We could see lead guitarist Tyler Ramsey’s oddly long fingernails strumming his strings.
We could see lead vocalist Ben Bridwell’s veins expand over his nekkid lady tattoo as he sang “No One’s Gonna Love You.”
We could see drummer Creighton Barrett’s black socks and white sneakers tapping a symbol.
We could see bassist Bill Reynold’s sweat forming on the bridge of his nose where his glasses sit.
We could see keyboardist Ryan Monroe nod and wink and mouth counts to the others, pacing out the songs.
It was the closest I’ve ever been during a live performance before, let alone one by Band of Horses, a band I’m sort of obsessed with. It was if we had been invited to a jam session in their living room—and I’ve been invited to some jam sessions before. (Jay Z, John Legend and Ben Harper to name a few.)
But last night’s show was different. Maybe because I paid for these tickets and got that front row action all on my own, without the help of a VIP pass or a publicist ushering me in. I was a Fan last night, first and foremost.
See, there were only about 200 tickets available, as the venue—The Heath at Sleep No More‘s McKittrick Hotel—is super small. Normally, I just can’t be fussed with waiting in lines, or, er, holding it in for that long for fear of losing my spot or having to navigate back to it amid a crowd of smushed and drunken fans. Plus, there’s usually an opening act, which may or may not be worth either of those patience-testing endeavors. So I usually arrive about 15 minutes prior to set time and attempt to find a viewing spot where I can at least see more than a douche holding a cell phone up the whole show. (Not an easy feat these days, which I’ve written about before.)
But it just so happened that I had an event no more 20 feet from the McKittrick, which let out at 8:30. Doors were at 9, but I figured I’d get a drink at the Manderly Bar inside the hotel beforehand. Unfortunately, I was mistaken. “But I could wait in line if I want to,” so said the publicist that in earlier times as an editor at The Post may have let me in.
At that point, there wasn’t much of one; just three dudes in between empty metal baracades, shivering with their hoods up. I was tempted to retreat back to where my event had been rather than risk frostbite, but I’m so glad I didn’t. I ended up chatting music with the guys in line and by the time my sister arrived at 9p.m., we were seconds away from being shuffled into an elevator. (And I was seconds away from not being able to feel my toes.)
I suggested that we make the wait (and the $99 ticket price) worth our while by trying to stand right in front since we’d be some of the first to go in. Plus, there was no opening act, which meant only about a half-hour of waiting—and now we could do so with a beer.
So we checked our coats, and then divided to conquer: Rach went and grabbed a spot by the stage while I got us some brewskies. By that point, the photographers were already hogging all the front row space with a promise of “leaving after the first three songs.” We were dubious, being vertically-challenged as we are. But we’re also both in media and knew they’d likely keep their promise, which they did, thankfully, hence the aforementioned views.
I couldn’t quite make out whether Bridwell was drinking whisky or coffee from his paper cup (am thinking whisky), but other than that, we were so close I could read the setlist.
As tempted as I was throughout, though, I tried my best to avoid looking to enjoy the element of surprise. We did grab copies of them off the stage after the show though, and had a giggle when we saw someone on Team BOH is still living in 2013. (Look carefully at the top.)
Despite the acoustics being less than stellar (at some points, the audience was louder than the band and we were in the first row!), the show was pretty epic. I even ran into my first boss from Spin magazine, where I interned way back in 1998 during the summer of my sophomore year. Overall, it was a great NYC night on the town—my sister’s first since moving home from California.
We ended it by sharing a piece of three-layer vanilla cake made by a subway driver-chef who we met at the nail salon earlier that afternoon. He was getting his toe nails did. Ah, NYC. You never cease to amaze.