Experiencing Nickel Creek was almost perfect. So, before I go into what ruined the show for me, I'll talk about all the things that worked so well.
If there's one thing we could all agree on it's that Ikeda Theatre was a perfect match for Nickel Creek. Even Chris Thile loved it, by mentioning how beautiful the room was. The harmonies in the Ikeda Theatre rang like a bell, you could hear each string being plucked and strummed.
The band entered the stage to a roaring applause. It had been seven years since the last time we had heard from the progressive bluegrass trio, so the audience had waited patiently and couldn't hold in their excitement anymore. Chris Thile began the set with "Rest of My Life," which is the first track from their last album, A Dotted Line. The second tune was an instrumental jam where Chris would roam the stage with charisma and mandolin mastery, back and forth between Sara Watkins, sweet and sassy fiddler player, and her brother Sean, the guitar player.
When they played "Destination", Sara stepped forward with the microphone, leaving behind the fiddle, and took the role of frontwoman. Her voice really soared through the theater and hit the back wall with power. When the next song began, Chris sang "A Lighthouse's Tale," and the audience cheered. It didn't take long for me to figure out which songs were the crowd favorites. Sean began "21st of May" by explaining that he wrote the tune based off a billboard he saw as a public service announcement for the rumored rapture to take place on May 21, 2012. It's during this song that I notice that Sean is either sick or losing his voice, as some of his notes did not fully deliver, but he still remained strong.
Instrumental songs were always fun, because their faces said everything, without needed lyrics to describe what the song was about. Most of the instrumental jams had stories behind them, and Chris began one song with the phrase, "Every word in this next song is true." It was almost like the instrumental jams were conversations, as each member moved from one to another. You can tell the band grew up together, because they share glances and inside jokes and bounce off of each other musically.
Sara came forward and played "Anthony" on a ukulele, and eventually the rest of the band circled around her to provide harmonies. But when the band performed "When You Come Back Down," the audience sang along with Chris' encouragement, and it was a choir of hopeful lyrics. And, during "Elephant in the Corn" the bassist enjoyed a youthful solo that allowed him to truly shine. The band even performed two cover songs and made them their own creations: Fleetwood Mac's "Ledge" and Mother Mother's "Hayloft."
Now comes the part that really upset me. The band finished their set, bowed to a standing ovation, left the stage, and came back for an encore. The band is playing a beautiful, intricate introduction to a song that I would later find out is called "Helena" (most people were requesting "Helena" during the evening). However, during the silent transition from the introduction to the lyrical ballad, the mood was immediately ruined for everyone in the theater, because a rude man decided to make the show all about him.
In the row in front of me and two seats to the right, a gentleman was snapping photos throughout the evening (great photos, might I add). The man behind him, who just happened to be sitting two seats to my right, grew frustrated and said "PUT DOWN THE PHONE, ASSHOLE!" in the most quiet and intimate moment of the evening. People around were gasping. The precious moment was gone.
Look, I get it. You're annoyed. But, might I add not being rude and try tapping the man on the shoulder and suggesting he ease up on the photos? Or, simply, get over it?
Honestly, after that awkward moment, I hesitated to take out my phone, especially during the heartbreaking and breathtaking last song, when the band came to the front of the stage with no microphones or amplifications and performed "Where Is Love Now?" I wanted to snap a photo of the silhouettes of the band members. But, I didn't want this man raging at me.
So, Mr. I-Made-The-Show-Uncomfortable-For-Everyone-So-I-Could-Enjoy-Myself, if you were looking for someone to throw you a pity party because you had to watch the show through someone's lens, you sure didn't get it from me. But, I hope you enjoyed the show that I did for 95 percent of the time. Maybe next time, you bring your manners to the show with you.
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