I’m sitting at a high-top in the ornately decorated Royale and I’m crying. It’s the night before my birthday and I’m soon to see Marian Hill, one of my favorite good time, pbr&b bands. I desperately want everything to be hunky-dory. My plan is to ring in 22 on the days surrounding my birthday (because being semi-adult means you have to sacrifice your actual birthday night for responsibilities) with a small group of close friends. I want it to be easy, and that’s why I was intending to wait to brief my boyfriend on the recent drama regarding Thanksgiving plans (the phrase “happy holidays” is a hoax). Instead, as we’re waiting for the openers, it comes up and the crying begins—despite the fact that I firmly believe crying in public ain’t cute (damn it).
I really was set on a good, simple birthday, though, and there wasn’t anything either of us could do about the situation so, with reassurances, I wiped off the tears and the openers came out. SHAED, an edgy, electronic, poppy trio, took the stage first. We’d never heard of the band before that night, but they managed to lift my mood. While we stayed at our table, the songs were dancey and you could tell the band was having a genuinely good time performing. Hit song “Perfume” has since been on repeat. The song sounds very Broods, highlighting Chelsea Lee’s strong and soaring vocals as well as the fun and catchy band work.
Next up was Vérité. A more popular band, they seemed to be a little less confident on the stage. Still, the alternative pop singer and her band put on another fun set. This one was a little darker than dancey. Vérité’s “Underdressed” starts out soft and slow, vulnerable, but then builds to a chorus expressing frustration with partner, singing, “Take me to the fucking roof /… / All I ever wanna do is / Stay here”. I think my taking to this song was circumstantially influenced in that I wanted to run away from problems and stay in a safe escape. For the night, music could be my safe spot. And of course, when she covered Gambino’s “Sober”, we just lost it. Another to keep our eyes on!
And then Marian Hill hit the stage. By this point, I was 1.5 shots of tequila + 3 beers – dinner into the night sooo I was feelin’ it. But Marian Hill put on such a phenomenal live show that, alcohol or not, you’re feelin’ it. Singer, producer, and saxophonist brought their all. Samantha Gongol was all over the stage, dancing and showcasing her signature seductive singing. Meanwhile, Jeremy Lloyd ensured that everyone else was also moving. Though he may not be an official member of the band, it was jazz player Steve Davit that blew me away. Lloyd no doubt knows where a drop goes, but when Davit would take centerstage with his sax the crowd went nuts. Something about the sax amplified Marian Hill’s energy, pushing past seductive to straight up sexy confidence. The night turned almost clubby, but in a fun way (coming from someone who hates all things club). Marian Hill live was all about the good time.
Back at my apartment, my roommate had baked me a cake and plotted with my boyfriend to have it lit the second we walked in the door, drunk and just past midnight. It was a super sweet, super fun way to celebrate 22. It wasn’t a perfect night, but I’m also beyond the point in my life of believing in perfect. Life doesn’t stop because it’s a birthday or holiday, but the show and my people made the night as good as it gets.