The Road to Rockford
My friends and I had thrown caution to the wind, had overcome our lack of good credit histories, and were now speeding down the I-94 expressway from Detroit to Rockford, Illinois in our red economy rental car.
I did not care what obstacles lay in our path—of which there were not a few. I was determined to take this trip after studying ten weeks straight and taking the California bar exam. My mind had lived in the clouds, grasping for highfalutin concepts, parsing situations, solving problems that resembled math equations more than reality. I had been brought to law because of my work for civil rights, but it was hard to keep sight of that goal while trying to differentiate between contingent remainders and vested remainders subject to open. Even to this day, I am still having dreams that I still need to study for it.
After weeks of tension and living in an intellectual haze, I yearned for this opportunity to see and hear David, to get reoriented and rejuvenated, to enjoy something and have a little time for myself before moving on to the next challenge.
Our motley crew consisted of myself, Maricruz (who goes by Mari), and her boyfriend Curtis. They were twenty-two and twenty-one years old respectively, and two long-time friends of mine in the political group I work with, BAMN. Last summer, I succeeded at infecting Mari with full-fledged ODD, and she in turn made Curtis a fan by showing him the two-DVD “enabler disc set” I had burned for her. Curtis was someone who had done some singing himself. While he admired David’s talent, he never resorted to squeeing like Mari and I did. His appreciation was more cerebral, as was he. Still, in addition to appreciating David’s singing skill, Curtis told us one day that he also loved how David “is just who he is.”
Close Fan Encounter of the Worst Kind
From the outside, the Coronado Theater was somewhat underwhelming. Round stage bulbs ringed the marquee—it had a classic feel, but also made me worry whether this would be a fitting venue for David. Also, when we parked at precisely 7:30pm and rushed inside, we saw no one lined up outside or even waiting in the lobby.
Well, everyone was impeccably punctual and already inside the concert hall, which was packed. And David was right: the inside of the Coronado Theater was breathtakingly gorgeous. It reminded me of San Francisco’s historic Castro Theater in how it resembled a classical movie house, but this was several times more elaborate, with elaborate artwork from floor to its high ceiling. I was also delighted to see that the concert space was significantly smaller than the other venues where I had seen David. It fitted perhaps about 1,500, in contrast to the large A.I. Tour venues and the mega-concert halls in Sacramento and Salt Lake City where I had previously seen him.
On Thursday, Bookaholic commented here on TDC: “Despite a lot of surface differences, it seems true that there is a commonality that is typically found in David’s fans…good, down-to-earth people whose hearts have been indelibly touched by a really rare young man.”
Mari, Curtis and I found our seats and discovered the two lone exceptions.
The evil couple was seated next to Mari. The three of us were unable to get three tickets next to each other, and so Mari and I sat together near the left-hand wall, and Curtis was separated from us by several seats toward our right. We asked the several people between us if they would shift one seat over, so that our friend could come around to join us. Several of them heartily agreed, and even feigned stubbornness out of jest, but the middle-aged couple next to Mari hesitated. The man wrapped a shielding arm around his wife and had a look on his face that said, “I am not listening. And why is this girl asking me to move from my seat?” He said that, if his wife moved over, the man sitting in front of them would block her view. I too noticed this man, who was actually currently blocking the wife’s view, and moving over would have solved their problem! I tried to tell them this, but they had none of it: “No, these are our seats.”
It seemed like David had yet to touch these two hearts of granite. Bah! My friends and I did not let this dramatic setback spoil the pleasure of our evening. Curtis stayed where he was, and Mari and I, though separated from our comrade, took our seats to enjoy the show.
Then the lights dimmed and I was surrounded by screams. I shuddered in fright until I realized that I was at a concert for David Archuleta. We were in darkness, and then came the sound of a heartbeat. Have I not said before that this part is really cool?
The opening bars of “Touch My Hand” began, the screams began anew, and David ran out onto the stage.
My first thought every time I see him live is how he is shorter than everyone else on the stage. It is as if nature purposefully gave him a stature that serves as a constant reminder that, while David is a star and a phenomenon, he is in no way above or different from any one of us. Then, after David sings his first notes, my second thought is always: “What a voice!” At the end of the night, Curtis wondered to us: “How does all that breath come out of that little body?”
I saw that David had still not read my poem, or at least that it had no effect: he continued to wear tight denim jeans and “communicate” with them. He also wore a simple black button-down dress shirt—simple, but enough to do the job.
David was singing “Touch My Hand,” and I was once again Archusmacked by the progression his voice had made since I last saw him in March. It was deep, booming, and rich, so that by the end of the night you kind of felt exhausted—he sang in a powerful, full voice throughout almost his entire 75-minute set. This is not the sweet-toned David singing “1000 Miles” at home on the piano, but a young man whose voice is increasing in power and enriching the beauty that was already there. David had yet more flexibility and command over his instrument, adding nuance, softening to a sweet coo here, belting like a gospel singer there. In “Somebody Out There,” his transition to falsetto and back was smooth and poifect. He directed his voice with masterful control, as a painter with his brush.
During “Touch My Hand,” a row of outstretched arms greeted David. However, one girl, perhaps 11 or 12, stood back from the stage. David touched the hands of the other people near her. He must have noticed her fear immediately, because he made an extra effort and leaned out and stretched out his arm for a couple of seconds before she stepped forward. And at the very end of the night, David didn’t just wave goodbye as he had done before. He returned onstage to run past the first row with his hand out one last time—making contact one more time before parting ways. I am convinced that if he could have given each one of us a big massive hug, he would have.
Many big music stars seem to perform to an anonymous “crowd,” looking above their heads toward the back of the room, or in the general direction of people but not at anyone in particular.
But with David, even when over a thousand people are screaming for him, he seems to see individual people amidst the sea of faces. He is always looking directly at people, making eye contact. Whether he is pointing directly at someone knowing full well that he is endangering some poor girl’s health, or giving a cute little wave and moving on, David is always interacting, even while giving his all in performance.
It does not seem like he chooses to relate to each of us this way. Perhaps this is just how he is. Or perhaps he is just not used to giving anything less.