We played a show in SLC the other night to a sold out crowd. This is something that still blows me away. I’m usually happy if anyone shows up at all.
Since I didn’t grow up as a performer, most of my experience with live music has been as a fan. And that’s still something I love. I love the feeling I get being in a room full of people who for a moment are on the same page as I am. I love seeing the passion that the artist brings, the stories they tell, the show they put on. I love the lights, the sounds, the energy. There are so many feelings. Things I don’t feel in other places.
And it was only until a few years ago that this has been the only experience I have had with live music. I never really thought about what it might be like to be on the stage.
Over the years, playing multiple shows in multiple cities, my perspective has changed. I think people would be surprised at how ordinary someone on a stage might feel, based on my experience, at least.
For instance, a lot of time I worry that what I’m wearing isn’t the right thing, or that I look so sweaty that someone will think I ran to the venue. I worry that I can’t hear myself singing as clearly as I would like to so I might be off-key at some points. I sometimes try to make jokes that hundreds of people will laugh at… yikes. Or something happens, like my pedal sliding forward mid-song, and I don’t want to bend down and move it. So I grab it with my foot instead and wonder if anyone noticed.
But then I look in the crowd — I see someone closing their eyes, having a moment where they’re completely into the song. I see a couple looking at each other smiling, so happy and content. I see someone else and then we make eye contact. Which is sometimes weird but sometimes not. Sometimes we have this magical, unromantic, down-to-earth moment between the two of us. And I wonder why they came, what they’re struggling with right now, and if they are enjoying themselves. In a split second it seems like something is communicated between us. And that helps me to stop worrying about all the unimportant stuff, because I came here for a reason.
The reason is the fans. It’s the people. This life is about the people. What I’m doing is for them. It’s for you. It’s for me too, of course, but mostly it’s for you.
It’s for that person I made eye contact with. For the guy who came that is struggling with a sickness that is slowly taking his life and for his wife who stands by him steady and courageously. For the woman who told me how much she needed that tonight. For the guy struggling to find his place in this world. For the extremely nervous person who waited at the very end of the line just to stumble with his words and get out the simple “thank you” that he desperately wanted to.
So I guess what I’m trying to say is, I’m nervous too. None of us really know what we’re doing, but we just keep rolling with it. And thank you for rolling with us, because I really feel that we’re on the same team here.