Having played baseball since I was old enough to hold a bat and toss a ball, there’s one thing that the game’s taught me about live music; it’s that noticing and appreciating the “little things” makes all the difference.
And when you notice the hidden nuances about your surroundings during the show, you also begin to discover what separates an average show from a great show and why certain shows have stronger subtexts and significance than others.
In the case of singer-songwriter Justin Vernon of Bon Iver, it was his “that was then” tattoo on the back of his neck that added meaning and helped me understand what made his performance at Pitchfork Music Festival last summer one of my favorite in 2008.
But it wasn’t until a few weeks ago that I began to discover this.
When my wife Colleen showed me this picture she took of the back of Vernon’s neck, it was then that I began to connect the story of the subtext of that tattoo with what I experienced during the show, a connection that I didn’t initially see during his set at Pitchfork Music Festival.
Ever since Colleen showed me this picture I’ve been on the lookout for other little details about that show and others shows I’ve been to. I’ve been looking for the little things that make some concerts more memorable that others. Because when I saw that tattoo I wondered “What did it mean? Why did he have it on the back of his neck?” Was it inspirational to his music? Did it mark a transition in his songwriting or personal journey?”
I continue to wonder about that tattoo and the other “little things” I’ve noticed at concerts. Because I’ve begun to realize that they have an immense power to quietly influence the show and send the emotional fervor flowing strong and furious from the artist’s heart to our hearts unsuspectingly–during or even months after a show.
What “little things” have you noticed about a show? What did they reveal to you that you didn’t noticed before? Was it a tattoo? A piece of jewelry? A comment the artist said in between songs?
Update: Jade, a gracious Live Fix reader, reminded me to note that Bon Iver is the band/stage name of Justin Vernon.