i didn't get a chance yet to share my joy at being able to see Explosions in the Sky on friday night at StageAE in pittsburgh. there were many reasons why this was a great experience:
1. it was in pittsburgh. i love pittsburgh. whether i enter from the liberty or fort pitt tubes, or coming down 279 from the north, or down the parkway from the west, i always feel like i'm coming home. not that i ever lived there. but it just always feels that way to me. i love that city.
2. the concert was at a new venue which is located directly adjacent to heinz field. which meant that i got to see that giant yellow beauty. it was glorious, as always, and i waved and shouted a "go steelers!" out the car window to the Chief who is sitting there frozen in time with his cigar. also, when we left the concert, the pirates were still playing at PNC park (they won in the 14th inning!) and the stadium really is beautiful. it looked absolutely majestic all lit up at night, like a jewel shining on the city. stunning.
3. i got to meet my brother-in-law and a couple of his friends for dinner, and it was great to catch up with him and also meet some new guys. we ate at the jerome bettis grill 36, which is, of course, the restaurant owned (partly owned?) by jerome himself, and is full of memorabilia and steelers stuff. everything tastes better in a place like that! and that leads to the next point:
4. the jerome bettis grille 36 has perhaps the most interesting restroom i've ever been in. once you go in the restroom, you notice that right above the urinals there is a huge window which faces towards the bar area and all the tvs featuring any game you want to be watching. so when you get up to pee, you don't have to miss any of the action! it is, of course, a one-way mirror, so no one can see through from the other side (at least i hope not!), and it was strange to be looking out at people while peeing. pretty cool.
5. i really enjoyed getting to know the guys i met. one of them, whose name started with an M, was a very energetic guy and full of life and joy. he had us all laughing several times, including when he told the story about how he had been told he couldn't bring his 24-ounce bottle of water into PNC park to see the pirates because they only allow bottles 20 ounces and smaller. so he drank 4 ounces. but then they told him that he couldn't bring an open container in. he was irritated, and he threw away his newly purchased bottle of water. while sitting in his seat watching the game, the woman in the seat in front of him pulled out knitting needles and began knitting a scarf or something. KNITTING NEEDLES!!! he was so mad that she was allowed to bring in lethal weapons of possible destruction and he wasn't even allowed to bring in his water, that he refuses to go back. he told a dozen or so other hilarious stories, a hand full of which involved knitting needles in some capacity (or at least we found a way to make them a part of the story) and we had many laughs. it was good to meet you, M. and if you're reading this: you made the blog! cheers.
6. then there was the concert itself. the venue was very nice, if a bit corporate-feeling (it's named after american eagle, who is headquartered in pittsburgh). there was a great crowd there, which was good to see (even if it was made up of people mostly 10-15 years my junior in hipster uniforms). the opening act was a band called "the octopus project" and while they really only had vocals on one song, their music was much more electronic based than Explosions' and i'm not sure that everyone loved it. but i adored it. they had all sorts of cool technology as part of the music, including instruments that i had never seen before, and a stellar artsy video display going on behind them during the music. i could have easily enjoyed a whole show of their stuff (although i checked out their recorded stuff and don't like it nearly as much as the show). then explosions came on and while they are similar in that they don't have any vocals, it couldn't have been more different. there was no video show, or even light effects, really. it was mostly just the bare-bones, beautiful music. one of the guys with us had never even heard explosions in the sky before, and he said that it was like a symphony. truly there music is epic, with quiet understated moments punctuated by sweeping sounds of magnificent glory and rapture. it is a journey, and it was cool to see them playing it and to enjoy the journey along with them. really beautiful (and deafeningly loud) stuff.
7. after driving out of pittsburgh i spent the night at my sister's and brother-in-law's place and then got to see my sister and niece, my other sister and brother-in-law, and my mom and dad the next morning! it was a fun surprise and then i headed back home to serve spaghetti at the United Methodist Men's annual spaghetti dinner. during the drive home from pittsburgh i had plenty of time to sing my heart out, give thanks for opportunities like this, and celebrate a life that is full of clanging guitars, giant yellow stadiums, knitting needles, and one-way mirrors. it's an amazing life.