Stageit is an online site that streams exclusive concerts to ticket-holders. From their website: "Where performers can broadcast LIVE and interactive experiences directly from a laptop, while offering unique fan experiences that are never archived." (Out of respect for this, any videos I'll be posting will not be from Stageit shows.) To be an audience member, you spend a minimum of $5 for notes (Stageit credit), & purchase your ticket. Most shows are under $5 or pay-what-you-can, & throughout the shows you can directly tip the performers. What a wonderful idea. I am a strong believer in supporting the arts (come see me in Fiddler on the Roof!), & Stageit makes it so simple, so grassroots, so easy to say "I appreciate your talent, & that you took time out of your life to share it with us. With me."
Glen Phillips is one of my favourite singer/songwriters & whether we're speaking of his work with Toad the Wet Sprocket, his solo work, or many of his side projects, I am a huge fan. The name of my blog comes from Glen's solo album Winter Pays For Summer, & more specifically, from the song "Duck & Cover".
I knew that Glen occasionally gave "couch concerts" on Stageit, but they have usually fallen on Sunday nights (EST), so I've never been able to catch one. This week, Glen held an "All-Toad" concert on a Tuesday, & I've never sat my kid in front of a TV so quickly. You want a Coke at 8:30pm? Will it keep you in the family room for 45 minutes? Well then, absolutely.
As I've written before, I fell in love with Toad the Wet Sprocket in high school, just missing a rare Toronto concert in the mid-90s. They broke up shortly afterwards, & my hopes of ever seeing them live were dashed. In 2011, it was a very, very happy coincidence that newly reunited Toad was playing at the House of Blues in Orlando while we would be there on vacation. It was one of the best concert experiences of my life - not only because their music brings me joy, but because I never thought I'd have the chance to attend a Toad show.
I had never been in a crowd where I didn't immediately hate everyone around me, but for Toad, everyone wanted to be there. No one was obnoxiously drunk, talking loudly or flailing rudely - everyone cared about Toad the Wet Sprocket that night. You know it's magical when the crowd is truly excited to hear a brand new song. In this video, you can see my red hair in the front centre, to the left of my tall husband. Just imagine a beaming smile on the other side of my head.
Thanks to Stageit, I kind of relived that happiness last night. I enjoyed a Sam Adams Summer Ale in Ontario while humming harmonies along with Glen Phillips - just a guy in his backyard with a guitar & a beer of his own. Beginning with "Crowing", it was like every song was chosen just for me, a feeling I'm sure every other attendee shared. "Walk On the Ocean" made me tear up a little bit, & "Windmills" had those tears pouring down my face. The deceptively simple-sounding beauty of this song just gets to me, always.
"Rings" & "Dam Would Break", 2 of my favourites from Coil, had me bouncing in my seat, & wishing I could play an instrument with such flawless ease. (If you've seen my previous attempts with instruments, you know why I'm now a singer, not an instrumentalist.)
The whole experience was much more than watching YouTube videos. Stageit has a running forum next to the streaming video for interaction with the artist & other ticket-holders. It was clear that many of these fans were not first-timers - it seemed like a very welcoming club. I had the screen full-sized most of the time, but Glen was reading along quite a bit, frequently losing his place in songs because of it. I don't think anyone has ever been so charming when fucking up.
Glen took requests, asked questions, & shared his frustration that he really likes a lime in his Trader Joe's Mexican beer, but you can't recycle the bottle when there's a lime in it. Adorable.
He even spoke of Bobak Ferdowski, everyone's new nerd crush, & asked everyone to make another ticket-holder (whom I believe worked at NASA as well, but wasn't feeling the same amount of love as Mohawk guy) feel just as sexy.
The result left me feeling as if I'd shared a moment with a great artist. Feeling like I was sitting cross-legged on a Santa Barbara lawn while a friend played a few feet in front of me. All from the other side of the continent, for $3. I will be back.
There are lots of other artists using Stageit - Sara Bareilles has a benefit concert coming up on Sept 10 that is pay-what-you-can - so I suggest you support some artists for the price of a latte. I'll leave you with Toad the Wet Sprocket playing Walk on The Ocean, just a few months ago.
It's all worth waiting for.