For Carol Roth, live music is a relatively new passion for her. In 2016, when the world was going crazy, her brain was looking for some kind of outlet to create an escape from reality, to help soothe her nerves. Prior to then she was in a lull where she didn’t really need music. This sudden change isn’t lost on her today on looking back and realizing all the major events that pushed her towards live music.
She was feeling the impending stress of the 2016 presidential election, even though it appeared Hilary Clinton would win. Carol took a trip to England which was fresh off of the Brexit vote and witnessed the division in person. While she was there, Philando Castile was shot and made international news. Soon after there was a mass shooting of cops in Dallas and it just seemed like the world was going to hell. It was a few months later she witnessed the Cactus Blossoms at the Lake Harriet band shell. It was like a light bulb going off in her head as she felt instantly connected to the music.
“It can’t be a coincidence. It has to be that my brain was like looking for some kind of respite from it all,” shares Carol.
This sparked a growing love for discovering artists and giving the local music scene a chance. 2019 was her peak year for shows as she saw just over 80. Her goal in 2020 was trying to top 100. Carol’s approach on finding local music is somewhat backwards as well. Typically people read and listen to an artists catalog before choosing to go see them live. Carol likes to go in barely knowing anything about the artists. That first time seeing someone is such a powerful new experience because you’re open to anything that happens and taking in the music.
“I’m the person that gets up really close and uncomfortably looks intently at the artist.”
In the Absence of Live Music
When March happened, Carol felt the stress. She looked at the pile of tickets and plans that had to be cancelled, including a trip to the East Coast to see the Cactus Blossoms play three times. She’s been supplementing live music with live streams and keeping a tally of those to help boost her spirits. The way she streams has also become unique.
Carol makes an event out of it, putting it on the calendar, making a drink, and picking a different spot in the house to watch. Sometimes it’s on the phone, the computer, or even the TV and tells her family she’s going out for the night. Taking screenshots and putting them on Instagram, she promotes the artists to hopefully provide an urge for others to come watch and experience it with her.
This had lead to her discovering new artists like Tommy Luke and supporting old favorites like The Sapsuckers. She’s seen some creative ideas from bands, like taking a shot when someone tips them, doing covers they’ve never done before on a jukebox themed night, and has even dove into Patreon to get more from an artist. When receiving the first round of stimulus checks, she spent all of it on music by tipping musicians and buying merchandise.
Gabriel Douglas One-On-One
When Icehouse scheduled their series of outdoor shows in the fall, Carol went through all the acts she didn’t recognize and listened to a song from each. The song “Holding Patterns” from Gabriel Douglas immediately stood out. His voice had a rich and powerful, yet somehow mellow, smooth character that intrigued her. The lyrics and looped melody, added to the gradual winding-down feel of the song. There was a concentrated theme that surrounded the song. She bought tickets in October, which just happened to be the one show that was snowed out at the Icehouse.
Fast forward to now. Carol is seated in an empty Icehouse and Gabriel Douglas climbs on stage. Cutting through the silent venue is that trademark voice and character she was drawn to. The first song a reminder of the variations of volume, the depth of acoustic guitar, and the power of sound. His first song, appropriately named “Hearts Want” off his December solo release Darker Still, instantly connected the special situation.
“The heart wants, what the heart wants, I know it
Hearts want, what hearts want, I know it (I’ve blown it)”
By the time the third song “Holding Patterns” finished the emptiness of the venue was gone. It felt intimate and big at the same time. He joked about the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe), a well hidden internet video of his brother and him reenacting a scene from Point Break, and even walked off-stage to hit the restroom, a trademark Gabriel Douglas action.
Gabriel Douglas ended up playing for over an hour, holding onto the stage and moment. His boisterous growl and gruff delivering multiple high points in that 90 minutes. Live music is a chance for artists and fans to be heard, applauded, and connected. The hope is 2021 brings a renewed reminder to appreciate, applaud, and hear your musicians. Gabriel ended the evening with another timely tune, “People Leave / People Go”.
“Sometimes people have to go
Even before bar close
Some people have to leave
Before you get what ya need”
EXCLUSIVE VIDEO – “Holding Patterns”
The Meaning of Live Music
The differences between a live stream and live music grew apparent with Carol attended her first live show during the pandemic. Charlie Parr played an outdoor show at the Midway Saloon. It made her cry because it was so powerful. It also made her realize live streams are a pale imitation to that experience. A camera is static and only shows you one piece of the performance. Watching live, you have the ability to focus on the way they’re performing, the fretwork, or how they tap their feet. You can control the visual.
“It just feels more present. There’s that separation of the screen that’s more profound than I acknowledge most of the time, cause I want it to be special,” Carol claims.
One of her favorite memories was having free admission to a Turf show and First Avenue show on the same night. Catching part of the headliner at Turf, then hopping on the light rail to end at First Avenue, brings back memories and the adventure of going out for music. Live music is about the intent and desire to catch something before it’s gone. It’s a feeling that many of us are missing right now.
Listen to Gabriel Douglas in many of this bands and projects at the links below.