david_portland_rev1

David’s incredible generosity to his fans is already becoming legendary, and the tour is only just underway. In city after city, report after report describes David as utterly gracious, thoroughly engaged, and willing to indulge his fans in almost any request. He is often the last of the performers to leave the crowds of autograph and snap seekers–and then often only after insistence by security.

This is hardly due to the fact that David wants to bask in the adoration. Indeed, what we know already about his personality suggests quite the opposite; he is rather uncomfortable with the idea of notoriety, he is shy and admittedly awkward in social situations. Despite years of praise and applause and even screaming girls (some of the early videos reveal just how soon this particular phenomenon started), David’s natural humility still compels him to characterize all the attention as “weird.”

Due to his introverted nature, David’s natural inclination would be to avoid the very scenes that now require his participation. Yet here is a young man who frets at the possibility that each and every fan won’t get their opportunity with him. He has handled some of the most awkward moments anyone could encounter with enormous grace and tact (what would you do if someone you didn’t even know was sobbing uncontrollably at you?). If he is asked about something he is not at liberty to discuss (his first single, for example, which savvy fans were able to identify by scouring the ASCAP registrations) David gets flustered, not, I would suggest, because he doesn’t know how to politely demur or cheerfully chastise, but because it pains him not to be able to give a fan what they want.

As unlikely as this combination of characteristics might be for someone whose livelihood involves a spotlight both onstage and off, this level of generosity, this degree of selflessness, is not an inconsequential aspect of David’s power as a performer. In classes about performance technique, one of the concepts discussed and dissected is the notion of availability. The potential for a performer to truly connect with people’s hearts and minds is realized to a large extent by how open, how accessible–how available–that performer is willing to be to his or her audience. Make no mistake: this is a courageous thing. It takes an unusual amount of self possession to allow an audience access to the truth of one’s emotional life. It is why the greatest singers in the world have always characterized their very public work as a very intimate act.

It will be interesting to see how David’s availability in offstage settings evolves over time, especially as his star rises, his public expands, and the press gets increasingly ravenous. Privacy issues aren’t likely to become an issue anytime soon (I have a hunch that we won’t be seeing any romantic liaisons for quite some time), but David will at some point need to make some determinations about boundaries that I suspect won’t be easy for him.

Until then, we have this tremendous example of mutual devotion, both initiated and perpetuated by one remarkable young man. There is little doubt in my mind that the audience response and the dedication of the fans have been fundamental to the increasingly full-throttle performances. It’s as if the so-called bubble David was in during the show season effectively omitted half the equation. Now, the circle is complete. And what fuels David is not the knowledge that his fans are there for him, but the knowledge that he can be there–and available–for them.

Thanks to Jennifer at Fanblast for the magnificent photo of David in Portland, OR.