I’ll be honest, until last Thursday’s concert, I’ve never liked Brett’s music. Something about his nasally, oddly accented voice never inspired me via speakers. Why then, did I go to this concert? Three reasons:
1. Blind Pilot, the opening band, serenaded me sane through the most stressful semester of college. For that, I love them and had to see their show.
2. My younger sister ADORES Brett Dennen. She is going to be Brett for Halloween (This is completely true. I helped her pick out her costume.)
3. This was aforementioned sister’s first concert.
So, selflessly I went into what I knew would be three hours of ear-splitting torture in sister solidarity. Within minutes, Brett Dennen had obliterated all my preconceptions about him. In a good way. This is an abbreviated list of what surprised me, in order of revelation:
1. Brett is taller than I expected, sitting pretty at 6’5” (at least according to this guy. Technicalities aside, Brett is TALL.) Tall people fascinate me.
2. Brett is also slimmer than expected.
3. During this show I would be spending a lot of time looking at Brett’s feet. The first thing the audience demanded was that Brett “TAKE OFF YOUR SHOES!” A request which he happily and immediately obliged.
4. Brett can DANCE. The moment the first notes hit our ears, he was already sauntering around the stage inch by inch, using every single one of his toes to propel his lanky body around the worn, red rug. His suave, confident and, at times, silly motions made me believe he’s done this before, and he knows how to please a crowd. Rightly so. At 32, he’s older than the average singer-strummer, so he’s got stage chops. But he doesn’t look a day over 17.
5. Brett reminds me of Michael Jackson. His willowy build and cryptic, flowy hand movements, god-like hip mobility (see #4), and innocent grin reminded me of a red-headed Prince of Pop, the indie-version. Or maybe it was his odd, unexpected voice. Or maybe his stage presence? I can’t explain it better, but the MJ vibe stayed with me.
6. Brett has a really good voice. As a former non-fan, I was not expecting this one. But what I had found annoying on first listen, I fell in love with on first real-life listen. The music was good, and though I didn’t know the words, I knew I’d be dancing (not crying) for the next three hours.
The set list included most of the tracks from his Loverboy album, vintage 2011. His opening song is what I’m currently considering my favorite—a tune called “Dancing at a Funeral” It’s a plea to be happy—not sad and mournful—because we’ll all die someday, so don’t be shy, damnit. Live life your way. This song set the tone for the concert, and speaks perfectly to Brett’s ethos. Tattooed on his forearms are the words, “only love,” and “nothing lasts forever”—reminders of the impermanence of life. For Brett, time is precious, not to be wasted on a life determined by anyone else. And his passion comes through in his performance. He sang through his eyes—even though they were pinched shut most of the time—like he was playing for himself, and he just let us in on the performance. Every word he spoke, sang and danced was the truth.
His most honest moment came at the encore, when his bandmates retreated and he was left with an acoustic guitar, serenading us with “Just Like The Moon.” He strummed with eyes closed, and began crooning about a person born during an eclipse, named Moon Child. While the from the moon light keeps him awake at night, he’ll never be the same. “In the night, I can feel your love light shining bright. Tell me, how am I supposed to fall asleep?” was the question. He sang these words, stopped strumming his guitar, and raised his arms in exasperation, let them drop to his sides. How am I supposed to fall asleep?
This time when we laughed and clapped, Brett turned his back to the audience as his band crept back onstage.
Two seconds later, we were smiling and stomping to an upbeat Brett song—probably one of his popular singles, “Darling Do Not Fear” or “Comeback Kid.” I don’t remember, but that was the joy of Brett’s concert—the severe honesty and his ability to draw you into his world, whether it’s an upbeat, feel-good reminder to live your life while you can, a story only he understands, or a celebration of the really weird kid inside us all.