It’s a good thing I have become resolute in my decision not to date musicians, because last week I was surrounded by them. My friend Jo Ann is the cousin of one of the band members of Relient K, and he hooked us up with backstage passes to watch the show from the wings and hang out with the band before they performed.
I’ve had backstage passes before. This summer, I went behind the scenes at an Eric Paslay concert, got to meet him, and even got my photo with the 6’4″ country artist. I was on the front row that night, singing harmony at the top of my lungs to “Friday Night” and “Less Than Whole“.
But this time with Jo Ann was different. The fact that she knew one of the band members personally – he was literally family – added a whole new layer to the experience. Instead of waiting in line for a five second photo op, we all went out to dinner together a few hours before showtime and shared a bottle of wine. We talked music for sure – his songwriting style and what a day in the life of a touring musician looks like – but we also talked about his love of golf, what his kids wore for Halloween this year and his hopes, dreams and aspirations for the future.
Then we got a tour of the bus. Jo Ann’s cousin is a good guy, so when he used the classic rockstar pick up line, “Want to see the inside of the tour bus?”, he did so with a twinkle in his eye. It was neat to see their living space – bunk beds, TVs and a PS2. It was somehow more chill and down-to-earth than I expected.
All of the band members were really mellow and friendly. The bass guitarist offered me a beer, and the lead singer gathered everyone for a group photo. Even five minutes before they went on stage, all the guys were really relaxed and personable. Kind. Humble. Sweet. They were just regular thirty-something guys hanging out and living life. I felt blessed to get a glimpse into their world.
Before he went on, Jo Ann’s cousin rolled some trunks together on Stage Right for me to sit on with Jo Ann and Melanie, another friend who came along that night. This was our view of the stage:
From our vantage point, I got to see a lot that I never would have from the audience: Matt Thiessen’s wink to his guitar tech as they traded out guitars, an “oops” face when he missed some lyrics, and his drawing of an upward arch over his mouth with his index finger, reminding the guys to smile. I also got to see two different stage dives from the perspective of the stage, and all I can say is: Wow, those guys are fearless!
Jo Ann sang along to nearly every song, and Melanie and I were constantly grinning from ear to ear. Our cheeks hurt from smiling by the end of the evening. It was a blast. The Relient K guys are talented performers and absolutely great guys, just as fun and charming off stage as they are on stage.
They sang two of my favorites from my high school days: “Be My Escape” and “Sadie Hawkins Dance“. But their second-to-last song was my favorite. It’s a new one that they haven’t even recorded yet, but it was simply stunning both musically and lyrically. Here are the first lines:
“I remember when a photograph was worth a thousand words.
Now a thousand pictures come my way every day.
And I like them all the same but they can’t take my breath away… Look on up.”