Lilting melodies fill the air. In the garden there is a bench of wrought iron. It has been painted white. No allergies exist here. Some sort of lukewarm Eden. The sound system is hidden in the trees, like we are at some Las Vegas pool in the too-early springtime. Foliage grows and is extra green. Greener than sour apple Jolly Ranchers in a candy dish outside the receptionist’s window at the local optometrist’s. I still see it clearly. A maiden sits in a white dress of lace, a large doily. She has blonde ringlets that are perfectly coiled and fall accidentally, only in a way a Hollywood producer could arrange. Aversion to Los Angeles. The air smells Willy Wonka sweet. Something saccharine. Something smoky. Something that cannot be placed, or cross-referenced in the brain of one amply experienced. Words on the tip of tongue, fences and gates push forward then inwards. A memory, half-dipped in morning coffee, getting crumbly and mushy, falls away from the cookie body, to be retrieved at the bottom of the mug, once the coffee has been drunk. Celebratory holiday affair.
It’s wild how an album can grow on you. When you first stream it on your laptop, you don’t really get it; It passes through you. Damn those shitty speakers. But then maybe you give it another try, with headphones, in another headspace, in different mood entirely, at the end of the day when your thoughts seem the loudest. and holy shit. That album can change you; It slowly starts to steep into the fibers of your being and you find riffs and choice selections of words caught up in your daily thoughts. It starts to embed itself into the soundtrack of your life, you start relating to it in a ridiculous number of ways whether it’s musically, literally, and/or thematically.
This could be any album, for you or for me. I’ve had these feelings towards albums before but I can’t remember the last time I legitimately felt this way. Currently, I’m talking about Into It. Over It.‘s ‘Intersections’. The album is stellar. It takes a couple a listens but you finally reach nothing short of an epiphany that Evan Weiss’ is nothing less than a humble genius. He is a brilliant songwriter, musician, performer, and storyteller – So much so that if you don’t look at him with some sort of admiration, respect, and/or envy I’m not sure you’re fully human.
January 2011, I went to the Music Hall of Williamsburg in Brooklyn with my dad to see another yearly installment of the ‘Where’s the Band?’ tour featuring Chris Conley, Anthony Raneri, Matt Pryor, Ace Enders, and Evan Weiss. I knew of the former four but not the latter. He was a mystery. Watching him open was one of the most remarkable things I’ve ever witnessed in my life. His singing and lyrics so sincere, that FINGERPICKING, and what tuning was he playing in? Surely that wasn’t Standard E…And it wasn’t. I’d never seen anything like it. Evan is very well known for using many alternate tunings. And that factor is one of the reasons why I think he stands out so much – He goes beyond the norm. And I like that. He caught my ear and made me a fan for life.
I tell people this doesn’t happen to me often; I don’t usually get blown away by opening acts, in fact I usually come in with very low expectations for the openers as shitty as it sounds. But I think we’ve all been conditioned to feel that way because how many shows have we been to where we’re impatiently drinking our drinks, having run out of things to talk about in between because the opener is taking FOREVER and preventing us from seeing who we really came to see! But when that sort of thing happens – when I am wowed, goosebumped, easily attentive, and feel that static electricity inside my body sparking with excitement I don’t take it lightly. It’s only happened to me three times before: Once with Evan, once with Kevin Devine, and the other time with Balance and Composure.
That first night in Brooklyn after his set, I awkwardly went up to him at the merch table and bought a CD of his then latest record, Proper. I then proceeded to half-drunkenly ask him questions about his guitar and the like. He was the sweetest and answered all my questions with a smile. I saw him again at a Chuck E. Cheese-esque venue in Montclair three months later where he played to no more than 25 of us as we gathered around and listened to him play, some of us singing along. Six months later, I saw him headline and play full band for the first time at Santos Party House in Manhattan a week before Hurricane Sandy with Hostage Calm, Cheap Girls, and The Front Bottoms.
This past Thursday, I revisited the place where I first discovered him – the Music Hall of Williamsburg – to see him play full band again, this time better than ever. I went to the show by myself, which I’ve never done before…EVER. It was slightly nerve-wracking to travel all the way to Brooklyn via train and subway but I did it. I’m actually pretty proud that I did it. When I finally got on the 12:40 AM train to go home, I put in my headphones and queued up ‘Intersections’ for the ride back. It was a completely different experience than when I had streamed it on my laptop a few days before. Something was different. Something had changed. And I realized, it was me that was different, me who had changed. Maybe it was my tired brain finally relaxing after an exhaustive afternoon of transportation and an evening of the finest rock n’ roll. Maybe it was the vodka cranberry I had, combined with the comfort of sitting down for one of the first times that night. Maybe it was the curtained sadness in my heart as I looked up admiringly at the bands I saw that night and reflecting on what I was doing with my life. ‘Intersections’ quenched my thirst, it opened my eyes, it kept me awake, and my mind racing. When I saw Evan again on Saturday, I bought the ‘Intersections’ vinyl.
Like anything I say, I can only tell you what I know to be true based off my experience. If this sort of thing has never happened to you, you may not understand. But to those who this has happened to, you know what I mean. It’s some sort of calling. Some sort of affirmation of the life and energy that exists within you. When a song resonates, you feel it in your soul; that central core in the center of your torso. And you feel the electric sparks spread throughout your body.
Evan is a huge vinyl junkie. And because of that, I think he understands what makes a good record. He doesn’t live in or even associate with the Top40 concept of “singles” or sticking with the mainstream “sound”. All of that’s irrelevant and I think he knows it. And I’m glad he’s a musician who stays true to himself and his talents. His music really reflects his authenticity and as a listener, that’s all I can ever hope to ask for. Keep it up, Evan. ‘Intersections’ has unexpectedly found a way into my heart. All your hard work was/is worth it and I will probably support you and your musical endeavors indefinitely.
‘Til next tour –