Concert Knowledge: 7 things I learned at James Blake

james blake hob

On Tuesday, I experienced one of the best nights of my life. No, I didn’t renounce my vegetarian ways to try a Spicy With for the first time–I saw James Blake in concert at the Boston House of Blues, and it was unreal. Sorry, Camus, but I’ve actually discovered the meaning of life and it’s obviously beautiful British singers with incredible hair and angelic voices. Below are 7 things I learned at the James Blake concert, or as I like to call it, the day James Blake touched my hair, shoulder, and soul.

1. Make friends.

I really had no problem going to this concert alone because I was going to see James Blake in the flesh and that was all that mattered.It was still good, though, to bond with others over our mutual appreciation of Sir James’ perfection [Ed.: pretty sure he’s not a knight…], and just good music in general. I ended up making concert friends simply by remarking how cold it was outside, how annoying those drunk bros behind us were, and how tear-jerking James’ live rendition of “A Case of You” was. (I whispered, “My heart…” and the girl next to me said “Saaaame,” and bam. Insta-buddies). Also, if your new concert friend takes videos or pictures that you were unable to take because you were too busy jamming to those sick beats, you can always ask whether he/she can email them to you later.

2. Embrace the music (loopy dancing most definitely encouraged).

Many people, in efforts to retain their “too cool for school” concert persona, remain stoic throughout the set and barely even move. They also give the stink eye to anyone who shows any remote sign of enjoying himself/herself. Please, don’t be like these perpetually morose hipsters. If a song comes up and you feel like doing the microwave dance, go ahead! Throw your hands up in the air and wave them like it’s Woodstock. Who cares if you look like you’re on shrooms? What matters is that you’re having the time of your life. The guy in front of me completely lost it when “CMYK” picked up speed, and it was precious. Just be careful not to elbow anyone or smack someone in the face, because no one wants to start a mosh pit in a nu-wave trip-hop concert. I’m pretty sure that’s what the kids call it nowadays.

3. Epileptics, beware.

…or, really, anyone that’s just highly sensitive to strobe lights and other elaborate light displays beware. I expected the set to be relatively chill, and it was for the most part. James’ crooning voice had everyone in a trance, but then some songs started playing and holy cannoli, I felt like the bass would literally blow me away. The music reverberated through every inch of my body and at some points it felt like my heart was having a dance party of its own. Personally, I enjoyed the dramatic lights and acoustics because they complemented the music nicely and I was still able to clearly hear James’ melodious voice all the while. But I did notice some people squinting their eyes and stuffing paper in their ears. If you’re one of these, come prepared with emergency earplugs and try to stand further back in the audience. Or, come to terms with the fact that you just might be getting old.

4. Live versions can be extremely different from recorded versions.

“Measurements” is the song that I play when I want to just take a break from everything around me and breathe. It’s soothing, but not the depressing type of soothing where you just want to cry your eyes out (I have Radiohead for that). But when James sang the song at the end of his set, I was dumbfounded. The depth and soul of the live version was indescribable. He miraculously managed to make the entire audience quiet, even the drunken bros behind me. I know this phrase gets thrown around a lot, but in that moment, I swear we were infinite. Perhaps those sketchy fumes rising from the audience also had something to do with it.

5. If you scream during a slow song, you will become the most hated person in the room.

Coughing in the Absolute Quiet Room in the SciLi doesn’t even compare to the amount of hate you’ll get if you repeatedly scream, “I love you!” or “Whooo!” during an artist’s more emotional songs. It’s rude and tacky. Also, please refrain from yodeling, or whatever the heck you’re doing, when an artist is giving a heartfelt talk. If you absolutely must say something out loud, make sure the timing is right and it’s relevant. A person in the audience yelled out, “Congrats on the Mercury Prize!” in between songs and James smiled and warmly thanked him. Giving the artist praise like that is good, but don’t overdo it (refer to the “yaaassss Gaga” incident). But really, y’all should give up on loudly professing your love for James Blake at his concerts. He already loves me, duh.

 6. Don’t be embarrassed to approach the artist afterward.

I was debating whether or not to wait outside by the tour bus to see if James Blake would come out. After all, my groupie days had ended with my Jonas Brothers (RIP) phase. Still, I decided to wait along with my newly found concert friends. And now, I have beautiful memories and pictures because I decided to not give a fuck. James came out to greet the few fans that were waiting outside the tour bus and spent a good 40 minutes talking to us. I died. He was extremely humble and laid back, and was willing to take pictures with all of us. Some people had gifts for him, and he graciously accepted them all. He even agreed to email a girl back who was starting her own music blog. I wanted to give him something but I came unprepared, so I frantically searched inside my backpack and pulled out the first things I could find: a Brown marching band pin and a Brown pen (in deo speramus boiii). He laughed and thanked me, and said it was extremely kind of me. I think he then asked me questions about Brown. I cannot recall perfectly. It’s all a blur.

7. James Blake deserves all the awards (also he is the Hugh Grant of music).

James Blake won the prestigious Mercury Prize in the UK this year, but that will not suffice. He deserves a Grammy or ten. His voice is inimitable. It is perfectly smooth like cocoa butter. It is a warm cup of pumpkin chai on a chilly morning. (I enjoy my cheesy analogies, thank you very much.) And, when that voice is combined with his piano playing and unexpected booming bass, magic happens. It’s truly unlike anything you’ve ever heard.  James Blake just oozes classiness and carries himself with such poise that it physically pains me. Also, he has convinced me that British men are infallible. Seriously.

Image via Athylia Paremski, BU ’16

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