My experiences of following David’s career encompass three different areas: his music, friendships made within fan community, and David himself. While staying in Milwaukee with other fans for David’s concert at the Rave/Eagles Club this past Monday, I often shared with other fans how I find David the person to be fascinating. I am continually amazed by his work ethic, focus, passion, and yet quiet unassuming nature.
Sometimes I see glimpses of his world. I believe that those glimpses largely create the rollercoaster of emotions I often experience around a concert event. In September, I will attend Regina Spektor’s concert as a casual fan with no knowledge of her schedule, personality, or fanbase relationships. David’s concert is a completely different story.
During the morning of the concert day, I sipped coffee with Joner at an outdoor café across the street from the venue. Shortly after 8 a.m., we watched David’s bus pull into the venue parking lot. From the safe perch of our patio table, we sat transfixed for quite some time as we watched the slow progression of activity in the parking lot.
Watching the bus’ arrival tangentially placed us in David’s world for the next 15 hours. If I had been following any other artist, I would have known little or nothing about their personal preparations for the concert. Following David’s timetable, we knew that he was caring for his tired voice as we prepared to walk to the VIP session. Through Tweets we knew that he was talking with his friend, Ashlee, through a computer and a whiteboard as she sat next to him earlier that day.
Once at the VIP session, I could have cut the palpable anticipation with a knife before David entered the room. Neither Joner nor I touched the pizza, instead downing cups of water to hydrate because we were doing the mosh pit. Our quiet anticipation increased when we learned that David was on vocal rest and would not be doing a sound check.
We learned from David’s friend, Ashlee, that the recording session scheduled the next day had been canceled. As we chatted with other fans, Kristen informed us that David would be attempting a sound check after all before the VIP session. We heard the band struck up “Touch My Hand” and David’s familiar, but very hoarse voice floated through the dark room. Our worry magnified. Joner, our friend Jane, and I looked at each other with tears in our eyes.
I was excited to meet David again, but I felt strangely nervous because I was worried about David’s voice. He held up cards with greetings written on them in lieu of talking. We arranged with Kristen to have three little girls present David with our handmade little surfboards to recognize his three Teen Choice Awards.
It was delightful to talk with Ashlee at the VIP session. Our conversation gave us a glimpse of his everyday off-stage world. It is clear that he is loyal to friends and they communicate often. I was stunned to learn that he has been able to attend church even while on the road. My excuses about not attending services while on work-related travel suddenly seemed lame.
Surely David’s spiritual devotion played a role in Monday’s performance. As Joner already eloquently described in her TDC Short Take, we were amazed when his voice was stronger then ever during the concert. Although his speaking voice was hoarse, his voice soared through the numbers and he put new vocal twists on many of the songs. We tried to describe his hoarse sound check to a few audience members with general admission tickets. They could not believe it.
We recounted the concert with other fans (Jane, Janey, Jesse, and Dominic) afterward in the outdoor café across the street. We spoke of our amazement about how the day’s events unfolded. We described how knowing some of the background events (such as David’s vocal tiredness and busy schedule) definitely gives us a fuller perspective of the concert experience. Sometimes, I admit, it is almost too much information, but nonetheless I seek it.
Around 11 p.m., David’s bus slowly reversed and pulled out of the parking lot before lumbering toward the direction of the Interstate. I was quite tired from simultaneously worrying and celebrating that day. Still, I stood and watched the bus lights until they faded in the distance, feeling an unexpected and sharp sadness as I said goodbye to the glimpses of David’s world that day.
Here is my video of David’s “You Can” from Milwaukee: