It was already 20 minutes into the show, but we acted as if we were there since the beginning and started to dance. It was amazing to see them again. The Zolas. Third time, live. Third time's the charm?
It's raining, our city of Vancouver, but I throw my umbrella into my backpack and let it all go. We sing to the next few songs, even the parts we don't know the words to. Katie's boyfriend holds their umbrella above her, and this is the most adorable thing I have ever seen. I look over at them, make sure they're enjoying it. I don't know why, but I do this a lot, look over at people I mean. Katie hands me some cookies. I realize I haven't eaten anything all day.
Eight o'clock comes too quickly. 'Marlaina Kamikaze' is one of the last songs. I groan when it's over, and wonder who the song is about.
After the Zolas finish, we walk around, sign up for a few contests, and generally loiter. Hey Ocean! is next but from what I gather of the songs I've heard online, I'm not too fond of them. Their show changes my mind. "She was playing her flute and jumping up and down, how does she do it?" Katie tells me when I phone her after the festival, while skytrain-ing back home to good ol' Langley (didn't have to bus because my mom picked me up at King George, thank you).
My friends leave at the end of Hey Ocean! so I call up Aashish, a guy from my dorm, who I randomly saw with a group of kids earlier during the festival. I can't find them, so I decide to go buy a cup of tea. I shouldn't have because dancing is awkward while holding a scalding hot drink.
Somehow I spot Aashish and his friends, and they stay 'til the third song from Said the Whale. I meet Tiffany, another cool Asian with great taste in music. She tells me the names of all the members of the band. I tell her the guys named Tyler and Nathan are both really cute. A drunk, possibly stoned, 55 year old man yells and whistles loudly beside us, and this is the funniest thing I have ever seen and heard, "SMELLS LIKE VANCOUVER!" -- whistleeee -- "PLAY THAT SHIT FO' THE KIDS!" The group of kids behind him walk off, a bit frightened. I laugh because it's honestly ridiculous, but I'm happy that there are people of all ages and backgrounds in the crowd. It's like, this music isn't just for kids who fit in 'the scene' (i.e. hipsters [no connotation intended]) but for everybody. Music is for everybody.
My mom calls me just as Tyler tells the crowd they're singing the last song and will be standing by the Merch stand to "talk, we didn't bring any merch, we didn't know, but you can talk to us, don't have to buy anything". I walk towards the entrance, prepared to leave, and head towards the skytrain station.
"Have we met before?" Tom asks, his expression amiable. "No," I reply. "Well, I've 'met' you guys... at your shows. I've been to your shows. Seen you guys play, I mean."
We start talking and I feel like a complete loser. But I think Tom was buzzed so I'm sure the conversation seemed smoother on his end. He's a sarcastic guy, very funny but subtle with his humor. He always has something to say. Henry is sweet, friendly, tall. We walk back to the concert area. "Shit, I hung up on my mom," I say out loud to myself. She doesn't call back so I decide to just go with the flow. We talk about UBC, Gateman, chilli peppers, other stuff I can't remember because I'm just so shocked. I mean, two members of the Zolas are talking to me. Walking alongside me. I'm so shocked that I'm chill as a tray of ice cubes, and I've become socially adept. Somehow. Somehow.
Kids yell out that Tom's scarf is cool, "good job tonight!", and various other comments. Do they see me beside these two demigods and wonder who I am? Probably not. "I think your scarf is cool too," I say to Tom, as a joke really. But I did like his scarf.
Some younger kids I recognize from high school walk by and I say "hey" for no reason. They don't know me. Why did I just say "hey" as if I knew them? They come by to talk with Tom and Henry. Apparently one of them threw an O'Henry bar at, well, Henry, and Tom ate it. "You could've laced it with something," he says, laughing. "Is it weird that I ate it?" No, it isn't.
I ask for a photo. This is the most awkward moment. Four photos were taken on my Blackberry, all of them terrible. They make me smile. (Blackberry is shit, guys. Shit.)
We continue our quest, they greet some more fans at the front of the stage, say hi to Tyler. By now, I'm really happy and confused. Am I dreaming? Wait, what, how? Also, what the fuck does my hair and makeup look like right now? (I've been standing in rain for a really long time, okay.)
I don't know why I'm still walking with them. They're obviously headed backst-- "Come backstage," Tom says, handing me a green card on a lanyard that says ARTIST, in all caps no less.
"Oh, my God." I am not worthy, I am not worthy. The security guard looks at me, looks at the card which I thrust awkwardly in front of me, and lets us pass. We walk into a white tent consisting of four Ikea couches (Tom: "It's like they just bought an Ikea set and put it on Beatty [points at the yellow road line beneath one of the couch legs], and now we're sitting on a street"), three candles on the coffeetable, cans of pop and water, and a platter of veggies.
"Welcome to the glamour," Tom says with, of course, quiet sarcasm.
I'm introduced to Jay from Said the Whale and her boyfriend, a couple girls (friends/family of Said the Whale), and other band members. People push by me holding amps and guitar cases and keyboards, and I feel out of place. "Can I help with anything?"
"No, we're done cleaning up," Jay says.
I peer outside the tent and glance around quickly. Wow, so this is backstage. Wow. I better not be dreaming. I should pinch myself to make sure. I come back to the conversation. They are nice, down-to-earth, and all so oblivious to my giddiness. I think I made a few jokes. Then it's just Tom, Henry, and me again. We comment on the lack of beer in the tent. "Too bad Zach couldn't be here." They explain that Zach booked it after their performance and is now at a different show.
I make a joke about him and this supposedly fictional 'Marlaina', and suddenly Tom pulls out his iPhone and shows me pictures of her from Facebook (including some of Woody Allen). I'm too caught up to check out her real name, so basically I still have no clue who she is. "She's pretty. Is she real?"
"Oh, she's real. Zach's still hung up on her. All our songs are about her," he jokes but his face is serious. Henry's bent over laughing. He can't believe we're talking about her. "She's a model. In Europe right now."
"Oh, 'Cultured Man' is written about her too, isn't it?" I ask, and he nods. We talk some more: Henry's engaged, and everyone around him congratulates him; Tom was treasurer of a frat that his friends tried to start up back in university. It didn't last. Backstage people interrupt to tell us they're shutting down lights. "Okay, whatever."
The most random night ever ends too soon. Henry leaves. I carry some ponchos and stuff to their van. I hug everybody in sight, "it was nice to meet you", and smiles all around. Tom and Nathan of Said the Whale take the skytrain with me (I'm surprised they transit just like everybody else). Tom refuses to sing when I ask him to, tells me, "I play piano."
"Play the piano then... with your voice."
He doesn't say anything, just looks at me. Wow, I think to myself, that was a lame thing to say. But it's all good. We get on the Millenium line, and stand near the door, clutching the pole.
Nathan's 20, tells me he became a bassist for Said the Whale when he was 19. He was only a year older than me right now. Now this is his life. A musician. They're touring, and it's not bad. Home is good too, he tells me. But too much of one thing only, isn't.
He gives me a hug, gets off at Nanaimo. I walk off with him because I need to transfer to Expo line. We say goodbye a bit awkwardly like we don't know what to say. As soon as he disappears I break out in dance, not even caring what the other passengers think, like jumping up and down crazily, kicking and shit. In 10 seconds, I'm done, back to normal, headed back down to Earth. I call up my friends. I relate everything that happened to a guy on the skytrain, who hands me a card for "financial well-being" as he gets off at Surrey Central. (This is his website, by the way. I told him I'd blog about this.)
So this is my Saturday night.
Of course I arrive at King George half an hour after midnight, way later than I'm supposed to, and my mom is pissed.
I love Vancouver.
I love the music here.
Even the rain.