While I didn't make it out to many shows this year, mysterious special guest star The Paper sure did. I'm proud to highlight the ten shows of 2016 that made his list of favorite shows.
I didn't know it then, but the Casket Girls show held more meaning than it did the night of the actual show. My first surprise was roughly halfway in the set when they each took out a black marker and small posterboard. Facing each other, they proceeded to draw while singing into the microphone. They continued the stunt through the entire duration of the song. It was more surreal than impressive and more impressive than entertaining. How many hours of practice did that take?
At the conclusion of the song, each of the women handed her drawing to an audience member. I wasn't chosen likely because I was recording the event on my phone leaving me with no hands. So very, very sad. Nevertheless, it's an unique feat I doubt any other band could boast.
The second surprise was even sweeter. Again, during a song, they stepped off stage and started approaching each person to offer a hug. Something else I have never seen another band do! Each of them worked one half of the room and I wish I could tell them apart but I will guess Elsa hugged me.
It wasn't a polite greeting kind of hug. She embraced me with the sincerity of an old friend, as if we've known each other since kindergarten. Apparently, this is a trademark of theirs. Looking back, I am amazed that such a brief gesture could convey so much between two complete strangers. It was certainly a very lovely and touching moment. If only I knew.
The concert was on June 11th and I went to bed filled with warmth. Imagine waking up to news of the Orlando shooting at Pulse which is a mere two days after Christina Grimmie's tragedy. I took some time to dwell on the hug from the night before, trying to relive the peaceful tenderness and more importantly, the unconditional acceptance. People have a tendency to gravitate towards labels and categories which leads to more exclusion than inclusion. And it's mostly driven by fear of the unknown. Casket Girls takes a risk each time they hug a stranger yet they continue to do so. Thank you Phaedra and Elsa.
This has been a great year of live music. After 120 shows and over 430 bands, I reflect upon my top ten even though top 50 would have been much easier.
[words and photo of Casket Girls by The Paper]