside from that social commentary, I really did enjoy the music I was hearing. The combination of trumpets and guitars is always fun and when that is topped off with Mexican screeching, well, that about sets me up for a great time. The solos of the trumpeters and guitarist alike were magnificent, and it was really refreshing to hear artists solo and actually get the crowd to respond. It reminded me of my younger days in Jazz band, and it was pretty cool to remember that feeling of a cheering crowd while soloing. Another thing that Calexico was absolutely terrific at was getting the crowd to clap along with their songs. And not just clap on the beat. There were some complicated patterns that they got us going for a decent amount of time. They got the crowd to get involved every single time they wanted them to, and it all comes back to the fact they were honestly having the time of their lives up there on stage. In fact, they had such a good time, they played us not one, but two encores which is something that has yet to happen to me in my concert going experiences. It was amazing to know that our crowd had done that good of a job of impressing the band that we deserved that much extra music.
In the end, both bands did one thing that I needed. They reminded me that music is everlasting and can never truly leave the soul of someone who has been touched by it. I pray to God that when I am that old, I will still be that in love with music.