If you listen closely, there are multiple varying tones to applause: polite, obligatory, appreciative, supportive, congratulatory and many more. The sound of applause generates momentum and creates a feeling. Among the most special experiences is when audience applause sets the tone and spirit of a show, in contrast to coming after the events and moments of a show.
When John Paul White and Joy Williams (The Civil Wars) took the stage at The Wiltern, the applause led the show. It lasted a while. It was the sound of great triumph; the sound of victory. I don’t think I’ve experienced that specific tone of applause, in person, prior to this show. I imagine it’s heard during a parade when the hometown athlete brings home an Olympic gold medal. It may be similar to the sound of applause during the celebration of a victorious political campaign.
The applause of the crowd was amplified – we were applauding The Civil Wars, but we were also applauding ourselves. The Civil Wars are “our” band. There weren’t any radio stations, TV talk shows, publicity stunts, or million dollar marketing spends telling us we should listen to The Civil Wars. We discovered them and we told our friends. We purchase their music and sell out their live shows because we support true talent. The Civil Wars sold 100,000 records in 4 months, without a major label. The fans get credit for helping The Civil Wars succeed because there were only 3 factors in this “formula”: The Civil Wars, their music, and the fans. We did it. We “voted” for talent. And we won.
In Los Angeles, we’ve purchased tickets to The Civil Wars’ sold out shows at The Hotel Cafe (capacity: 165), Largo (capacity: 280), The El Rey (capacity: 700) and now The Wiltern (capacity: 2,300). We’ll follow them to The Greek (capacity: 5,900) and The Hollywood Bowl (capacity: 18,000). We’ll set up the “Who The Fuck Are The Civil Wars?!” website when they win their first Grammy. We’re proud of The Civil Wars. This is the music we’re choosing. These are the people we want to succeed. That is the sound of the applause that preceded The Civil Wars’ show at The Wiltern.
After the applause, the celebration, the fuck yeahs and the thank yous, the show began and, in contrast to the sound of uproarious applause, the crowd was silent. The music and voices of John Paul White and Joy Williams then carried us from one victory to the next, song after song, we celebrated The Civil Wars.
[Updated December 2, 2011]
The Civil Wars have been nominated for 2 Grammys this year: “Best Country Duo/Group Performance” and “Best Folk Album”. Here’s their interview with The Grammys upon learning the news:
If you’ve never seen Sara Bareilles perform, then you’re missing out on more than just music. You’re missing great comedy, authenticity, diversity balanced with consistency, and the coolest chick ever. This is why I’m choosing to write about a show that took place last year – because it was that good.
I was backing up some of my video files earlier today and revisited the footage I shot of Bareilles’s secret show at Room 5 in December. Her “Gravity” intro still makes me laugh, while her performance of the song continues to give me chills. I was happy Bareilles’s Grammy-nominated and “fuck off record label” tune, “Love Song,” made it to the set list even though I’d heard it countless times before. Her freshly penned song about the show Jersey Shore, written with a holiday twist, had everybody in the audience doubled over in laughter.
Bareilles’s guest appearance at Room 5′s weekly songwriters-in-the-round gathering was spontaneous, playful, and fun. You almost forgot you were there to see music. . . and then Bareilles would sing. When she sings, you’re quickly reminded why you’re there. When the show is over you’ll start thinking about when you can see Bareilles next.
Why is Bareilles the coolest chick ever? She can write, she can sing, she will make you laugh, she’s genuine, she’s unique, she’s got attitude and style. . . But what makes Bareilles cool is that she’s all that AND one of the most loyal and kind people in the world. She’s had a lot of success, has nearly 2 million followers on Twitter, and she stills shows up for her friends. She continues to play shows at Hotel Cafe to raise money for charity, even though she can sell out The Wiltern. She supports her friends, drops in on their shows, and plays for free. Rather than cancel a previously scheduled performance in Los Angeles when she was given the opportunity to appear on a TV show in New York last year, she flew across the country immediately following the TV taping and played two shows back to back the same night. You can support Sara Bareilles for her music; you can support her because she makes you laugh; or you can support her simply because she’s a good person who deserves all the success in the world.
Bareilles seeks the definition of “tie one on” and then teaches everybody the meaning of “Gravity”: