Imagine being in the same room as not just your favorite musical artists, but idols.
You listen to them every day. That is all that is playing in your headphones 24/7. They take you to another place.
Suddenly, you’re in the same 100-person maximum capacity space as them. They are just having a nice night off. It does not feel real. They can’t possibly be right in front of you.
On Monday, June 13, I had no idea what was to come when I woke up that morning.
Little did I know I would be meeting not just one, but multiple worldwide known artists in the alternative/indie rock sector, including one of my favorite bands, Tame Impala.
After work that night, I took the subway a few stops downtown to The Roxy Hotel. When I walked in, I was guided to The Django, the musical space where I would be seeing Jay “Gum” Watson, the synth player for Tame Impala play a solo show.
I was the first one there, 30 minutes before doors opened. The marquee sign promoting the show outside the club door was being tended to by an employee.
Five minutes later, I see Jay walking down the staircase. I walked over and introduced myself and told him a funny story about the last Open Mic Night I played. Backstory: I was playing “Feels Like We Only Go Backwards” by Tame Impala on violin over the backing instrumental track. When I play, I do look up into the audience, but not in all directions. I am in my own zone. Little did I know, there was a couple at the front table passionately making out during my performance. I was made aware of this from multiple sources afterwards and still to this day think that’s amazing.
My main catchphrase of the evening was, “I’m really sorry to be that person, I know you get this all the time, but can I please get a picture with you?”
Jay obliged and also signed my notebook afterwards. My night was made right there. I had met another member of one of my favorite bands, Tame Impala.
Jay then went inside to soundcheck.
When I attend concerts, I never expect anything… ever. Even when things are flat-out guaranteed with a ribbon, I am never convinced with anything in life, no matter what.
While I was waiting for doors to open, I spotted someone awfully familiar making their way down the staircase. I froze in my tracks, because it was Dom Simper, the synth/guitar player for Tame Impala. I introduced myself, shook his hand and got a picture and autograph. Dom was a very sweet and soft-spoken guy.
What an insane night already, I thought. I’ve accomplished meeting half of the members of Tame Impala I had yet to meet someday in less than an hour. (I had met Cam Avery, the bassist back in April).
Doors opened and I took a seat by the tiny stage and grabbed some water. I sat back down and just enjoyed the relaxing atmosphere.
I just could not believe I was in the same room as most of Tame Impala just enjoying the evening. It was baffling to me how they could just be hanging out at such a small venue, without being bombarded by fans. Yes, obviously there were a few pictures taken with some, more with others. But still. They expected a few moments like that.
I was observing the club from my chair and spotted someone in the back-room bar that looked strangely familiar to Mac DeMarco. I thought to myself that all of this excitement must be making me delirious and making me see things. Then I said to myself, “all of this happened tonight already. Take a chance and go over there, why the hell not?”
So, that’s exactly what I did. We both made eye contact and I hesitantly asked, “are you Mac?” And believe it or not, it was Mac DeMarco. I don’t know how this came up, but I told him I love hockey and I’m a sports journalist. Mac said, “I don’t follow hockey, but I’m from Canada. Do you know Connor McDavid? I heard people absolutely love him.” I told him I was just listening to his music while writing a story at work a few hours before. It was the greatest 10 minute conversation about journalism and just a casual conversation with not a worldwide famous musical artist, but a person. Mac was as down-to-Earth as you could possibly get. I got a picture and autograph and we headed to the stage area because the show was starting.
I came to the consensus that the night was “Disney World.” When you are five, the excitement of being at Disney World and seeing characters sporadically out of nowhere is something you cannot bear. You are on top of the world, meeting your heroes.
That is exactly what the night was like, and somehow it was not even close to being over yet. The surprises kept on coming.
I was in the front row enjoying Lord Fascinator’s set when I feel a tap on my shoulder. It was Cerise, a huge Tame Impala fan who I met at Cam Avery’s solo show back in April. We greeted each other previously before Lord Fascinator’s set began. She whispered, “Dude, Kevin is back by the back-room bar. Go meet him before everybody else notices.”
I maneuvered my way out of the crowd immediately and into the back-room bar area. I see one of my biggest idols, Kevin Parker, the mind behind, lead singer, guitar player and musical genius of Tame Impala. “No way,” I thought. He was in conversation with someone so I stood aside. A few seconds later he turned around and looked at me. I mustered up the courage to introduce myself. I told him something I wanted to tell him if I ever had the chance. My voice choked up instantly as I said “Your music and hard work means the world to me. No matter what, I can listen to your music and automatically be genuinely happy, no matter what is going on or how I am feeling. You have gotten me through so much and continue to do so and that means the world to me. I can’t possibly thank you enough.”
He was touched. “Awww, that’s so sweet, come here,” he said as he hugged me.
That hug was one of the greatest moments I’ve ever had. It was purely emotional and let me know how much he appreciated what I said to him. It gave me comfort.
Anything was possible at that point. Anything was possible after I met Jay before doors even opened. I told myself to just go with the flow, something that seemed impossible when you had just met (and gotten photos with) your favorite musicians and idols.
I went to the front row for Jay’s set. To see someone from such a huge band play solo and you’re right on top of the stage area basically is surreal.
A few minutes into the set, I looked to my left and saw Kevin, standing in the same half-circle row a few feet away from me. To my right at about the same distance was Mac DeMarco. Both were enjoying the show and supporting their friend.
Kevin occasionally shouted remarks at Jay, just like a fan would at a concert to support their favorite band.
Mac DeMarco handed Jay a shot of tequila. They were just being fans in a crowd of ordinary people. It was incredible to watch that.
About 90 other people and myself, Kevin Parker and Mac DeMarco were just dancing along to the music. Musicians, who are usually in the spotlight on the stage, were just spectators for this night. To see people enjoying themselves and having the time of their lives, no matter how famous or how ordinary was a touching sight to see and be apart of. This is the way life should be always. No pain, no fear, no worries, no darkness, just pure bliss.
The entire night, I could not believe that these people, who when you watch them online just don’t seem real…were. You idolize them and are convinced they just can’t be right in front of you. Those who have bands as their idols know the feeling well. But they are people…actual, genuine people. They just want to forget about the world and struggles of life, even for a little while, just like you.
I never wanted to leave that dimly light, tiny room where any miracle could happen. Being in that room took away all of the bad… it brought pure happiness. Because that… that was heaven.