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  • We could see the marquee from a block away on Broadway. We'd parked down the street and the night was cold, so we hurried down the broad, empty street hugging ourselves. A pair of young women took our tickets when we stepped into the foyer of the newly renovated Columbus Theatre. It's an old building that had gone to ruin, until the owners decided to resurrect it. I was there for the second night of its grand reopening, Revival Too!.

    The group of people in the foyer grew and buzzed, waiting for the doors to open. I leaned against the wall and people-watched. A boisterous, short, curvy woman was talking animatedly about her job as a chef at Olga's. A slender man was lamenting his day as a substitute teacher. Some teenager boys were discussing a sci-fi film. I was the youngest one there, and I'll be 17 in a month. I saw some older couples, but mostly young adults dressed in quirky clothes who I assumed had exotic names and fascinating lives.

    Sometimes I think about the people I meet tangentially. People that I brush against in my day to day life but never talk to or know. They stick in my head and I make up stories about them and the places they live and the jobs they have and the music they listen to and their lives.

    At 7PM, a man with a magnificent reddish beard, his curly hair in a ponytail beneath a fedora, and a rhinoceros pendant on a long gold chain whose name was Bryan (the man, not the rhino) came into the foyer and welcomed us warmly and enthusiastically, the swung the doors open. He spoke easily and openly, with a voice that invited you in to share stories. The Columbus has two stages: an ornate downstairs stage and a tiny tiny tiny upper room. The show I was at was Upstairs, and we all squished into the room. The back row of seats was only 20 ft away from the gloriously chaotic stage. Birdhouses hung from the ceiling, a giant, lit up letter "c" leaned against the wall, an old upright piano with its strings exposed stood at one end, and the backdrop was a Persian carpet hung from the ceiling. And the number of instruments per square foot on the stage was impossible. A trumpet stood atop the piano next to a clarinet, two drum sets were wedged next to each other, at least three guitars stood around on stands, and throughout the show an upright bass, a synthesizer, another keyboard and a fiddle were hauled onstage, and amps were crammed into every open space imaginable.

    Five groups played at the show, all Providence based. The music was incredible. I had planned since summer to see Bob Dylan in Boston on that night but my mom cancelled that a few nights earlier because Boston's a hike. I bought the tickets to Revival on impulse after hearing about it on the radio and by the end of the night I was thrilled that I hadn't been able to see Dylan play. A singer-songwriter named Kennedy opened the show, just him and his guitar. He was humble and wrote songs to break your heart. In each one his voice shook with infinite sadness. I'm emailing him now because I love to talk to strangers with sad eyes. Then Rachel Jorgensen, another singer-songwriter. Third was The Silks, a blues trio who was probably the best band I have ever seen play live. The bassist wore a goofy, adorable, just-so-damn-happy smile through their whole set. Then was Last Good Tooth, who had a fiddler and talked about shrimp a lot. Finally, The Low Anthem closed the night with sawing, deep upright bass, esoteric poetry-music and a hypnosis machine. Bryan of the rhinoceros necklace played the best harmonica I've ever heard with two (three?) of the bands.

    Somewhere in there I wandered downstairs and bought pizza that Nice Slice had brought over. Every concert should have pizza.

    The concert lasted 4 1/2 hrs and over the course of the show, the whole audience got plastered. The most incredible thing, though, was that they all remained remarkably polite, considerate drunks. It was the nicest thing I've ever seen.

    After the last song, Bird on a Wire by Leonard Cohen, performed by all the members of all the bands (and a few members of the audience), an impromptu jam session ensued involving Bryan of the rhinoceros necklace, the long haired guitarist from The Silks (who carried around a giant chalice filled with whiskey and mint tea all night) and a guy from the crowd who got up to play the piano. They just played for the sake of making music and it was infectiously happy and good.

    The atmosphere of the show was celebratory, joyous, welcoming, and equal - the musicians were just as thrilled to be there as we were. I can still smell the sweet, heavy scent that filled the room on my fingers occasionally, even though the concert feels like a night out of someone else's life. I'm so excited to hear more music out of some awesome local talent, and to see what the new-era Columbus brings to Providence in the new year.

    The track is "She" by Kennedy.
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