Dear 9:30 Club,
The first time I went to the 9:30 Club, I accidentally barricaded Nate Ruess in the green room bathroom. It was for a work thing. Not the barricading the performer in the bathroom–that was an accident–but the events leading up to the accidental barricading. We were having our holiday party at the 9:30 Club and I got there early to help set up.
After that, standing on the upstairs balcony, watching the band run through sound check, I wanted to live in that moment, in that quiet before the storm. I fell in love with the 9:30 Club long before I fell in love with any one band I saw play there.
My first concert in college was at this venue in Austin called Red 7. I didn’t tell my mom; all night my stomach was in knots because I was afraid she was going to somehow find out I’d left my dorm on a school night to go to another city with a boy to listen to rap music.
The concert was an intimate affair, the performers walking around before the show, mingling at the merch booth. I stopped talking when Dessa walked by, looking like she could murder someone with cheekbones as sharp as knives. I felt like I was going to be sick from the cold and the nerves and the excitement.
When the music started, we were right in the thick of it. Everyone was screaming and there was this feeling building in my chest, growing and growing like it might choke me unless I started yelling too. The beat was so heavy, it felt like it had sunk itself deep into my bones and was rewiring everything. I stopped jumping and shouting to put my fingers to my pulse and make sure that hadn’t changed as well.
Not all concerts are created equal; there are a lot of of variables for what make a perfect show. There’s the obvious ones like the band and their music, the sound and the venue and the crowd. And then the other, equally important, ones like the weather and if your hair looks good or not and if you’re wearing comfortable shoes for dancing. Not all of my best shows have been at the 9:30 Club but there have been enough for me to feel like it’s a magic place.
I was at the 9:30 Club on Friday night for ZZ Ward, and again on Monday for X Ambassadors. For ZZ Ward, Abby got food poisoning so I tucked her in on my couch and went to the show alone. For X Ambassadors, the first 5 minutes were so good I nearly cried. There was this moment, somewhere in the middle, where I was screaming and jumping and dancing, all at the same time, where I thought: I was made for this moment.
This isn’t where I thought I’d be with my life. I didn’t grow up dreaming about going to multiple concerts a week or having a career or traveling. I wanted to be married with babies–Teddy, Scarlett, Vivian–with a sunroom office where I did lots of writing.
All of this to say that I’m making this whole thing up–the letters, the cards, the goals–as I go along. Sometimes it’s terrifying. Sometimes I have to put my fingers to my pulse to make sure that hasn’t changed as well. Nowhere makes me more grateful, make me more aware of how far I’ve come, makes me check my pulse–before or after or during a show–than the 9:30 Club.