Everything around us, even the smallest things in our lives, has a story. Even a gash in a dining room table has a long chain of inextricably linked events that led up to that point. Why is the gash there? It was damaged during a move. Who damaged it? Your brother-in-law. How did your brother-in-law and sister meet? They were attending the same college. Et cetera. Or you could even ask the question, “Why did you move?” and a whole other story manifests.
If we stop to ask the questions about the details, small and large, we will begin to see that we all are storytellers. We create tales that stretch way beyond ourselves, even in the little things that we do. Therefore it is necessary to love well, live uprightly, and redeem every moment in our existence.
I would like to share one such story from my own life. See this record cover: signed and water-damaged (though the latter detail is less obvious in the photograph). See the admissions ticket and also-signed compact disc. I would like to tell their stories.
I was browsing the interwebs for new music, and I stumbled upon a podcast interview that the local alternative station did with a man named Kris Orlowski. I’m not sure what about this interview attracted me, but I listened to the whole thing. This guy seemed pretty cool, so I purchased his new album in a somewhat impulsive move. I listened to the album, Believer, throughout the year, and I began to appreciate the music more and more. As the end of the year approached, I even acknowledged it in my favorite albums list.
On December 2nd, Kris played a free show at my school, Everett Community College. For the first time in my life, I skipped out on part of one of my classes to watch him and his band mate Torry Anderson play. I talked with him a little after the show and bought his album on vinyl: the second record I ever purchased. When I got a record player that Christmas, his album was the first record I ever spun.
When I found out that he was playing two back-to-back all-ages shows at the Triple Door, I knew that I needed to go. When I went to buy tickets, a six person booth at the front was completely open. So, in order to secure grouped seating for most of my family and some friends, I borrowed money for my very first time to buy out the whole booth.
When I went to the show, I found out that one of my guests, fellow W\A\M contributor Michael Potter, had never been to a concert before this. I think that to be special. When I see the wrinkled corners of the record cover, the ticket, and the unsolicited W\A\M shout-out on the CD, this whole story comes to mind. But the show itself was even more prevalent than these significant memories.
\\ THE REVIEW \\
I have to mention that it is really nice to have reserved seating at a concert. After going to three general admission shows, it was nice to be able to relax and hang out in Seattle without having to worry about standing in line for a good spot to stand. The Triple Door is a great venue with wonderful sound and a nice set-up. I didn’t eat any of the food there, but it all looked really good.
Le Wrens opened the show with a set about 45 minutes long. The singer had an outstanding voice, and the instrumentation was on-point. However, the songs were drenched in a bleak worldview, relational hopelessness, and ubiquitous heartbreak. It would serve the band well to pen some more upbeat and positive songs. They have the talent to create a stellar album, but they need some balance. Maybe they haven’t written any joyful songs because they haven’t seen any redemption in their personal lives. But the show’s headliner proved that hope can be found amidst heartbreak.
With the stage being set by such despair, Kris Orlowski and his band really stuck out. They too played songs about heartbreak. However, their attitude remained positive. Instead of callously letting their spirits be crushed, they maintained in their songs a healthy optimism that was refreshing.
With regards to music and performance, Kris and the band brought down the house. The moods ranged from those of a rock concert to those of an intimate house show. During one song, Torry and Kris even got on top of a table in the venue and performed a song unplugged. Some other highlights of the show were the full-band version of “Winter, Winter” (which was one of the subjects of my last Music Thursday), another new song whose title was not given, and a distortion-driven intro to the song “Slide.” Every song was amazing, of course, but I can’t spend the time to list them all here. The on-stage production was also fabulous, though it wasn’t necessarily groundbreaking.
I also must dedicate a portion of my review to the band. While they all perform under Kris’ name, every person on stage played a vital role in the show. All are outstanding musicians and vocalists in their own right. They whole band has an impressive chemistry: one that can only be built by years of friendship. Torry’s vocals were top-notch. Mark’s guitar work was formidable. Greg and Jonathan laid down those sick beats. Kris is talented on his own, but his performance was elevated by the support of these four other musicians.
Off stage, Kris is commendable in every sense of the word. He’s classy and personal, and I believe that he is a man who loves well, lives uprightly, and redeems every moment in his existence. He meets the goal that I mentioned earlier in the post.
So whenever I go to spin Believer and see this album cover, I have the opportunity to fondly remember these experiences. My story has been impacted in a special way thanks to Kris and his music, and the cover will forever embody those memories.
So, in closing, I would recommend that you do whatever is necessary to catch Kris Orlowski and his band in concert. Cash in on your stocks. Take some money out of savings. Borrow from your parents (and pay them back, of course). Hitchhike cross-country. Or, at the very least, pick up his album Believer on vinyl, compact disc, or digital files. Also check out his other EP’s, especially his most recent free release. He also has some merchandise on his site. Follow him on the social medias. You can visit all of the aforementioned places from here. Kris Orlowski is worth a place in your own story.