Valentine’s day is seen by many as a “hallmark holiday”, myself included at certain points. My husband and I both believe that love can’t be summed up in a greeting card, no matter how well written. However, being in a relationship for 12 years, and married for nearly 9, we do see the importance of carving out some time to appreciate the person that you love, whether this is valentines day, your anniversary, or a spontaneous Sunday morning, it takes an effort of making the time to honor and celebrate all that you’ve been through together.
With that said, Valentine’s this year presented a great opportunity for this because one of our favorite bands was playing a concert in nearby Rochester, according to my Spotify, and on a whim we bought the tickets. The first song we ever heard by The Ballroom Thieves was “Bees”. Justin shared it with me after hearing it on his discover weekly playlist. The lyrics sounded more like poetry to us, and we related to the feelings of love and fear and commitment. This led us to immediately researching who this band was, and listening to every other song we could get our metaphorical hands on. Enter “Sea Legs” my personal favorite, and one of the most unique sounding songs I’ve heard in a very long time. Then to “Anybody Else” which is probably one of their most popular, a raspy, wrenching love song that you cannot help but sway and sing to, trying to mimic the devotional howling is hard to resist, yet it’s authentic and original just like all of the music they create.
The show was at 7pm that Wednesday, I picked up Justin from his long day of exams at 5:15 and we set off from Syracuse to Rochester, no time to stop along the way but just enough to get us to the venue and hope to get a seat before the band’s set. As soon as we arrived at the venue, I immediately took note that this would be a different experience than any other show we had been to. It was at an open space, the Arbor Loft, on the second level of the building. Despite what I had been mentally preparing myself for, we had an easy time parking, we practically waltzed in to show our tickets at the door. I laugh at myself now for rushing to the bathroom in a hurry so that way I could miss the lines later. There were no lines, because as they stated in the event description this was an intimate gathering for people to come together and listen to great music, and unbelievably so they not only stuck to their word but they changed my perception of what a concert could be.
A group called Honest Folk were the presenters of this event, a small fellowship of people from Rochester who really are honest, and passionate about planning events in the most thoughtful way I’ve ever seen. As someone who has a chronic illness, big events are often a really overwhelming experience, so much so that I can’t help but brace myself as much as possible for the possibility that I may experience a crash in my energy even days afterwards. To me, music is always worth this exchange, it recharges my soul, and some physical and mental energy is worth that price. My happiness is measured in moments that move me emotionally and leave me feeling inspired and a little more understood, and the music of The Ballroom Thieves did this for me, so I could only imagine what they could do live, and I was not disappointed.
The venue was open and fluid, there was plenty of seating so that from the front to the back any seat was pretty up close and personal with the stage. We had time to get food before it kicked off, of which I go on record to say that it was hands down some of the best vegetarian food we have ever had, let alone “concert food”. A massive shout out to Orange Glory for your amazing morsels. An added bonus was all of the utensils we used were either compostable or reusable, with the goal of the event being that 99% of the evenings waste would not go to a landfill. As more people settled into their seats, the founder of Honest Folk told us a little more information as to who they were and what they do, and that some of the night’s proceeds would be going to support the youth shelters for homeless teens in the Rochester area. These were all factors I didn’t realize when purchasing the tickets, yet made me feel even better about the purchase I had made.
Just as we’re finishing up our plates out comes the band, strolling casually onto the stage and off we went right in to the first half of their set. Unsurprisingly, they sound even more astounding live. Martin, Devin and Calin all have such a vehemence for performing their music. Every aspect of the band’s essence from the iambic lyrics, to the way they harmonize their voices, to the remarkable instrumentals, have all been placed with such care in each and every song.
That’s what I have come to appreciate about people and about the things I invest my time, my money and my energy into, things that have been created and done with care.
That is what made this night so special to me, every little detail was done with care and thoughtfulness, which made the big attraction, the band that got us to sit in those seats, shine even brighter. It was not just a show, it was an experience that my husband and I got to share together and for a few hours, nothing else mattered in the world but the two of us singing along to some great music.
The band kept joking that their music was too sad for valentines day, in which they proceeded into a cover called “low, low, low” by a band named The Heartless Bastards no less, but as all of us know about love, it is complex and most of the time confusing. It has its waves of highs and lows, and I can think of no playlist better than the set performed by The Ballroom Thieves to encapsulate the crushing, catapulting, crazy, cryptic, charming catastrophe that is love.
Now off you go to listen for yourself. I recommend starting by clicking here.
And if your in the local area, I highly recommend checking out an Honest Folk Presents concert. I have already discovered a slew of new bands thanks to their upcoming events calendar!