rock crowd throw your arms around me

Of all the bands and musicians I currently list among my favorites, I have had the longest standing relationship with Pete Yorn. And I think, until last night, that was something I sort of took for granted. His are the songs I never skip on shuffle, but they’re also the songs I pay the least amount of attention to—because I don’t have to, I know them all by heart.

Last night, in the florescent glow of the Cannery Ballroom’s lights, I remembered why I fell in love with him in the first place and why I continue to listen to him, seven or so years later.

If I could ever categorically describe my “type” of guy, it would be Pete Yorn. A short guy with a tattoo here or there, brown eyes so dark they really are black, a five o’clock shadow masking his jaw, a shy smile that brings tiny dimples along with it. And any guy who can pull off the same haircut as me, well, he deserves a special place in my heart.

He was amazing, and every minute of his hour-and-a-half set was energetic and exciting. When I saw him in ’03 or ’04, he had wobbled on stage, drunk and taciturn, but had still played his heart out. Then, two summers ago, when he opened for Dave Matthews, I was stuck in the lawn at Riverbend, squinting to catch a glimpse of him on the jumbotron and barely hearing anything. I’m close to calling last night’s show the Rock Concert of the Year—and if Dave Bielanko hadn’t kissed me on stage in February, I think Pete would have surpassed all four of this year’s Marah shows put together.

I’ve never seen someone perform with such genuine enthusiasm and happiness; his mood was so infective that I didn’t realize how widely I was grinning until the show ended and I had to massage my cheeks to regain feeling in them. Even while he was singing his sad songs, his dimples kept peeking out and catching me by surprise. He’s a guy who clearly doesn’t take himself or his profession very seriously, but just really enjoys sharing his music with the people who appreciate it. (He even wrote an unreleased song called “Rock Crowd” about how he feels great when he’s surrounded by his fans—and when he performed it during the encore, it was so devoid of ego that it was impossible not to believe the sentiment.)

He played a really fantastic mix of old and new songs, starting off with “Strange Condition” and moving into “Paradise Cove”. He’s a wonderful singer and songwriter, but more than anything else, he’s a storyteller. He talked about the characters of his songs, Billy, Carlos, Nancy, and the young couple from “Just Another Girl” who grew up and grew apart and how he thinks he wrote “Country” about the end of their relationship. He played “Social Development Dance” and I could have sworn he blushed a little when he sang, “you kissed the best / you had enormous breasts.” He asked the crowd to sing the “Oh-oh-oh-ohs” of “Muarry” and he said, “This one’s for all of us” before he played “For Us.”

He played “Crystal Village,” the only song I’ve ever heard that made me cry the very first time I listened to it. He played “Life on a Chain” and I finally got to see “The Man” performed live. But the real highlights of the set didn’t come until the end. He played “On Your Side” and “Lose You” in succession and I’ve never had to try harder to keep it together than during those two songs. When he came back on stage for the encore, I knew my other two favorites were coming back with him. “Closet” was just as much fun to see live as I would have expected and I didn’t realize how loudly I had been singing along with him until he stopped singing the chorus and let the crowd take over and all I could hear was my scratchy voice in my ears. There was only one song left for him to play to ensure a perfect night for me. And, of course he saved the best for last.

He introduced “For Nancy” by saying, “This is a song that has saved my life more than once.” I have no idea what he meant by that, personally, but I nodded my head in agreement, nonetheless. I screamed along with everyone else and did my best not to look like I was listening to a song that really had saved, if not my life, than at least my sanity more than once. That song, and those lines—convince yourself that everything is alright / ‘cause it already is—will never cease to affect me.

His black t-shirt sweated through and his hair starting to stick to his face and neck, Pete Yorn thanked his Nashville fans and wished us all a good night. And it really couldn’t have been better.


One Response to “rock crowd throw your arms around me”

  1. 1 Scotty

    I brought my buddy Guz, who had never heard of Pete Yorn, to the Nashville show. He liked it pretty well with his favorite song being your piece title…”Rock Crowd”.

    He researched it and sent me your link to this story. I have not explored the rest of it but I will check it out.

    I plan on getting the Guz out to see Pat McGee when he plays Exit/In on Tue Aug 4th. Are you a Pat McGee fan? If you don’t know him, I think you may like him.

    in honor of Guz….”good talk”

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