This was supposed to be a maudlin, melancholy post. I’d been preparing it, almost bracing myself for it, for a few weeks, coming up with all sorts of anguished things to write as I waited for the event that took place this past Saturday. But Saturday has come and gone, and now that it’s time to put those words to paper, I find that I can’t do it. Not because the words aren’t there, but because they aren’t the right words. I’m not maudlin or melancholy at all. In a surprising turn of events, I’ve found myself uplifted. Happy. And feeling so damned fortunate.
I mentioned in my last post that after Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls wrapped up this most recent tour, a run that would culminate in their biggest show in the U.S. to date, they wouldn’t be coming back to America for quite a while. A year, maybe longer. What I neglected to tell you is that, in the face of that interminably long wait, I’d decided that last month’s Chicago shows wouldn’t – couldn’t – be the last time I saw them before they headed back to Europe. My fear of missing out on something that promised to be quite special was too great. So on Friday, I boarded a plane bound for Boston, where the Agganis Arena would host a few thousand FT fans the following day for his first American arena show.
It’s a weird thing to be excited for something and to dread it at the same time. But that was how I felt about the weekend. I had preemptive post-concert depression made worse by the knowledge that this thing that had become dear to me would be taken away for an indeterminate amount of time. I couldn’t wait to get on that plane but I never wanted that day to come. It was an odd, unsettled, unhappy state to be in, and I fully expected that cloud to not only linger through the show and into the days after, but to worsen.
But that didn’t happen. In the hours prior to the show, I didn’t have time to wallow in self-pity for what I thought I was about to lose – I spent my time among friends, laughing and reminiscing, wandering a vibrant city at night and then again in the hushed hours of the morning. Even standing in the queue for an ungodly four hours before the venue doors opened turned into something memorable, as new acquaintances and old bonded over shared experiences and Oreo brownies. (That camaraderie is, after all, is a huge component of a Frank Turner show.) After the mad, stressful dash (yes, dash. Don’t ask, I’m still mortified at the indignity of it all) to the barrier in front of the stage, breathless with exertion and excitement and anticipation, I realized that, far from the sadness I was expecting to feel, I was instead completely, utterly happy. Nearly euphoric. I recognized that right at that moment, I was exactly where I most wanted to be in the world. I was where I belonged.
It goes without saying that the show was incredible. How could it have been anything but? More, it was the best representation I’ve seen yet of everything Frank wants his shows to be – a community of caring, compassionate individuals all having fun while looking out for one another. That it was such a big audience in a city with a reputation for rowdiness was surprising and made it that much more meaningful. And judging by the smile that he couldn’t seem to wipe from his face, I think that Frank would concur. Those two hours seemed to last no longer than a heartbeat. Before I knew it, I was saying goodbye to friends, people who have been in my life such a short time but who have come to mean so much, and promising that we’d see each other at the next gig…whenever that would be.
Fourteen months. That’s the length of time between my first Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls show and this most recent one in Boston. It feels like just yesterday, but it also could have been a lifetime ago. And those months have been revelatory. I thought I knew myself well, but I’ve found, and am still finding, that there are aspects of myself lying quiet, dormant, waiting for a catalyst to spark them into existence. For reasons I still can’t quite comprehend, Frank and the Souls were one of these sparks. My life would not be the same without them in it, and I shudder to think of how empty that life would be. I’m so grateful for them, and all the people I’ve met through them, and all the experiences I’ve had because of them.
‘Til next time, and with all my love. ❤