Post Summerfest

Summerfest was a great eye opener for a music junkie like myself. In many ways it reminded me of the annual Kuching Festival back home where tons of people would gather at one big open space to enjoy free shows and willingly overspend on food sold by cutthroat vendors, c’mon – $3.00 for a bottled drink and $5.00 for corn dogs?! That’s madness. But it’s worth every penny to be able to witness the world’s largest music festival and be up close with some of the nation’s biggest performers.

I managed to catch two big acts from two very distinct genres in one day – Jason Mraz and Maroon 5, and I was utterly satisfied by the end of the day despite feeling worked up and exhausted. My favorite gig of the day belongs to Jason Mraz because he and I go way back except he doesn’t have a clue about it but hopefully someday I’ll be able to tell him personally how big of an inspiration and influence he is to me on my road in becoming a self sustaining recording artist. Jason Mraz is a multitalented artist – he sings, plays the guitar, writes his own songs, he is also a humanitarian and vegan and pledged not to get married until gay marriage is finally legalized. There’s absolutely nothing to hate about this guy except that he is perfect.

I’ve always loved Jason Mraz’s style of music, it’s a good mix of pop, reggae, jazz, bossa nova and folk. I remember when I first started performing for large group of audience, I almost always have the tendency to perform his songs because they are such crowd pleasers. Two of his biggest hits, ‘I’m Yours’ and ‘Lucky’ was my staple performance and I hope I did those rendition justice in the past. I’ve sang those song many times over and never got sick of it, in fact, it’s a huge confidence booster for me when it comes to performing because I know those songs so well and I guess they worked well with my vocal characteristics.

Now a bit more about the concert and less about myself.

Yes it was one of the hottest Summers the Midwest has ever had but that didn’t lower anybody’s spirit when it comes to good ol’ music appreciation. The amphitheater was filled to the brim! Everyone waited patiently for Jason’s arrival after Boston’s three piece band Guster opened for him..it was a long wait and after a good half an hour he finally showed up donned in a simple white shirt, faded jeans and his signature fedora – he’s probably the only guy who can sport a fedora without looking like a douche bag. Agreed?

Sadly according to most concert protocol (I’m still wondering why not), I couldn’t just take photos of performances with my D5000 as I please, I had to sneak around and this photo above is as close as I could get. In fact it was cropped from a bigger photo hence the noise level but it’s better than nothing!

The crowd went insane, myself included, as he picked up his guitar and started talking – boy, his voice was drop dead sexy. I was ready to take a guess at the first song he’s singing but instead of jumping straight into his first performance, he got creative and engaged with the audience by teaching us some simple dance moves, which I thought was really awesome.

As you can probably tell, his stage presence is extremely warm, welcoming and interactive. We sure had a lot of fun dancing to his opening song ‘The Dynamo Of Volition’ from his album ‘We Sing, We Dance, We Steal Things’. I was immediately absorbed into his tender yet powerful vocal once he started singing and playing on his signature nylon-string guitar. His versatility in music has set us for different moods, for instance, ‘Details In The Fabric’ can be so soothing, while a reggae-fied ‘Remedy’ gets everyone’s on their feet dancing to his beat. Last but not least he ended the concert with his chart-topping song ‘I’m Yours’ and resulted in a standing ovation that was at least 15 minutes long. He is an awesome live performer but not without the aid from his impeccable band ensemble and it’s humbling to see Jason Mraz giving credit to everyone on his band and those working behind the scenes at the very end of the concert. By the end of it all I felt absolutely renewed, this is the reason why I believe in the power of music – it brings happiness to people who listen to them, and more importantly, it brings people together.

‘…when you clap your hands, it’s like giving yourself high fives, you deserve it for getting to where you are today and you should be proud of yourselves…’, I quote Jason Mraz non-verbatim.

It’s true that we don’t give ourselves enough credit sometimes. In my honest opinion, everyone is doing a great job with their lives so don’t let anyone or anything bring you down! Give yourself a high five now 🙂

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