Sunday, December 11, 2011

Oh What Fun

II have this tradition with a couple of my dear friends.  It's a simple tradition, but every year, when Sara Bareilles visits SF, we get tickets and go en masse.  Sometimes there are 10 of us, sometimes there are 5 of us, but we always go out to support her.  See (and forgive me if I get a little "we knew her when" nostalgic for a minute), we go way back with Ms. Bareilles. Sara was definitely a fixture at UCLA back in the day, and since she and I were in the same a cappella group (albeit a year apart), we often ran in the same circles.  Since I wasn't 21 at the time when most of my friends would gather at Westwood Brewing Company and Temple Bar to see her play,  I ended up selling merch at her shows.  Nobody cards the merch girl, let me tell ya.

Anyway, I spent three or four years selling homemade CDs, DVD singles of music videos made with friends, and I can still remember the first night we had t-shirts.  And a self-produced album that actually looked like a Real Live CD (it was shrinkwrapped, yo).  Things started feeling more legit.  She started drawing larger crowds and "headlining" the small local venues instead of being a 20 minute opener.  I used to accept compliments on her behalf (we looked more alike back then when I was college-thin), and giggle at the fact that people confused me for her, while using the misunderstanding to push more sales (shh secrets).

In 2007, she hosted her CD release party for Little Voice at the Hotel Cafe (whoa, found a video from that night online), and people were clamoring to get a copy.  Offering to buy the "Love Song" tshirt off my back if we ran out.  I was in a little merch booth, not just at a table in the corner, and honestly, at times I was glad for the separation.  I remember thinking how crazy it all seemed, that she was autographing CDs, not just selling them to people who wanted the music from that night's show.

In 2008, she headlined at The Fillmore.  They freaking recorded it.  You can buy the DVD on Amazon.

When she played the Cafe duNord in SF in 2009, I was recently unemployed and available to merch all three nights of shows.  That was the first time I got teary-eyed; during "Love Song", the audience sang along so loudly that she stopped singing to listen.  It hit me that this might be the last time I would be working behind the scenes for Sara - I felt something changing that night, and I felt all Mama Bear Proud.  We sold more merch than ever that night.  She had a new tour manager, who had kind of made light of the selling merchandise end of things, but once I showed him the numbers afterwards, I got to puff up my chest a little bit.  "Yeah, I'm good at this, dude.  I've been selling Sara's stuff for almost seven years now."

Now she's judging The Sing Off on NBC, which has of course garnered her another bajillion fans.  In the smallest world ever, of course one of the groups competing was made up of more alums of our a cappella group (hi, Sonos).  It was a trip to turn on the TV and see the faces of so many people I love.

Fast forward to last night.  The Bill Graham Auditorium, which has a capacity of over 10,000, was nearly full.  People standing all the way to the back walls, and sitting in the balcony.  Everyone singing and laughing and dancing and pouring love up onto that stage. Fans with coordinated signs. Teenage girls on the street saying "I know she's not singing yet, but I can like, feel her presence!" basically blew my mind.  Fans lining up by her tour bus, waiting for over two hours in the cold after the show for a chance to say hello.  Scheduled meet and greets for radio winners.  Not to mention the show itself -- she's come a long way from those tiny bar shows where it was just her and an electric piano and occasionally a friend jumping in on percussion or guitar.  Last night was a bona fide rock concert.  I can't help but giggle when she steps away from the piano to strut back and forth across the stage, fans reaching up to touch her hands.

If this sounds like a big ole love letter to Sara Bareilles, well, I guess it is.  I am so, so, overwhelmingly proud of this girl.  She has worked incredibly hard to get to this place, and has managed to stay true to herself and her music, not compromising her f-bombs and lame (I mean hilarious) jokes or turning into some high-maintenance diva.  I have so much love for this girl, you guys.  I don't know if you can tell.  And I didn't even give buckets and buckets of love to Javi and Josh, who have been here since the early days, the super crazy talented guys on guitar and drums.  Love, love love.

Every time we get together to see her shows, I leave with the warm fuzzies.  And this time, I thought I'd share them with you.  Happy Holidays!  :D

Josh, Becka, me, Sara and Emika
(Dana took the picture)

Bonus: holiday hilarity from Sara and Ben Folds (do you think it was awkward for Nick Lachey?)