Wednesday, September 28, 2011


This was a summer of crazy weather and personal journeys through hell and back. It was also a summer of lessons and growth, and it began and ended with concerts at the Charlottesville Pavilion.

The first show was The Arcade Fire in early June. The night was hot as hell at show time  — well past 90 degrees still. The band turned it on, though. The energy was great. I got texts from friends close to the stage and decided to hang back after aborted attempts to wade into the roiling, steamy crowd. it was a good show, though, and somewhere on my phone is a happy picture that belies the tensions that were already in the final stages of destroying our relationship.

The counterpoint to this show was seeing The Avett Brothers with the kid a couple weeks ago. Where the Arcade Fire show was tightly choreographed with a defined setlist. The Avetts show was the opposite. It felt loose from the moment they hit they stage, down to forgotten lyrics and missed cues. Still, it was a brilliant show. They were obviously happy to be on stage and engaged with the audience. And it felt more honest than the tighter, cleaner show at the beginning of the summer.

In the end, the bookends seem more stark than sandwiching a concert in on an "off" night in early June and taking the kid for a show I knew she'd enjoy in early September. (I wasn't the only dad who thought that, either, given the number of dads with daughters on the lawn that night.) The real kicker, though, is that I remember the tension at the first concert, and soon after, all hell broke loose. It wouldn't really calm down for another two months or so. In that time, life took some drastic turns; I discovered how powerful and insidious PTSD could be; and I spent a great deal of time gaining perspective, healing myself, and working on my relationship with the kid.

And that's where The Avett Brothers show really stands out in stark contrast. We barely made it to dinner at Mas Tapas and barely made it to the show, but I felt more relaxed than I'd felt in ages. Chalk the easing up to some positive turns in life in general and feeling like I'd finally been released from a strange, bad dream. Chalk it up to that, in part. But chalk it up also to watching the kid play with her glow sticks and smile as she curled up on the blanket next to me as the concert was winding down. And chalk it up to realizing — finally — that I was back in ways I hadn't been for years.