Last Friday (Night):
Ohhh Mr. Legend.
What can I say to you other than: Hello. Welcome. Your voice is like honey. Let’s please you sing to me? Again? Soon?
John Legend made an appearance in our very own Graham Chapel as part of the Association of Black Students‘ annual MLK Symposium Week, in memoriam of Martin Luther King Jr.’s death on this first week of April forty-four years ago. This year’s theme was education, and the über-philanthropic (who knew he was so involved?
who knew he could be more perfect?) Mr. Legend came to speak at the week’s end last Friday, echoing President Obama in a speech that affirmed the controversy over our nation’s educational system as the civil rights issue of our time. A speech, Q&A session, and two scholarships later (two lucky high school seniors were invited to the show receive a prize they had won from an organization started by WashU students to provide neighboring St. Louisan students with funds for college textbooks, the cost of which–take heed, prospective students–adds up surprisingly quickly), we were all ready to hear what we had come for: the dulcet tones of one of America’s most successful R&B recording artists.
Speech delivered and scholarships presented, Legend strolled toward the piano and effortlessly threw himself into an acoustic rendition of “If You’re Out There”, a song about the social change that we all had gathered to discuss that day. Then came the crowd-pleasers: Save Room(!), Green Light(!!), Ordinary People(!!!), and one of his newest songs: Tonight(!!!!). It was unreal. As the show progressed, I grew more and more delusional. I kept thinking to myself, am I really here?!!, in this gorgeous room, with all my friends, listening to this insane compilation of John Legend’s best hits….
(Yeah, ’cause I guess I forgot to mention that this whole show was, indeed, free for students).
It was incredible. John Legend would sing the hook, and the audience would join in, harmonizing to fill in the chorus missing from the song’s background. Save room for my love, he’d croon, and we’d cover the rest, our voices reverberating from the columns of the chapel to complete the melody. Do you hear that, John? We complete each other! It’s so magical! And he agreed: you sound so beautiful is what he told us. All of you sound so beautiful tonight.
Following an unsuccessful attempt to intercept John Legend after the show, my friends Ula and Ana Paula and I headed back to Bear’s Den for some Friday night mac n cheese from the comfort food station, which is, simply put, scrumptious. We may have even gone back for seconds, it was that good….perfectly crusted on the surface and gooey on the inside, the mac n cheese is not to be missed by any student attending this fine university.
It was during this late-night snack session/feast that I made one of the best last-minute impulse decisions that I’ve made in a while. It turned out that a band from my friend’s hometown was going to be in St. Louis that night playing a show, and though I felt pretty exhausted from the day’s activities, going to two shows back-to-back just seemed like the right thing to do at the time.
And it was the right thing to do, because the show was one of the best that I’ve been to in a while.
We jumped in a taxi and headed for Firebird. The Pageant on the loop is pretty well known as a concert venue frequented by WashU students, but Firebird is a lesser-known (up and coming!) place downtown that features mostly independent artists and local musicians trying to make it big in St. Louis. That night, they were featuring Reptar, an afro beat-disco house band whose self-stated mission is to “make people dance” and their opening act, Quiet Hooves, a band that basically defies all labels (and for that reason exactly was a total blast), hailing from the city of ATL. This rad group of dudes held down the fort that night with free t-shirts, crazy energy, and a room full of twenty-somethings dancing like maniacs.
The best part though, as always, was that the show was free. This time, though, it wasn’t sponsored by the university but by the charitable foundation of my friend Ula and her hometown connections. Like she actually knew these people. So we got on their list, got in for free, and after the show, just kicked back with the band for a couple of hours. Super chill and super legit.
So I guess it wasn’t WashU that got us in this time, but it was one of the awesome people I’ve met at WashU that led us to same end…so it’s basically the same thing. Moral of the story: WashU, and all its inhabitants, rock.
The other thing I was surprised to discover that night as we talked to the bands was that all of them were pretty interested in what we were studying in at WashU, and that they themselves went through a few grueling years of college before they formed as a group. I figured that these guys had gone straight into music-making out of high school, that they didn’t have the need or the desire for higher education, and that our talk about majors and minors and papers was just serving as conversation-filler or something before we got into real conversation about…guitar shapes and wild parties(?), or something along those lines. But I couldn’t have been more wrong. It was nice to hear from a real artiste that a well-rounded education is important to your upbringing as a human being, and that college is the perfect place to find the people you need to support your artistic endeavors…for a student in the art school, it was reassuring conversation. Second moral of the story: stay in school, kids. It’s good for you.
Free t-shirt from Quiet Hooves!
These are, in case you haven’t noticed, my only photos from this adventure. That’s because I only had the chance to take them when I got back to my room…seeing as I made the silly decision to not take my camera with me anywhere last Friday. Ah well. If I’ve learned anything since I’ve gotten one, it’s that the best days are unfortunately always the ones when you don’t have your camera handy.
So there you have it, my friends. All of the above happened, sans photographs, though my weekend had only just begun. And it was only going to get better from there…