When you think of a the possible situation going into a show, both as a promoter and a musician, you think of the following things:
I hope people show up. I hope it sounds okay. I hope people order enough drinks to have a good time. I hope people buy some of the merch. I just hope it goes well.
What you don't expect amongst the concerns, chaos, and worries that come with events like these, is to walk away from it feeling overwhelmed with joy, success, and inspiration. You don't expect to pack out the entire venue, or for the sound to somehow literally be perfect, and for people to not give a shit about going to the bar to get a drink because the thought of deterring their attention from the live performance for even a second isn't worth it, or that there will be just a select few albums left at the end of the night to purchase because people are in line to grab one. You don't expect it to be a dream. You don't expect any of that, because how could you?
Live music is one of the only parts of the industry that is still alive, but is also the part that will never - and I mean never - die. We live in a small town. I'm not going to pretend like we're a super important city that people dream of going to and bands prioritize on a tour. We are simple, complex people. We are low maintenance with high goals. We are the wild cards. We are a community based off of taking chances, and even more than that, creating chances. We are art, music, friendship, stress, collaboration. We are sleepless nights and neurotic tendencies. We are drinks on a Friday
night and coffee meetings on a Saturday
morning. No, we aren't a huge place. And no, we all may not ever be on the cover of Rolling Stone.
But do you know what we are doing? We are creating something that has never happened here before. A town that was just like most charming southern towns on the east coast has become a hub for creativity and community and there are a few staple people in that movement. One of the most prominent and spectacular of those is the talented musicians of The Coastal Collective.
I remember the first time I saw this band. I've been a huge fan of people like Snarky Puppy and Vulfpeck for years, and I've always had an appreciation for hip hop. I knew I would find things like that when I lived in Atlanta, and Seattle, and even other quirky music towns like Athens. I never, not in a million years, thought I would find it here. I was absolutely blown away. Watching Jared rapping about positivity, escaping (and accepting) self doubt and realizing that is part of being a human, understanding your path, and being open to the love around you made me literally stop in my tracks. With the swarming sounds of a horn section and insane keyboard skills in the background, I couldn't even figure out where to put my attention. I was standing still and alone in a crowd of people dancing and I was absolutely, and completely, mesmerized.
Flash forward about a year, and we've built beautiful friendships and relationships together. Jared and the boys have been unreal with their support of the store, our record selection, and the changes we are trying to make in the community. So much so, that when we decided to do a show with them at Bourgie Nights, Jared thought it would be a great idea to combine forces and have it be their EP Release Show - having so many layers to it and making it an event that couldn't be missed. Of course, I jumped to the opportunity like I would if someone offered me a day of laying in bed and watching rom coms with my cats.
The night was filled with so much more than just music. There was live art being created by The Revolution Awaits. Which, are you kidding?! So incredible. The guys of local podcast, Malty Gravity, came in and acted as hype men to get everyone ready for the night ahead through laughter. There was an opening act by U.N.I.T.Y, who are good friends of The Coastal Collective and did everything that an opener ever could and would to get the vibe ready and the energy high for what was next. Also, they broke out in a Beyonce dance number at one point. Is there anything better in this world? The answer is no. There was merch for sale, cds for purchase, and so much love being passed around from people in the community.
The Coastal Collective hit the stage and I genuinely believe it couldn't have been better. Cam Tinklenberg, their keyboard player, had to stay in Toronto to wrap up finals so he couldn't come in for it. But worry not, we had my laptop ready to Facetime him the second it started. People were able to walk up and say hey, send their love and best wishes, and boogie down with him through the screen. The Coastal Collective played their EP in its entirety, and then went into other captivating songs, including a Jay-Z cover to wrap up the night.
It had been about a year since I first saw them. I stood on the steps next to the stage and looked out on the sea of people who had come to support this event, and I saw everything. I saw the woman in her wheelchair in the very front of the crowd dancing with her husband. I saw the couple drinking wine, kissing and laughing because there was no way there was a better moment out there than this exact one - being surrounded by high energy, love and community. There were friends dancing together, fans singing and waving their hands alone, and strangers meeting.
And amongst all of that, there were a handful of people just like me the first time I saw them. Just standing, mesmerized. Caught in the moment. Completely blown away. In total awe of every aspect of what was happening. I stood there watching them, and thought to myself, "Man, I totally get where your head is at right now".
That night was the most exciting, refreshing, and rewarding event we have ever done. We started doing shows as a way to give the talented people here a place to go, but we never expected it to turn into what it has. And that's really what we love to do. So no, we aren't a huge place. And no, we all may not ever be on the cover of Rolling Stone. But here is what we are. We are one, really. We are a force. An energy. A change. We are talent, and connection, and trust. We are music. We are growth. We are inspired, and we are inspiring. And as far as I'm concerned, that's the best title a person, business, or musician could ever ask for.
There will be many more nights like this ahead. I want to take a second to thank Haley Smith and Matt Marino, our photographer and videographer, for capturing the night. I want to thank U.N.I.T.Y and The Coastal Collective for everything they do for music, their fans, and this town. I want to thank Bourgie Nights, Billy Melon and Sean Gerard for working with us consistently and believing in what we are doing. I want to thank the massive number of people that came to see that live show and took the time to thank us personally. I want to thank Malty Gravity for providing a laugh and The Revolution Awaits for providing beautiful merchandise and live art. I just want to thank everyone in Wilmington for the support and belief. There is truly something so magical happening here.