New Orleans. Wow, where to even start? It was kind of the most random weekend of my life. It started out as a few of us planning to go to the Andrew Bird concert, and I think the final count of our group that went was somewhere around 15. CRAZY.
The original plan was this: Hannah, Ruth, Patrick, Michael, Kara, Casey, Britt, and Jonathan were going to come down Friday night and spend the night in my apartment. Yeah. After about five seconds I realized that was not going to work. So after some finagling we decided to leave the guys in my place and me and the rest of the girls would go sleep at Anna's because I don't even think I have enough square feet for all of those people. Well, a kink got put in that plan when Hannah called me at approximately 10 pm to say that her car was broken down in the ghetto part of Montgomery. She had hit something in the road and there was a hole in her radiator. Also there were five other people in her car with her. So by the time Kara, Britt, and Jonathan arrived here, they were hanging out at some sketchball McDonald's waiting for a tow truck and for another friend of ours to come deliver a car to them. I'm still a little fuzzy on how this all happened, but at about 2:30 am they made it to Mobile. I'm still in awe that it was not me that was on the side of the road having car troubles, and I'm sorry that Hannah had to go through that and pay a ton of money to have her car fixed, but it all worked out and everyone was okay so that's all that mattered.
The next morning, we woke up and went to Satori (which was mysteriously closed) and then to Carpe Diem to get coffee and breakfast. Anna Foust, because she is rockin', drove my car (Phil) because I hate driving but we trusted my car a little more than hers. It worked out quite nicely.
We got a late start (one lost/found credit card, no big) but we got to New Orleans about 12:30 or so. Hannah (who is awesome) selected our hotel sight unseen based on Internet reviews. This is sometimes a good idea and sometimes not. I still can't decide which it was. It may have been in the dodgiest neighborhood of New Orleans. However, the hotel was adorable. It was called the Olde Town Inn and it was bright yellow and you had to go through this awesome courtyard thing to get to the room. Inside, the room looked like it was built in approximately 1850, but it was charming and there were about 10 of us staying in it so it didn't really matter anyway. And it was super cheap and we're all still alive so no complaints here. We took some sweet photoshoots in the parking lot. And by "we," I mean Britt Doss, aka Chanel No. 5 for all of you medical school readers. He and Kara both have really legit cameras and they were snappin' all weekend long and I don't even know where the batteries for my camera are, so.... I stole his pictures. I would have stolen hers but she hasn't put them on Facebook yet.
me and Kara in front of some random blue trailer in the parking lot. things are very colorful in this city.
Kara, me, Anna, and Jonathan being really random. I am talking to my mom on the phone.
We met up with our super cool friends Mark and Sam who are from Hattiesburg and we all ate lunch at this cute place called Angeli's. Apparently Brad and Angelina eat there all the time. Also Miles (my super awesome friend who goes to Tulane and used to be my fake Facebook husband for like two years) came and met up with us and he showed me where they actually live which is right around the corner. I was freaking out. I wanted to stalk them and their sixteen little multicultural children. Until someone pointed out that they don't really "live" in New Orleans that much because they are always making movies and doing Hollywood stuff. So we didn't bump into them. Oh well. After lunch we kind of split up because we were obnoxiously large. The group of us, I mean. None of us were particularly large individually. So me and Miles and Anna went in search of coffee (duh) and found some, in the form of a "granita," which is my new favorite beverage. It's like a coffee slushy, which sounds gross, but it's like all the best properties of coffee (caffeinated, delicious, sweet but not too sweet) mixed with all the properties of a slushy (you get to drink it with a straw, it's cold and fun) and combined, there is a sort of multiplier effect so that it is infinitely better than the sum of its parts. (Note: the fact that I was walking down the street in New Orleans in short sleeves on a 75 degree February afternoon probably made the beverage even tastier.)
candid shot. me and miles apparently coordinated our sunglass-adjusting.
Miles gave Anna and I the tour-guide version of the city. I paid attention to about 30% of it. It's a cool place. Also we went into Urban Outfitters, where I didn't buy a scarf. Soon we found Kara and Britt and Jonathan where they were sitting on the grass in Jackson Square. (An aside: Kara was carrying my wallet in her purse. In return, I carried around her neon yellow Frisbee all day. I looked ridiculous.) So we hung out there for a little bit and people-watched. Then we realized that we should probably make the trek back to the hotel so we could stash our purses and stuff before the show. Let me just say that the hotel was about 2.5 miles away. I have never walked so much in one day in my life. Also we were kind of confused about where we were going. We passed a very nice looking gay couple wearing Gucci glasses and decided to ask them for directions. This is how the conversation went. (This occurred at approximately 4:30 pm in broad daylight.)
Anna: Excuse me, do you know how far up North Rampart Street is?
Man: (shocked look on his face) Why on earth would you be going there? For the parade? (we are clearly heading the opposite direction of the parade)
Anna: It's where our hotel is.
Man: (exchanging nervous glances with his partner) Well, okay... it's a few blocks up that way and turn right. And STAY TOGETHER, girls. Good luck.
A little more afraid than we had been, we completed the walk to the hotel. After we finished getting ready, we turned right back around and started to walk down to the French Quarter. The first Mardi Gras parade was occurring that night. We were hoping to catch some of it before the show. Well, the only problem with that plan was that we were also hungry, and we wanted a quick place to grab food. Turns out that every place along the parade route was PACKED. So we had to go super out of the way to eat at this sushi place called Wasabi, and while we were there we discovered that Jonathan did not have his driver's license. He ran back to the hotel (again) and couldn't find it there either, so everyone was pretty frazzled. Finally, at around 7, we met back up with Jonathan (still ID-less) and headed towards the House of Blues. There was an obstacle in our way, however, in the form of the Mardi Gras parade. We had to cross the street where the parade was happening, and that just wasn't going to work. We got lucky, though, because it was the tail end of the parade and we only had to wait 10 or so minutes for it to pass.
After we crossed the street, we asked some nice looking people which way we needed to go to get to the House of Blues. Their response: "Are you guys going to Andrew Bird! Oh man! Lucky dogs!" I felt pretty awesome. Also we hightailed it there, speedwalking through a massive crowd the entire way, and the 5 of us made it in like 10 minutes. We might be the best speed walkers New Orleans has ever seen. And we weren't even wearing fanny packs. When we got to the HOB, we lined up outside to get our hands stamped. (I got my hands stamped! And a bracelet! I'm so old!) While in line we met up with the rest of our group. There was a lot of ticket shuffling and random plans being made because a few of the guys didn't have tickets. Ruth and Casey discovered that Joshua Radin was also playing at the HOB the same night and so they sold their Andrew Bird tickets so they could go to that one. I was the tiniest bit jealous because I love Josh but I knew I was making the right decision. Because let me tell you, this was the most amazing musical performance I have seen in my entire life. I am not even exaggerating right now. I didn't really know what it would be like because Andrew Bird's music is really different than most other stuff I listen to, but I was seriously impressed.
Okay so when he first came onto the stage, it was just him - no band or anything. He was holding his violin. He began by plucking out a really simple phrase on the strings. Meanwhile, he was pressing all these foot pedals. I figured out in about 2 seconds that what he was doing was recording that phrase and looping it. So he plucked a phrase, recorded it, played it on loop, then he plucked a different phrase and did the same thing. Then he got out his bow and started playing phrases. All of this got layered on top of each other until it sounded like a freaking orchestra was playing except nope, it was just him. Then when all the violin parts were recorded he picked up his guitar and started doing the same thing. I think all of our chins were about to hit the floor. He played a few songs solo just like that. Then his band came out and it was no less amazing. The keyboardist was also the drummer, and the bass player also played saxophone. No big deal.
Oh, and did I mention the whistling? Because he whistles with perfect pitch. I don't even understand how you can do that, but he would stand there for a second, bow poised above the violin, lost in thought, and then he would launch into a melody, simultaneously playing and whistling. I think he might have had a flute hidden inside his mouth because I do not know of anyone who can make noises like that. It was so weird and cool. By the time he got a few songs into the set, his violin bow was shedding strings like crazy. It was kind of funny to watch him playing and there were long strings hanging off of both ends of the bow.
His stage had some pretty crazy additions to it. This is just a picture I found off the Internet (there was no screen at the House of Blues, it's a really small venue) but check out these awesome megaphone things. The white one in the back spins around and created a Doppler effect during the really intense songs.
I would like to meet this Andrew Bird someday, because I think he would be a very interesting person. He is almost certainly very weird. I heard an NPR interview with him once where they asked him what other music he had been listening to lately. He thought for a minute, and then answered something to this effect: "I used to walk into record stores and just want to buy everything and listen to it. But lately, I haven't been doing that very much. The music that is going on inside my head is really more than enough for me." And after seeing him, I believe it. Anyone who stands on stage with a violin in one hand and a guitar strapped to his back, all the while whistling perfect melodies and operating multiple looping and recording foot pedals, has probably got some pretty intense music going on inside his head.
Here are a few of my favorite songs he played. I have tried to find youtube videos that capture what was happening because it's pretty mind-boggling.
a nervous tic motion of the head to the left
fitz and the dizzyspells
After the show, we went to Cafe Du Monde to get beignets. They were amazing. The rest of them ended up going out but Anna, Kara, and I headed back to the hotel because it was like 1:30 am and we were beat, and I have narcolepsy and that is way past my bedtime. Nothing really eventful (thank goodness) happened on the way back to sketchville. We did see two really drunk guys riding bicycles and yelling stupid insults at each other from across the street and it was pretty hilarious. By the time we got back, we pretty much fell straight asleep and then we woke up at 10 and drove back in our pajamas.
It was a pretty awesome weekend if I do say so myself. This post is also really long and I'm sorry if I bored any you, but you should definitely check out a couple of the videos and maybe you will understand what I mean about how awesome it was.