Most people have pastimes to keep themselves from going crazy. Some run, some write, others knit, paint, play sports, or dance. As for me, I like hiking, rock climbing, charcoal sketching, thrift shopping, and losing myself in the lyrics of my favorite singers.
One particularly dull night, I was feeling homesick, so I put on my headphones and turned up one of my favorite artists, Passenger, a British folk-rock band. On a whim, I decided to check his tour dates to see if he was playing near Philadelphia soon.
I couldn’t believe my eyes and had to do a double take. There it was. Philly. In 10 days. The Keswick Theatre. Just too good to be true. Only 5 minutes from Arcadia. It took me 4 minutes to call my roommate with the news and we immediately bought front-row tickets.
Ten days passed in the blink of an eye and before I knew it, I was hopping in the car, my stomach filled with butterflies. The street leading up to the theatre was lined with trees adorned with sparkling lights and the Keswick’s red-lettered marquee glowed bright. My roommate and I handed over our tickets to be scanned and walked in.
The theater had a vintage atmosphere, with gold engravings along the wall and ceilings, and red reclining chairs. Fog filled the lobby and auditorium, seeping from the stage. We took our seats and made conversation with the strangers around us. There was a newlywed couple, a father and his son, and a man who had traveled all the way from Washington, D.C., for the show.
As the lights dimmed and the audience quieted, a man walked to center-stage with a microphone stand and his guitar. It was Gregory Alan Isakov, the opener for Passenger. His soothing voice resonate amid the fog hanging in the air and the blue and purple lighted stage, gave me goosebumps. Before he closed, he asked the light tech to shut off all of the lights. We sat in complete darkness as he sang a quiet song to us to finish his set.
And then Michael Rosenberg, aka Passenger, took the stage. Sporting a scruffy beard and unbelievably tight pants and taller than I imagined, he walked out with just his guitar, a microphone, and his quirky personality. He broke the quiet with a story about a girl sneezing in the middle of a very quiet song at one of his shows in Vancouver and the awkwardness that followed when they made eye contact. And then, unexpectedly, he exhorted us to make noise, clap, and sing along with him.
Passenger filled the auditorium with music and passion, mixing in stories of how his songs came to be, anecdotes from his tour, and lessons he had learned on his journeys around Europe. In musical bliss, we lost track of time as we clapped and belted out the lyrics with him until he came to his final song, “Scare Away the Dark.” We rose from our comfy red chairs and hummed the chorus as Passenger left the stage.
But we wanted more from the quirky Brit and his catchy folk music. Slowly, the clapping died down, but instead of filing out of the theater, we took up the hum of the chorus again, quietly at first, but building until we were all humming and vibing in the darkness of the vintage theater.
And Passenger didn’t let us down, returning to sing two more songs as we stood exalting in his encore and a night we would never forget.