Celebrity encounters, so comparatively common for the denizens of New York, are very often disappointing, embarrassing, or both. The Pretty People sometimes smell horrible (I won't name names), treat you rudely (up yours, Pink!), or simply render one so star-struck that she says something incredibly stupid to them. (Apologies to both Susan Sarandon and Mike Myers are appropriate here. Oh, and William Forsythe, too. Yikes. Sorry guys. Really.)
Thankfully, this was so, SO not the case this past Saturday, when Tim
and I were lucky enough to attend Cloud Cult's Mercury Lounge
show, and to hang out with the band a bit afterwards. Wow. I've been so profoundly, wonderfully affected by the whole experience that it took me this long to sum up the words to describe it.
I am so enamored with and inspired by this band, their music
, their journey
, and everything they stand for
, that had they been buttholes, I would have been entirely heartbroken. They turned out to be, quite literally, some of the nicest people I've ever met.
The show was nothing short of incredible, especially from our front-and-center vantage point. They played every song I'd been hoping to to hear, from both their new
and previous albums (how often does that
happen?), with a casual sense of precision and kind, happy energy. These kids from rural Minnesota had a typically snotty, arms-impassively-crossed crowd of New York hipsters actually dancing,
and singing their songs back to them word for word. Meanwhile, artists Connie Minowa and Scott West created stunning paintings onstage along with the music. All senses were engaged. It was amazing.
At the end of the set, Tim gallantly grabbed the setlist off of Craig Minowa's
synthesizer for me, and we headed out to the bar. There, we met up with Connie, who greeted me with a warm hug and spent the next 20 minutes pleasantly tolerating my semi-coherent flood of admiration. When I asked her to sign the setlist, it took her five solid minutes to craft an appropriate note. Who does that? Unbelievably sweet and beautiful.
Craig (who is also Connie's husband), is the anti-rockstar. He too hugged and thanked me post-show, and stayed around to talk with the remaining fans. He tolerated my teasing him about his smoking (and then fully busted me for taking a pull off Tim's cigarette), as well as the pajama-esque pants he wore onstage ("but they're comfortable
!") The guy is a musical genius/organic farmer/environmental scientist who provides consultation to the United Nations and survived the tragic loss of his only child, yet he remains remarkably affable, humble, and perhaps even a bit shy. He puts to shame the self-important, low-or-no-talent, diva-esque nobodies who pass for music idols these days. He reminds me...and this is no hyperbole here, people...of John Lennon, both in his immeasurable talent, and his commitment to leaving a better world behind after he's gone.
The best part is, I have no doubt that Craig will accomplish just that. The fans were absolutely nuts over these guys, and I'm sure anyone who was there would gush as unabashedly as I am. Perhaps it's because everyone in the band is just as awesome as Craig and Connie, but Cloud Cult seems to have an almost magical effect on people. I wasn't kidding earlier...I saw hipsters dance. If that's not magic, I don't know what is. People are paying attention to this band's mission, and only good can come from that.
Eventually, Tim and I left the band at the club and ventured out into the Jersey-trash nightmare that the Lower East Side has become. I had a soon-to-be-framed setlist signed by everyone except drummer Dan Greenwood (next time!), and proceeded to float three feet off the ground for several days to follow.
It goes without saying that I encourage you to listen to and buy Cloud Cult's music, under the following conditions:
- Buy CDs directly from their site. They're an indie band (by choice!), and that maximizes their profits (ALL of which are donated to environmental causes, by the way. Yeah.)
- Listen to the CDs in order of release. Especially the four most recent. That will make more sense if you read Connie's bio, linked above.
For my Denver peeps: You'll have the chance to see them at the Larimer Lounge on May 10. Buy advance tickets here. It'd be the best seven bucks you spend this year even if I wasn't gonna be there. Which I totally am. So it totally will be. Ayep.
I stole this picture of the new record's cover from their site, obviously. I'll post my own photos when they get developed, if they don't suck that much. And my new boyfriend will be with me at the Denver show, so photos and hopefully some video will most definitely be posted.