One of the things I love most about my wife is the fact that she and I don't really need an "occasion" to have a celebration. Obviously we do all the big ones: anniversaries, birthdays, holidays...The same ones that everyone celebrates. But, we also celebrate little things on an almost daily basis. Hitting the trash can on the first try with a damp paper towel. Killing a fly that had been annoyingly meandering around the house for days, disappearing only when we went looking for it. Winston standing on the patio for 20 minutes afraid to step in the wet grass, then finally pooping after wandering around the yard in the rain for 20 more. All of these are celebration-worthy in our household.
But, over the weekend, we got to celebrate a big occasion, and we got to do it in style. Adrienne turned 25 on Saturday, and we capped her week-long celebration (Birthday Week as she puts it) at the beautiful Louisville Palace Theater with our 10th Avett Brothers show. Under normal circumstances, an Avett Brothers show by itself would be considered a major occasion, but coupling that with Adrienne's birthday only made it better. As I said, we had seen them live nine times before (for Adrienne it was number 11), but we both agreed this one topped them all.
Perhaps it was the intimacy and "neatness" of the venue. The exterior of the building is ordained with intricate stonework, and an elaborate, glowing marquee extends out over the sidewalk...The kind of place you see left to rot in any one of countless downtowns. Once inside the theater, the walls are lined with enormous stone statues backed by dark blue lighting that makes it feel like you're looking at a night-time skyline of some ancient city. The capacity is just south of 3,000, and there couldn't possibly be a bad seat in the place.
Maybe it was our seats. We've been close to the stage plenty of times, but we have never been quite this close. With a good tailwind, I'm certain I could have spit on Scott and Seth if I had wanted to. We were barely 20 feet from the stage. Close enough for me to catch two set lists at the end of the show (more on that later).
The venue aside, maybe what made the show great was the music itself. While a lot of our favorites were left out, we got to hear a couple of new songs that were both fantastic, and they even dressed up a few of their older tunes to make them seem brand new. They also interacted with the crowd far more than they usually do, talking in between songs and taking off running down the aisles to high-five a few lucky fans.
At the end of the show, they throw out souvenirs to the crowd, just like any other band: set lists, guitar picks, a drum stick or two...One bold fan even passed up a tambourine from 4 rows back and Scott and Seth autographed it on stage before passing it back. I had been lucky enough to catch a set list at a show last November in Lexington, and was lucky enough to catch TWO this go-round. When I came down with the first one, I barely even realized it was being thrown. I just happened to see something flying through the air and reached up to grab it. Then another came flying right at me a few moments later. It is obviously exciting to be able to have those, but the look of joy and excitement on Adrienne's face was better than anything. When I looked at her and saw her reaction, I knew right then it was one of those moments I'll always remember. I'd much rather have that than some piece of paper with a list of songs on it...But, it's still pretty cool to have both.
And that's why I think the best part of the whole night was being able to celebrate Adrienne.
It wasn't about the concert. It wasn't about the set list. It wasn't about just having a fun night out with my wife. It's about seeing her so happy. I can always look at that set list hanging on the wall in our house, just like I can with the one from Lexington. But, from now on, I won't just see a piece of paper in a frame. I'll see that look, that joy, on Adrienne's face. You can't frame that.
Happy Birthday, Adrienne! I love you more than anything, ever, always!