I feel the way about City and Colour that most of friends felt about Taylor Swift in high school: he just gets it.
I often find myself unable to listen to his music for too long, because it just produces such a visceral, emotional reaction in me that I need breaks from it.
The first time I saw him live was kind of an accident. A girl I had recently met had a free ticket to this music festival he happened to be playing at, but because I hadn’t really heard of him at the time, we basically talked through his whole set. (We’re best friends now.)
The second time I saw him was at another music festival: Lollapalooza. It was raining and dark, so we stood in the way back on the cement instead of the grass. The weather basically turned the whole endeavor into a religious experience for me. However, my friend just wasn’t into it, and we were pretty far away, so I still didn’t get the full experience.
This was the third time.
I’m going to openly admit I’m extremely biased here, but, truly, never have I seen a more meaningful set-list. Dallas started with his most surface level, boppity tunes, such as “Runaway,” and “Killing Time,” and, frankly, I was disappointed. That part of his repertoire is my least favorite, because they sound the most surface-level, while so much else of his delves so deeply into the human condition. But, as the set went on, he proved me wrong.
The bop was the first third. The middle third got much harder, more rock and roll: “Wasted Love,” “Fragile Bird,” “Weightless.” The final third focused on the more sentimental, softer ballads: “Comin’ Home” “Hello, I’m in Delaware,” “Little Hell.”
For me, and hopefully for Dallas, this perfectly mimicked a human relationship. When you meet someone, you share the surface details of your life; even if you’re falling apart you try to sound happy because you don’t want to be a burden. It’s extremely boring. No one really likes it, but it’s what you have to do to ease into getting to know someone.
Once that relationship continues, there’s push-back. You find out things about each other that you don’t like. You worry the other person won’t accept your problems or baggage. You struggle. You become angry. You put up walls. You tear down those walls but get frustrated when the other person hasn’t. You’re passionate.
But then, once you get past that, you find that sweet spot. You listen to each other. You care. You help each other solve problems in a productive way and create sympathy. It’s compassionate. It’s nice. It’s soft.
And then, after this “performance,” he did the encore alone, with only an acoustic guitar. So after creating this masterpiece of music and set list, then he was like, “Hey, I’m just Dallas.”
It was utterly, utterly perfect.
I’m an incredibly anxious person, and normally when I go to shows I sit and freak out about if they’ll play my favorite song and how much time is left and yada yada yada. But here, I was present. Yes, I wanted him to play my favorites (which he did!), but I was also super content to just sit there and let him play and listen. It was enrapturing, mesmerizing. I truly felt like I could have stayed there all night and never wanted to leave.
I’m not sure I’ll ever leave a City and Colour show feeling completely sated, though. There’s just something about him and his genius that I feel like I’ll never truly understand, even as much as I feel like he understands what I’ve been through, as evidenced by his music. It’s like he washes over me without ever truly sinking it. It’s almost ghost-like. But, I’m going to keep trying, and, this time, I think he got about as close as he could.