Monday, May 23, 2011

nola is the real magic city

My trip to New Orleans last month was definitely one of the top three greatest experiences of my life. I can already feel that nothing I write will do it justice. Here goes.

Purpose of my trip: to see Cut Copy (and Holy Ghost!, who were touring with them). Their tour stopped in Miami in March but only to play at overpriced Ultra Music Festival. Guillermo won tickets from Holy Ghost! to go to the festival on Friday—which was a lot of fun and further cemented my growing love for Holy Ghost!—but Cut Copy were playing on Saturday. I felt empty that night, knowing that they were playing in my hometown and I was missing their show. I booked the flight a couple of days later. Their NOLA show was only $20.

I have never been to a more musical city, ever. I knew it was the birthplace of jazz but had no idea I would be hearing music everywhere. Street buskers adorn the city with the sounds of their guitars and woodwinds. From the strolls around the French Quarter, to the packed yet quiet rides on the streetcar, to the late-night bike rides through dark roads for a couple of beers, I quickly realized that New Orleans was and is the most laid-back city I've ever visited.

In retrospect, the whole weekend seemed like a movie. I had no idea where I was going to stay for those four days until the day before my flight, when Chanel told me I could stay with her friend Henry, who was a great host and remarkably nice considering we were strangers until I got to town. The day before I got there, he offhandedly mentioned that A-Trak and Kid Sister were playing the day of my arrival. I bought two tickets, one for myself and one in exchange for crashing on Henry's couch for the weekend. It was a blast. But even though the concert was on my first day in NOLA, it wasn't the first show I saw that day.

When the airport shuttle dropped me off at Tulane that Thursday afternoon, I could hear music in the distance, like I was standing near a stadium. I called Henry, who told me he was going to class but that I should follow the sound of the music because "this band YACHT is playing a free show on campus." I flipped. And ran. And dropped my duffel bag on the grass and laid down and had an amazing afternoon, watching crazy Tulane kids dance their asses off to YACHT and trying to get a grip on everything that was happening. I couldn't stop smiling the entire time I watched them perform.

Friday was spent relaxing, eating, sleeping, biking, and drinking. We went to a bar in the evening that reminded me of my favorite bar in Miami and saw P.Y.M.P., a local hip hop/funk/electronica duo, perform. For free. At that point I had been in NOLA for 24 hours and had been to three different shows and seen five acts in total. I was overwhelmed, but in the greatest way possible.

Saturday was the day of the Cut Copy show. Henry obliged my request to "do touristy shit" during the day, so we took the streetcar to the French Quarter, had beignets and café au lait, and later sat in a park drinking beer (NOLA pretty much has no open container laws) and met some crazy punk kids who had just moved to town from Mississippi. I think we spent the rest of the day drinking until dinner and the concert.

The line was insane. We waited almost an hour to get inside, but once they opened the doors it was easy to get close to the stage. Holy Ghost!'s show was a lot better this time around, most likely because it was more intimate (their stage at Ultra was huge and the crowd was meager). I didn't know until that weekend that it was the last stop of their tour. I also don't know how I had enough energy to dance to all of their songs and then survive Cut Copy's performance. When they played "Jam for Jerry," Alex Frankel (lead singer) jumped down from the stage to sing with the crowd, but only one person knew the words. I freaked out. We had a moment. No zoom whatsoever for this picture, which I was somehow able to take during my fangirl-esque seizure:

The moment finally came. Cut Copy came on stage, blowing my mind and blowing the roof off of Republic. I wish I was a better writer and could properly express how amazing their set was. They played some old stuff, some new stuff, some dance-y stuff, some slower stuff...all of it was beautiful, eargasmic and electrifying.

After the show, I went with Henry's friends to Maison. At that point, I was ready to collapse but I was on such a high from the show that I could have done anything. We went, danced some more and had a great night. Before the night was over (some time around 3am), the most ridiculous thing happened that I have a hard time believing to this day.

Cut Copy and Holy Ghost! had come to Maison. There was Dan Whitford, having a beer and watching the small crowd dance around. I've never been one to idolize artists or celebrities, but after the amount of deliberating I did about dropping the cash for the trip and after having one of the greatest weekends of my life, that was the icing on the cake. Needless to say, I approached him to tell him how amazing their performance was and that I had flown from Miami to see them. I got an enthusiastic "Thanks man! I appreciate the support." and thought I had died and gone to heaven. What I heard in my head was, "Of course this trip was worth it you dumbass!"

The show was exactly one month ago. I swear it was one of the greatest live music moments of my life.