As I mentioned in a previous post, I don’t exactly have a “bucket list.” My fear of not completing my goals keeps me from making goals that I’m not sure that I can keep. There are, however, times in my life where I’ve looked around and realized that I was living a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Things that would definitely be on my bucket list if I had one. I have admittedly been blessed to have had a bunch of these times, so many that I’ve had to separate them up into multiple posts!
This week, I wanted to discuss those retroactive bucket list items that were music related.
Seeing Sara Bareilles and Jason Mraz in Waitress on Broadway
I didn’t really get into Sara Bareilles and her music until a few years ago, but after acquainting myself with some of her music, her album Blessed Unrest became my favorite album of all time, hands-down. And when anyone edges out Billy Joel for my favorite anything when it comes to music, it’s a big deal. After I fell in love with Blessed Unrest, I started listening to Waitress and fell in love with that album as well. Waitress was originally a movie (which I still have yet to see), but when they made a stage show, they asked Sara Bareilles to write the music, and thus a wonderful album was born. While I always enjoyed the album, I had never planned on going to see the show. One night while just mindlessly watching TV and scrolling on my phone, I saw that Sara Bareilles and Jason Mraz would be performing the show together for two weeks only on Broadway.
You mean to tell me that the woman who wrote the album for the show (as well as my favorite album of all time) and the man who did it with her would be performing the show live?! Instant bucket list item.
In very Renata fashion, I texted Becky, the one friend who I knew would want to see it with me and stared at my phone intently until she answered. I started doing calculations in my head. If it was too much for her to spend, how much of her ticket could I pay for? I would gladly foot at least some of the bill to have her come with me…
After some conversation and budgeting, my friend decided, like I did, that we just couldn’t pass this opportunity up. I bought the tickets quickly, before she could change her mind.
A week and a half later, we were boarding a train for New York City. We bought tickets that only allowed us to make it to the show, grab a quick bite to eat, then get back home so that we didn’t get home too late. I wanted to see the show, but I’m never one to stay too long in NYC. There are just way too many people, it’s like my personal nightmare. We got off the train and immediately started weaving through throngs of people towards the theater, holding hands so as not to lose each other.
Once we got in and sat down, I started to bounce. WE WERE HERE! WE WERE HERE! It was unbelievable. There were “waitresses” walking around selling bites of pie in little mason jars. If you don’t know the show well, Waitress is about a woman who works at a diner and is known for her awesome pies. So obviously, there was no way I was going to sit in a theater in NYC to see Waitress and not buy some pie. Before the show started, Sara Bareilles came on the loudspeaker and sang a little ditty about turning off your cell phones…to the tune of her song Cassiopeia…my favorite song from my favorite album…a song that made me consider getting a constellation tattoo. I fell in love with Blessed Unrest long after it came out, so there was no way that I would see her do the album live. But hearing her do my favorite song…well, now I can die happy.
The play was awesome, naturally. Sara Bareilles naturally took the lead and performed all of her songs brilliantly, and Jason Mraz stole the show as the awkward doctor. It was everything I dreamed and more. To this day, I still cannot believe that I had the opportunity to see these two perform Waitress live, something that may never even happen again.
American Music Abroad
When I was in high school, I was lucky enough to be able to go on a trip to Europe with other high school students in the area. My friend and classmate Sarah and I joined 20 other students touring throughout Europe and sang during the summer before our junior year. We spent a few days in the US rehearsing our music all together, then flew to Europe for a couple of weeks. Obviously, this trip was a once-in-a-lifetime trip for me for several reasons, but there are a few that stick out to me as true “bucket-list-worthy” items.
It’s always amusing when I find myself stuck places. Recognizing that I do not suffer when I am in closed spaces like others do, getting stuck often leaves me with the excited buzz of the unknown. What’s going to happen? Will we be able to get out on our own? Will we have to be carried out by the fire department? Will we have to resort to cannibalism? Who knows? While in Europe with American Music Abroad, we all got stuck in a large ski lift together. There was room enough for all twenty-something of us in the car, making it so that we could all join in on excited, nervous chatter together. We were riding up a mountain in the Alps, how would anyone come and save us if we needed saving? In order to calm our nerves, we sang some songs together, one of which was a prayer. We started moving after about 20 minutes, but to us, it felt much longer. And of course, there were jokes that our prayer song made the car move again. One of the women in our group stood up and joked that she was “no longer an atheist.” I actually wrote a poem for a college course about this event, and was told it was too “unrealistic.” But it actually happened, I swear!
While spending the day walking around a town in Germany, our group ran into a German high school choir. None of us spoke much German, but we made as much conversation as we were able. They asked us to sing a song for them in the middle of the town square, and we picked the most moving song in our repertoire, Hear My Prayer by Moses Hogan. After singing only a few lines, the German choir joined in — they knew the song, too! I couldn’t help but look around and see if anyone else was struggling to believe that this was real. Music was connecting all of us and serving as our form of communication, even if we couldn’t really speak with each other. And that, my friends, is what cheesy Hallmark movies are made of.
We did another rendition of this poignant piece when we visited the concentration camp at Dachau. Our choir gathered in the synagogue built in the camp and sang tearfully as the weight of what had happened there fell on us. Those were the only words that we spoke while we were there. The rest of the time, we walked around the camp in humbled silence. This is probably the only time I will ever visit a concentration camp, and it was truly one of the most deeply moving moments of my life.
Getting Moved to the Front Row
I’ve been to many concerts in my life. I love the energy that the venue has when everyone is enjoying a band live. My friend Rachel got me into Paramore in college, and so far, we’ve seen them live twice (and made custom concert tees once).
The second Paramore concert that we saw was in a small, indoor venue in Pennsylvania, and even though we had seating assignments and we did not get to the venue super early, we still waited for a long time outside. Each person picking up their tickets at will-call took at least 20 minutes, and by the time we got to the front of the line, we were getting worried that something was wrong with the seating.
When we picked our tickets up, the person at will-call wrote something quickly on our tickets, let us know that the seats we originally had had been removed, and sent us away. Rachel and I stared at each other wide-eyed and terrified. We assumed that they collapsed some rows for a mosh pit in the front rows and began to feel furious. As people who like to have very well defined space so that other people can’t intrude, we’re not the biggest fans of general admission tickets that mean people will be up in our space. This would completely change our concert experience, and not for the better.
We walked into the venue grumbling under our breath. Sure, I’m always down for adventure, but I usually prefer that adventure to not involve someone elbowing me to stand in front of my very short frame. We went down to our seats preparing for the worst.
But the closer we got to the stage, the more clear it became that there wasn’t a moshpit. There were seats all the way to the front of the stage. And those directly in front of the stage were ours. My jaw hit the floor — we were going to see Paramore from the front row?! For as many concerts as I’ve been to, I’ve never sat in the front row. I assumed that I would never sit in the front row because I’ve never been interested in paying for that right. But here we were, handed first-row tickets. This is an experience that I will remember (and brag about) forever.
Singing with Amy Noonan
For those of you who don’t know, Amy Noonan is the lead singer of the band formerly known as Karmin (now called Qvenn Herby). If you’re not sure who Karmin is, they sing that one song that was popular that one summer called “Brokenhearted.” You know, the one that goes “see I’ve been waiting all day…for you to call me bay-bay…” yeah, see, you know it!
Well I saw Karmin open for the Jonas Brothers back when they had that trip and I became obsessed. Not only did I really enjoyed how their songs sounded, but Amy Noonan has some mad rapping skills. I bought all of their songs and listened to them until I knew every lyric. They announced their tour for their latest album my junior year of college, and I was hellbent on seeing them live. But there was only one problem…the tour started while I was abroad…and ended before I came back. Later, they added extra tour dates that still ended before I came back stateside. I just couldn’t win!
I still listened to their music obsessively while I was abroad in France. I even entered a contest where I had to create a music video to their song “I Want It All” while I was abroad. I talked all about that in my Study Abroad Edition post.
Even though I didn’t win that contest, my Karmin journey didn’t end there! Years later, a local radio station was giving away the chance to see them live at a restaurant at a casino in Atlantic City. I immediately reached out to Becky (yes, the same Becky who came with me to see Waitress) and as usual, she was down for a random adventure and awesome music.
The “concert” went pretty much as planned. They were just playing on a small stage in Margaritaville while people were eating dinner. There was a space to gather in front of the stage, but plenty of people stayed at their tables. It became apparent pretty quickly that they weren’t exactly going to do a full set, but as long as I was seeing them live, I was happy. They got to their hit song “Brokenhearted” way too fast, but as it started, Amy started making her way off the stage. With a small crowd in front of her, it was pretty easy for her to go up to everyone personally. So she came up to me and Becky for part of the song and I GOT TO SING “BROKENHEARTED” WITH AMY NOONAN.
Did you get that? Didn’t think so, I’ll say it again…
I SANG “BROKENHEARTED” WITH AMY NOONAN.
I can truly die happy now.
This post is part of my “Things That I Didn’t Know Were on My Bucket List” series where I talk about some once-in-a-lifetime opportunities I’ve had. I hope that it inspires you to reminisce about yours, too! You can find my previous posts in this series below: