Every relationship has a soundtrack. Mine and Sara’s is made up of various bands, occasional screaming, kitchen clatter, Harmontown podcasts, and the relatively new sound of Jack Henry laughing and/or crying.
One of the bands that has been there since the beginning is Okkervil River.
Sara introduced me to the band. It was 2005 and we were circling each other cautiously; feeling each other out, both of us trying to determine if the other one was a safe place to land.
Sara stepped out on the limb first and asked me to go with her to an Okkervil River show in Louisville.
A few weeks later we drove to Louisville in a van we borrowed from my parents. My buddy Paul rode along. For some reason Sara’s ex boyfriend was at the show and decided to hang out with us.
I remember lots about that night. I remember the band counting off songs in unison. I remember the trumpet player playing weird ambient sounds into a mic through an old tape deck. I remember the entire band singing the final lines of the closing number acapella. I remember every song fighting it’s way out of lead singer Will Sheff like a death rattle (in a good way). It was one of my favorite shows ever.
On the ride home, Sara and I took turns playing each other songs on our respective iPods (To this day hearing Killian’s Red by Nada Surf takes me back to that night, rocketing down I64 in my parent’s minivan). Paul sat quitely in the back.
Later that night I kissed Sara for the first time in the hallway of her apartment, a foot away from her roommate’s door.
Fastforward almost nine years, a wedding, new jobs, a couple of houses and the arrival of a tiny, strong-willed Sesame Street enthusiast. Sara’s mom got us tickets to an Okkervil River show in Louisville for my birthday. I was excited. It would be a nice little trek down memory lane for Sara and me.
Last night, the night before the show, we got a phonecall from the venue saying the show was cancelled. “Construction delays.” The band was playing in Indianapolis that night, however, and sent a bus to Louisville to pick up any fans who wanted to come to that show - FREE OF CHARGE. How awesome is that? Sara and I couldn’t make it, though.
I was totally bummed. I lamented on Twitter:
Cue Will Sheff and the following conversation:
Pretty freaking awesome, huh?
So tonight, Sara and I got to sit in a little room with 30 or so public radio donors and listen to one of our foundational bands give it all they’ve got.
Nine years later, they are still one of our favorite bands. More polished. Not as raw. Excellent players. Heart felt. More than that, though, it was so nice of them to reach out to us and offer us this experience.
If you’re not familiar with the band, check ‘em out: