Friday, May 1, 2015

Concert Review: A Silent Film - Secret Rooms

Photo credit: Megan Gotch
A Silent Film (Robert Stevenson and Spencer Walker) never, ever let me down. Their music always inspires me and reaches out to me, as if I were a part of its melody. Their kindness to me and other fans always impresses me because after a long (very long) road trip, setting up their instruments, and playing a show, they are always pleased to talk with their fans, take pictures, and sign autographs. And it is all genuine. It seemed impossible (inhuman, even) that they could get any better. Well, they did.
Last November, I flew to Portland to see them play. It was the first show they had played in over a year, so I got on a plane and flew to Oregon. In February, they released their single "Tomorrow" and also announced that they would be touring - but it wasn't a "normal" tour. This was the Secret Rooms tour, in only a few cities, and with a limited amount of fans selected for tickets by a lottery. Salt Lake City was not one of the cities so I was resolved to wait until the full tour was announced. However, my sweet friend Shawnte (who I met because of our mutual love of this band) was selected in the lottery for the Seattle show - and she invited me as her guest. This time, my husband got on the plane with me and we flew to Seattle. I didn't know what to expect from the Secret Rooms tour, but I knew it was going to be a once in a lifetime experience, something totally different and completely special.

The location of the venue wasn't revealed to ticket holders until a few days before the show. Additionally, the venue wasn't a usual concert venue - not a club, amphitheater, stadium, etc. This was at the Ballard Homestead, a very small, quaint space. The instruments had been set up in the middle of the floor and chairs and stools were situated all around them. No stage, minimal lighting, and a very small crowd of maybe forty fans. This was most definitely going to be an unforgettable evening with my band, my boys - A Silent Film.

They didn't begin their show with music - nope, another surprise for the fans was that they took a few moments to introduce the concept of this tour and why they were doing it. They then allowed each fan one-on-one time with them so they could meet the fans they were playing for. I was so excited for my husband to finally meet this band that I had been (*healthily*) obsessed with for four years. (He'd never been able to go to a show, as he is an airline pilot and his schedule is never ideal.) I was surprised--although I shouldn't have been, given how sweet they are to their fans--when they were excited to meet him! We were able to talk with them for a few minutes and get our picture before heading back into the Secret Room to await the show.
They began their set with their new song "Message in the Sand" and then moved into their well-known "Harbour Lights." This version was nothing like I'd heard before live, although a taste of it can be heard on their Sycamore Tapes. From the first note of their set to the last reverberation, I had a lump in my throat. The tears fell during "Strong Enough," for many, many personal reasons (and one because I related to the reason it was written). I was absolutely stunned by their cover of "Pictures of You" by The Cure, not only because it was a great cover, but because Spencer Walker, usually seen behind the drums and singing backing vocals, came out and played the bass. He surprised me even further by sitting down at Robert's piano and playing during "Lavender Fields." I knew these boys (men - but to me, they're "my boys" or "the lads") were talented, but to see how multitalented and hardworking they are was beyond anything I could have asked for in a show.

They stepped away from their microphones and Spencer picked up a harmonica (add that to the ever-growing list of instruments Spencer Walker can play) to play an a cappella version of "Danny, Dakota, and the Wishing Well." The tears almost fell again when they played "Where the Snowbirds Have Flown," because, if I have to choose a favorite song, that one would be it. It's lyrically and musically gorgeous, and contains one of the most perfect lines of poetry: "When love rolls through your body like thunder and I am the storm cloud..." Robert Stevenson is, and will always be, one of my favorite poets. I hope to inspire someone in the way his words have inspired me: they never fail to set my pen on fire.

After the set, they took time to answer questions from their fans. They also asked a question - they had an extra set of Secret Rooms playing cards, which they had designed and used for the seating assignments, and they decided (apparently right on the spot) to have a quiz. Robert said he was "genuinely interested" in knowing whether a zebra was white with black stripes or black with white stripes. How lucky that I watched Planet Earth. :) I raised my hand and answered correctly: black with white stripes. I was ecstatic that I won, not just because I got the cards, but because I got the answer right. Quite honestly, I think Robert is a genius so any time I can answer any question of his correctly, I'm going to feel pretty proud.

As we left the show, we were each given a signed poster and an envelope that contained gifts from the band. So not only are these lads talented, kind, and gracious, they are exceptionally generous.

A little note about the friendships I've made because of ASF: their music has brought so many special people into my life, friends I know I'll have for the rest of my life. I have to give special love to Shawnte Pearson for inviting me to Seattle to experience Secret Rooms and for her strength during "Strong Enough;" to Megan Gotch for her constant support, guidance, and love; and to Noel "Noul," because she's my Middle-earth mate. As always, I'm counting down until I can see ASF again. But in the meantime, I'm going to continue to turn up the volume, sing even though I'll be off tune, dance with my daughters, and write...always write...when I listen to ASF.