Unexpected Glass Doors, Over the Rhine, Etcetera Whatever

Last night Over the Rhine played at the Largo in West Hollywood. It was hands down one of the best venues I've ever been to - a theater with a red velvet curtain, comfy seats, and excellent sound. I'm still kicking myself for not being irresponsible and going to the Saturday night show as well, as is my usual practice when OtR is in town. Ordinarily, they play the same setlist -give or take a couple - both nights. This time around, it was two entirely different shows. Saturday was cabaret night, Sunday night was church.

But I'm getting ahead of myself.

I was supposed to meet my friend Sara at Real Food Daily a little after six 'o clock. I parked in the Largo parking garage and headed to the nearest stairwell. Let me add that I was walking quite purposefully at this point; even though it was only six in the evening, it was dark out, and parking garages + darkness = me nervous. So I'm walking along, again, quite purposefully. You might even say quickly. Suddenly I was no longer walking but was reeling, and trying to figure out how the glass wall got there. I'm surprised I didn't break my glasses, and I have a very, very tender bump by my eye that has thankfully not blossomed into a full-fledged shiner. Yet, anyway.

No one saw me crash, which is a good thing. Although it wouldn't have been a good thing if I'd passed out or, because as it turns out my stairwell wasn't a stairwell at all, but an entrance to a closed business. It may have been awhile until someone found me.

As it was, I had to call Ben as soon as I could to tell him that I'd just run into a wall. I am not the kind of person who can just run into a wall and let it pass. When I run into a wall, I have to tell someone. Immediately. (I apparently also have to tell lots of someones, hence this post.)

Head injury dramas behind me, I went to the restaurant. Sara was running a little late, so I got to hang out and watch Over the Rhine come in and sit at the table right in front of me. It totally reminded me of sitting in close proximity to them during dinner before their show at Brady's Cafe, all the way back in 2001. Except that we weren't at a smoky coffeehouse in Kent anymore, but a vegan cafe in West Hollywood. Oh, life.

Dinner was great (collard greens, soba noodles, and tempeh... yum!). The opening act, Katie Herzig, was great. (You can download an acoustic album free at her website, and it is well worth the space on your hard drive.)

And then, Over the Rhine.

I have tried and failed repeatedly to put into words what this music means to me. A couple years ago some Apples (i.e., mega fans who frequent the Orchard, OtR's message board) invited fans to contribute writing or art about OtR. I couldn't do it. I couldn't find the words to match the words this band has put into my life. Words like

What a beautiful piece of heartache this has all turned out to be.
Lord knows we've learned the hard way all about healthy apathy.
And I use these words pretty loosely.
There's so much more to life than words.

They started the show with Latter Days. I've heard shows start or finish with Latter Days before, but this time it really got me. That's the first song of theirs I ever heard, back in March of 2000. Almost ten years ago. The band had already been around for ten years at that point, but their second ten years amounts to almost a third of my life. A proportion that will continue to grow as this band continues to be my favorite band into the foreseeable future.

As I mentioned, Sunday night's show was as churchy as church. Jesus in New Orleans, Angel Band, Changes Come, Long Lost Brother, etcetera whatever (the phrase, not the song. They didn't play Etcetera Whatever, which is indeed a lovely OtR song).

They really know how to take it to church.

What always sort of floors me about my entirely serendipitous discovery of OtR those ten years ago, is that I knew they would be my favorite band before I knew they were deeply spiritual, before I knew they were from Ohio, before I knew... well, much of anything. I heard ten bars of one song, and essentially made a commitment. This is and will be my music. And the music has carried me so well through so much. Faith, doubt, marriage, childbirth. Etcetera, whatever.

When it comes to wanting what’s real
There’s no such thing as greed
I hope this night puts down deep roots
I hope we plant a seed
‘Cause I don’t wanna waste your time
With music you don’t need.

Oh, I need it all right.

Thank you, Over the Rhine.

(And thanks a lot, invisible glass door.)

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