Recently, I traveled to Washington, DC, to see Lorde. I stayed with my cousin Kathy, who was a perfect host. (Seriously, fam, if Kathy asks you if you want to go to a concert with her — especially if it’s at The Anthem — go. She and her family are lovely hosts.)
In an ironic twist, I wore an Afghan Whigs t-shirt to the show. I had brought two outfits to choose from to wear, but neither one turned out to be weather appropriate. So I went with a concert tee, long black sweater, jeans, and combat-style boots. It was the right call.
As we were eating a little dinner and having a drink at a place next to the venue, Kathy asked, “What do you like about the Afghan Whigs?”
Readers, I had an answer easily to hand. “They capture a darkness in their music that I recognize.” (For a longer version of this answer, see here.) I think we are attracted to the artists to whom we are attracted because we understand them, but we haven’t been able to express ourselves.
Going to see Lorde — for that matter, listening to Lorde — is a different experience than listening to the Afghan Whigs, to be sure. While there is a bitterness to Lorde’s themes and music, the darkness of Dulli is not there. She captures a youthful, hopeful, pained romantic vibe in her songs. Dulli is betrayed and betrayer, and he relishes the pain of both. Lorde is the injured party, and she owns her pain, holds her head up, and carries on.
I enjoyed the Lorde show for the energy that thrummed throughout the entire venue. When I go to see the Whigs, I tend to focus on the stage and on my own enjoyment. At Lorde, I felt very caught up in the hopeful enthusiasm around me.
It was clear that Lorde was feeding off her audience as well. This tour had been a series of arena shows until The Anthem stop. So she and her entourage were coming off a lot of shows in front of tens of thousands of people to an audience of about 6,000 people. “I can reach out and touch you,” Lorde said, delighted. “I can see your faces.”
I think the artists we go to see feed off of us as much as we feed off of them, truly. Else, why do it? Being on the road for months on end has got to be grueling. The reward must be more than financial.
Anyhoo, Lorde played all her hits, and chatted with the audience. I had a wonderful time, not just at the show, but also visiting family. It was my two favorite things put together.
Less than a week later, I was seeing the Afghan Whigs live, right up front, and bellowing the words to “Honky’s Ladder.” (It’s my favorite AW song. In four tours, this was the first time I had seen them play it.) And before, during, and after, and to this day, I think: Go find you some live art to take in, be it rock music, a play, a gallery opening. Art keeps you young. Find your people, and go.
On a final note, “Writer in the Dark” is my song. I’ve lived this. As many an ex-boyfriend and current husband can attest.
I love ya, babe.