I read a book once called How to Ditch Your Fairy about a world where everyone has a fairy that makes them exceptionally lucky at one thing. For example, if you have a parking fairy, you always get an amazing parking spot. One of my friends seems to have this fairy. It took me almost a decade to figure out which fairy I might have, but after this year, I know it is a concert fairy. Travel plans just so happen to magically align with the tours of various British musicians or occasionally acquiring tickets from generous friends who can no longer attend...yes, sounds like a concert fairy!
The first of the magical travel coincidences happened when I discovered that Bastille would be in Vancouver the same time as me. I tried to convince practically my entire hostel to attend as well. I had seen Bastille once before in Denver (December 2015), but they had released a new album since then. It was the perfect way to start what unintentionally became the "year of concerts." The next two months, I listened to practically nothing but Bastille and anyone in my car had to put up with that. As one friend said, "I don't think I've heard their new album yet...oh wait, actually I definitely have since you've been driving all weekend." My friends were all very happy when I went to a different concert, in hopes that I might change up my music selections.
I was already in Denver for the weekend and obviously accepted when a friend invited me to go watch British musicians. One of my flat mates from London has seen the 1975 many, many times and though I'm not trying to match her record, I had always heard great things about their live performances. Always looking for unsuspecting British musicians to marry, gain UK citizenship, and then travel the world, I quite liked the openers, a new band called Colouring and decided one of them might have potential. I said, "Watch he's probably 18." Sure enough, a simple Google search showed the year of birth as 1998...oh, so he is 18, lol, okay never mind, little hatchlings.
My concert fairy slacked off for a long time on seeing Coldplay, but finally delivered in a big way. After several failed attempts to attend a Coldplay concert, they happened to be in Dublin while I was in Ireland. Tickets for this July show supposedly sold out within minutes the prior October. Somehow though, I was able to find a normal (not re-sold) ticket when I searched "restricted view." A few other people I know tried to buy a ticket right after I did, but they were all sold out, so thank you, concert fairy, for whatever you did there. I had the worst seat in the house, but it didn't matter at all, it was definitely worth it! Their set included over 20 of their songs. As anyone who listens to Coldplay agrees, their last few albums are not nearly as good as their earlier ones and after a string of older songs, they started to sing "Everglow" and at least half of the lower levels filed out of the arena for a break...I found that amusing. I wrote in my Ireland blog post about how cool the bracelets that lit up were, and the special effects with fireworks and everything were top-notch. When I saw a high school friend recently for the first time all year, one of the first things she asked was whether finally seeing Coldplay in concert was everything I thought it would be and it definitely was!
I was much overdue for a trip to Red Rocks: the best concert venue on the planet. The Head and the Heart came on stage to John Denver's, "Rocky Mountain High" which was the perfect way to start a set at Red Rocks. I noticed one lady had the job of asking people to please move out of the stairs. That is definitely a job I could do. At this point, I decided to contemplate alternative options to just travel and watch concerts all the time, in the event that marrying a British musician does not work out. If you live in Colorado and have never been to a concert at Red Rocks, put that one your to-do list. If you don't live in Colorado but find yourself here for a visit, definitely check to see if there is a concert of interest while you are in town. The red rocks work as a natural amplifier so there are only speakers in the front and the sound carries naturally.
It's been a very exciting year musically, as my favourite red-headed British musician has been number one in the world on Spotify since the release of his new album. I attended with a friend of a friend who I had never met before. I told her, "I'm wearing a ridiculous elephant romper with feathers in the front and gladiator-like shoes so that you can recognize me." She replied, "Oh, I'm just wearing a white t-shirt and jeans lol." But she found me and we had a grand time.
No one understands why I like Jamestown Revival so much. My friends who like folk say their music is too country. My friends who like country, say their music is too folk. My friends who like neither just say, "this doesn't sound like your type of music at all" and my mom even said it sounded like "hillbilly music." Well, that's fine, I thought and went to their concert by myself. I should mention that they were actually the first of two openers and I've never gone to a concert for the first of two openers before. As you can see from this picture, no one else was paying attention and just trickling in to the stadium or talking quietly amongst themselves. Okay...I understand, I'm the only Jamestown Revival fan in the whole world! I met some members from a local band who complimented me of my sophisticated musical taste by going to a concert for the first of two openers. The other performers, The Record Company and Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue were great as well, I made some new friends, and it was an overall successful night.
The Lumineers played three nights in a row at their hometown show. Having a hometown show always brings a new energy and makes the concerts even more exciting. Their shows sold out right away, but they added some extra seats the week of the event, which I was able to get, thanks concert fairy. I've been listening to The Lumineers practically since they released their first single and seeing them live certainly didn't disappoint!
Somehow Bastille's tour path and my travel plans managed to mesh again, this time when I was visiting family near Pittsburgh. I also appreciated that in the background of one of their songs, they had a skyscraper labeled "Crystal Tower." This show was on the one-year anniversary of the release of their newest album. It was actually a festival show with four other bands, and the first opener, Frenship, was my second-favourite of the night. Overall, I think Vancouver was a slightly better show, since the stage here was smaller and a festival show means a slightly shorter set, but I was much closer to the stage this time and they played the just-released a few days prior cover of Green Day's "Basket Case." So both shows were worth going to. Sorry friends, still playing Bastille music at least 75% of the time in my car. If you can quote every single word of their song "Glory," you have me to thank.
If you happen to go to Stage AE in Pittsburgh, be prepared to only bring a teeny tiny bag unless your bag is full of diabetes supplies, as mine was. When they almost didn't let me in with the bag, I explained that it was full of medical supplies and they let me in, much to the annoyance of another lady who was turned away. Sorry, lady, it's better to not be allowed to have your bag at a concert than having type 1 diabetes.
I continued with my get-a-job-touring-with-a-band theme when I noticed there was someone whose sole job seemed to be to turn on a flashlight at one point for Dan Smith, Bastille's singer to go down the stairs. I later mentioned to a friend, "I could be the person who turns on the flashlight for him and since he's British, I'll even call it a torch instead." She said, "Okay, Crystal, we've reached a new low, haven't we? Trying to get a career as someone who turns on a flashlight? And you definitely don't have a technology fairy, so the flashlight probably would malfunction every show and he'd fall down the dark stairwell." Okay, point taken.
Yet another unexpected, impulsive concert attended was Iceland's Kaleo. Obviously quite popular in their native country, they now live in Texas and I was surprised that they were sold out two nights in Denver, as they only have one album out. I had the opportunity to try out my terrible Icelandic again and I think this has to be in the top 5 best concerts. They have a video on Youtube of them playing their most well-known song "Way Down We Go" in a volcano, because...Iceland.
When I found out Vance Joy was coming to Denver, my internal dialogue went something like this, "You really don't need to go to any more concerts. Yeah but, he's from Australia so who knows when he'll get back to Denver again. You have another concert planned that week. Yeah, but he's probably one of your top ten favourite musicians and it is in a venue that you've never been to before. Okay, fine." My flat mate and I have very different musical tastes and I am always trying to convert her to my (obviously way better) music. After trying to get her to attend a concert with me all summer, I finally persuaded her to come watch Vance Joy with me (I think she knew three of his songs) and she had so much fun that afterwards she suggested we do this more often. I said, "I told you you'd enjoy my music!" After watching this concert, I kept telling people that I was going to move to Australia...and then we found a black widow spider at work and I said, "Just kidding, they have even worse spiders there."
You know you've gone to way too many concerts when this is the second time you've seen both openers in the last two months...both times accidentally! K Flay was also one of the openers for the Bastille concert in Pittsburgh and Grouplove opened for the Head and the Heart at Red Rocks. This was actually the concert with the most advance planning, as my friend and I got our tickets way back in the spring time! It was a really well-done show, Imagine Dragons have had so many songs that have gone beyond the alternative circle and into mainstream music as well and for good reason. Plus, since we got the tickets during a pre-sale, we actually had really good seats, which was a welcome change!
If you've been following my blog for any stretch of time, you'll know that I like to have a soundtrack for my travels. It should come as no surprise then that I turn to music when it comes to navigating a new diagnosis. As far as I know, none of these songs or musicians I use for my soundtrack have any connection to type 1 diabetes, but I found meaning in it nonetheless.
During my trip to Vancouver the end of April (stay tuned to hear about this trip!), I magically chose to visit at the same time as Bastille. Interestingly, my mom and sister recently managed to visit the Grand Canyon the same day as Bastille... A sign that I am going to marry a British musician? I think yes and I even sent my mother videos of the concert asking what she thought of her future son-in-law. She seemed to approve. Anyway...Bastille's "new" album was released just two weeks before my diagnosis. Even before I knew I had diabetes, I was already applying it to my own life.
Song: "Lethargy." Defining lyric: "Lethargy got ahold of me and I don't know how to shake it." Ignoring the fact that that is grammatically inaccurate because Bastille can do no wrong...that pretty much sums up the weeks leading up to my diagnosis.
Song: "An Act of Kindness." Defining lyric: "You caught me by surprise in this town of glass and ice...and now it follows me everyday." #relevant
Song: "Shame." Defining lyric: "I never knew I could be slowed down. Until I met you." Almost sounds like he's singing right to diabetes, eh? (Sorry, I've been to Canada a lot recently.)
Song: "The Anchor." Defining lyric: "Bring me some hope by wandering in to my mind, something to hold on to, morning, noon, day, or night. You are the light that is blinding me, you're the anchor that I've tied to my brain because when it feels like I'm lost at sea, you're the song I sing again and again." This is how I felt about my other type 1 friends at diagnosis.
Aside from that album, I gathered plenty of other applicable songs and put them in a playlist on Spotify titled "Ma Maladie." I hate it when people refer to my diabetes as "your health condition," "your disability," or "this disease that you have." I learned the French word for this from the French diabetes book that mysteriously arrived in the post.
Song: "Your Body is a Weapon" by The Wombats. Defining lyric: "My body is a temple of doom." Lol - Je comprends la lutte.
Song: "Future Looks Good" by OneRepublic. This also came out right around my diagnosis and I listened to it with irony, considering that my future with diabetes did not look good. However, I found the irony entertaining and OneRepublic songs always seem to be released at pivotal points in my life so it works haha.
Song: "Tickle Me Pink" by Johnny Flynn. Defining lyric: "The one I've got is shoddy, I need a brand new body and then I could have a brand new start." He's talking a heart, but I think of it as a pancreas/immune system.
Song: "I Wanna Get Better" by Bleachers. Pretty self-explanatory...
Song: "Black Water" by Of Monsters and Men. Defining lyric: "Swallowed by a vicious, vengeful sea, darker days are raining over me, in the deepest depths, I lost myself, see myself through someone else." Perfectly captures the harsh beauty of Iceland's landscape, the site of my diagnosis.
Song: "Fixin'" by Walk the Moon. Defining lyric: "It starts with a glimpse, a shimmer, a shadow of something I had once but since lost and now I've got a feeling that I'm not complete anymore." This, I relate back to life before and after diagnosis.
Song: "Silver and Gold" by Noah and the Whale. Defining lyric: "You're just hanging on to a shimmer of hope of the life you had before, but it's too late." This follows the same pattern.
Song: "Prospekt's March" by Coldplay. Defining lyric: "So here I lie, on my own in a separate sky. I don't want to die on my own here tonight." Kind of morbid, but I think of this every low blood sugar.
Song: "Low" by Coldplay. Defining lyric: "Because I feel low." Lol, a less serious take also for every low blood sugar.
Song: "Hopeless Wanderer" by Mumford and Sons. Defining lyrics: "How I long to grow old." This is something I never would have thought of in this way before. Growing old is seen as bad, after all everyone wants to be young forever, right? But when the future is uncertain and life expectancy is much shorter, I find myself talking to people in their 60s and 70s and wondering if I'll live long enough to have experiences like they have.
Hi, I’m Crystal! I love to travel and am currently a graduate student in Scotland. You’ll get all the best tips and insights from my experiences as a former ice-skating coach in Iceland and former study abroad student. Of the 27 countries I have visited, a type 1 diabetes diagnosis has been the strangest land yet. Type 1 has not slowed down my travels and you'll learn how to take type 1 with you on the road! You can connect with me further on Instagram @CrystalChilcott, or send me ideas of where I should travel next via email: email@example.comHappy Travels, Crystal
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