Friday, September 20, 2013

Day 131 - Live on King Street

I have never been to a Live on King Street concert. For those that are unfamiliar, this annual concert series in Madison is essentially a monthly block party with performances from some of the best up and coming national acts during each summer. Basically, the city shuts down a block at the base of the capitol, sets up a stage, and lets everyone have a good time a listen to free live music once a month. As someone that has lived in Madison for some time, I don't know why I have never made it to this event before, which led me to conclude making it to a Live on King Street concert was long overdue. As a result, I planned to make it to my first Live on King Street concert sometime during my "I have never..." year, which led me to quickly narrow in on attending the Delta Spirit and PHOX show during the last Live on King Street concert of the year. At minimum, I knew the opportunity would give a new and memorable experience, but I also knew I would likely get a chance to spend some time with the PHOX crew after returning from their recent European tour. Considering both of those things are, well, awesome, it was obvious I couldn't lose at tonight's "I have never..." event.


Upon arriving to King Street, Rachael and I quickly made our way into the block party which contained a massive group of people standing before a stage at the opposite end of the street. It was clear PHOX was getting a warm, welcoming homecoming from the local scene with so many people ready to take in their set. After pausing a few moments to take in the scene, Rachael and I worked through the crowd in search of one of several beer carts scattered throughout the block party. Eventually, our efforts directed us to a cart near the back of the crowd where we found Madison's best bartender, Reanna, working hard to get drinks out to the ring of people surrounding the setup. She was prompt in getting us some drinks and wishing us a good time, which sent Rachael and I into the crowd to take in PHOX's set which had begun some minutes earlier.

Welcome back, PHOX!
On our way toward the stage we ran into some friends, Megan and Amanda, before we worked our way into the crowd to listen the remaining songs in PHOX's set. While I loved PHOX since Rachael and I saw their very first show, I will state plainly this was the best performance from the band I have seen to date. The band was tight, their front-woman, Monica, was on (and incredibly charismatic), and the group seemed synchronized in a way that was different than the last performance I saw from them... but in the best way possible. I don't know what Europe did to this six-pack of awesomeness, but whatever it did, it was good. Their style, energy, and talent made it easy to enjoy their set, and it made me realize how lucky I am to know some amazingly talented people. I've known PHOX is going places for quite some time, but seeing them on that stage tonight made me realize just how they are turning potential into success. Everyone around us was loving every minute of their performance, and for a group that does things their own way, it was great to see so many people embracing PHOX's music. While I normally don't use my blog entry's for promotion of any sort, I will say this; if you don't know PHOX yet, get to know them. You'll be happy you did.

Delta Spirit
Following PHOX's set, Rachael and I took a walk through the crowd to get some air and chat a bit. Our path took us back to Reanna's beer cart, where we grabbed another drink and settled in while we waited for Delta Spirit to take the stage. As the band prepared, we slowly worked our way back into the crowd, where we ran into some members of PHOX mingling among the crowd. With Delta Spirit working into the first songs of their set, I took time to catch up with the members of PHOX, who each told of their amazing trip through Europe and discussed their forthcoming national tour and album. It was great to hear their stories and to get some time to see most of them in person again (where were you, Matteo?). Honestly, that alone was enough to make my night.

It that a scruffy toddler drinking a beer?
No, it's Caleb and a 32 oz. can of PBR.
After chatting with PHOX for some time, Rachael and I worked our way back into the crowd where we ran into our friend James and caught back up with Megan and Amanda. We chatted with the group as Delta Spirit worked through the remainder of their set, which was a solid performance worthy of the last Live on King Street of the year. Eventually, the band wrapped up their performance as the night drew close to the 10:00 pm noise ordinance, which left Rachael and I debating what to do for the rest of the night. After some encouragement from Megan, Rachael and I decided to join her for the Railroad Earth performance inside the Majestic Theatre, which sat at the center of the King Street block party. With the Live on King Street crowd dispersing, Megan, Rachael, and I found our way into the theatre and grabbed some drinks before the second concert of the night began. While I didn't expect much from a typical trip to the bar, my first (and only) drink at the Majestic ended up providing me a second, smaller "I have never..." event for the day, drinking a 32 ounce can of PBR.

Railroad Earth

As the night progressed, our group took the dance floor with the terrific Bluegrass sounds of Railroad Earth guiding our feet. While I was skeptical about how much I would enjoy the band's performance before we entered the theatre tonight, Railroad Earth's infectious melodies and driving beats made it easy to have a great time. Although the style of music was very different than the first concert of the night, Railroad Earth provided the perfect way to cap off an eventful evening. After their first set Megan, Rachael, and I decided to call it a night, which sent our separate ways as we walked back to our homes. As Rachael and I continued home I looked back on the night and thought about how it all came together. In total, my first experience at Live on King Street was a great night with some amazing people that was made possible by simply going to the block party. While we didn't plan anything other than attending the PHOX show, Rachael and I ended up spending time with great people on a beautiful late summer evening. In my book, it doesn't get much better than that, which makes me glad I experienced Live on King Street for the very first time. I'll just have to make sure I set aside time to do it again in the future. After all, summer is only nine months away.

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