Ithaca’s beautiful State Theatre is one of those best-kept secrets that you could spend your entire time at Cornell never seeing. Thankfully, I was introduced to it last year, when my friends in Keeton House hooked me up with free tickets to the Blind Boys of Alabama and Preservation Hall Jazz Band (Side note: just bought this album, and it’s amazing.) I loved the concert and the venue, and fortunately I got to go back this weekend to see one of my very favorite bands: The Avett Brothers. Imagine the best parts of folk, punk, classical cello, and bluegrass combined into one supremely talented foursome. Throw in beautiful lyrics, extremely high-energy performances, amazing chemistry between the musicians, and a growing but dedicated fan base… and I feel much better about still having a band to follow around the world when the E Street Band stops touring.
I went with one of the few people in the world I can trust to not judge me when I sing and dance along — badly and loudly — to the music I love. And she dutifully learned all of the songs I lent to her, plus everything she could find on YouTube, plus shoved me to the front of the pit at the end of the show when Scott Avett shook everyone’s hands. That’s friendship right there. The show was incredible — they managed to include nearly every song of personal importance to me. Two of those songs, Head Full of Doubt/Road Full of Promise and Backwards with Time, seem to capture life in this liminal period so beautifully. Being towards the front of the pit with such a dedicated and friendly crowd made it all the more special. It was clear that the band was so happy to be in Ithaca. I think our town has the kind of sensibility that matches the band: the crowd had just the right mix of hippies, preppy kids, folk musicians, country people, vest-wearers, and whatever weird combination of those groups Michelle and I occupy. Maybe a category for people who love great live performances, historic theaters, and life in Ithaca?