The last time I tried to see Neko Case perform was in May 2006 at the Gorge Amphitheatre, not far from where I lived in Wenatchee, Wash. You see, my son's preschool co-op had a fundraising booth at the Gorge selling beer throughout the concert season. It proved a great way for children to take advantage of adult sin: The school usually took in about $20,000 before the school year started.
I volunteered the Saturday of the Sasquatch Festival with one mission in mind. I owed the co-op some volunteer time, but I was there to see Neko Case. I love her music. I LOVE HER!
In Washington state, May is an odd season. When we lived in Seattle, I remember looking out my office window downtown to see the weather go from rain, to hail, to bright sun, all within a half-hour.
You never learn. I wore shorts but brought a blanket. As soon as the band before Neko Case left the main stage, I clocked out of the beer booth and grabbed a spot right at the edge of the stage. I laid out my blanket and waited. A few clouds came in. Nothing to worry about. A little rain didn't scare me.
When Neko Case came out, I could see her nostrils. That's how close I was. I was a happy woman. The guy sitting next to me was happy, too. Nice people all around--just what you want when you're by yourself at a show. (By the way, the Gorge is best place to see live music. From its hills, you can look down at the Columbia River and also see the farms and orchards that surround the other hills.)
Neko Case started to strum, started to sing ... and the hail started to come down. I put my blanket over me. Neko kept going, thinking what we all hoped was true--that the hail would blow over. But it didn't. It came down, hard, fast and covered the ground in ice pellets that created a nice slip slide cavalcade the rest of the night. Neko gave up. We all gave up.
I did not want to return to the beer booth. I wanted my free concert. I wanted Neko Case.
The next few shows were canceled. People slipped around and turned over benches to create shelters. Some tried to break into the beer booth. Mostly people drank more beer and got super drunk. It was a wacky social experiment at best.
This Thursday, Neko Case and I are going to have a reunion at the Rialto. The show starts at 8 p.m. and is a benefit show for the organization No More Deaths. Check out Neko's cool Web site. Later on her tour, she is playing with Rufus Wainwright--I'd love to see that show. Tickets are still available for the Thursday show at $20 general admission.
Yes, I will be there early, at the edge of the stage trying to recreate that day at the Gorge--sans hail.