I’m still waking up from a dream. It’s been two weeks since, and I’m still waking up from a music-driven, Dan-Layus inhabited, whirlwind of a dream. That makes me sound more creepy than I intended...(I promise I’m not a stalker).
It’s been two weeks since Augustana was in Boston, and the lyrics are still floating in the air.
I hate to admit it but Augustana/Dan Layus (the lead singer) was one of the main reasons I even took note of Boston. I remember first hearing this song at a middle school dance. Streamers hung in the cafeteria, pasta and soda was served, and people were pumping their fists to “In Too Deep” by Sum 41 (Oh 90’s punk bands, where has all your teenage angst gone?). Then suddenly the pace slowed, and eyes wandered around to find that one person you wanted to slow-dance with (nostalgic isn’t it?). I hadn’t been much of a dancer, because I’ve romanticized it so. I was also an awfully awkward middle schooler, and have thus fully accepted that my first invitation to dance would be when I’ve grown out of my baby chubs and bangs.
But as the whimsical notes of “Boston” struck on the piano, my friend, standing next to me, looked at me and asked, “Will you dance with me?”
I looped my arms around his neck and his hands gently rested on my waist. Together we swayed under the discoball/lights as Augustana croned “you don’t know me, and you don’t wear my chains” (in retrospect, “Boston” was more of a romantic break-up serenade than a love song).
Dan Layus had my first dance. And so did that friend. We never fell in puppy love or anything but that song, that moment, had this place in my heart that lasts a lifetime.
When I heard that Augustana was coming to Boston, I literally squealed and leaped out of that Dewick chair, giggling and laughing all at once (for a brief moment, my friends thought I was possessed). They weren’t just going to be in Boston, but they were going to play an ACOUSTIC set, which meant two musicians, an intimate venue, and fans who truly adore the magic Dan Layus has created with words.
On January 15th, we lined up outside the venue under freezing Boston winds for 45 minutes before being let in, but it was all worth it. We stood right in the center, under the mic, right in front of the stage. So close, that I could reach out and touch Dan’s pedal, and see him face to face. Slowly the room filled but it was unlike any of the other concerts I’ve been to. There was no shoving or pushing, no drunkards or crack-heads, just people eagerly waiting for Augustana to take the stage.
I’m pretty sure I didn’t contain myself very well when they set foot on stage. I went into full on fan-girl mode and screamed to my hearts content. Every line, every song, every melody, I remember and could sing along to. But the most infectious part, was that this feeling of overwhelming happiness was not only felt by me, but by everyone in the room. Even Dan Layus himself. (Here is a video recorded of him singing “Sweet and Low”. Watch it if you love music and you’ll know what I mean).
Anyone who knows me, knows that lyrics paint worlds for me. Many people first notice the beat or the rhythm of a song, whether it’s melody is sits right. But for me, what makes a song is how the words fit perfectly into a moment. Sort of like a movie soundtrack, but one that is only by chance and can’t be manufactured because, well, it’s life. These moments don’t come very often, but when they do, they’re magical. They can bring you back to better or worst times, or simply times that you’re thankful for because they happened. Although it was just a keyboard and a guitar, Augustana brought me back to those days that I knew what love meant, what loss meant, what forgiveness meant, and what wanting to be better than myself for someone else meant.
He brought me back to a time that I had forgotten.
And well, when Dan got on that piano and started hitting those first couple of innocent notes from “Boston”, the room was silent except for him, and we all knew. We all knew we were remembering those times.
I was back with that boy in middle school, not knowing where to look, not knowing if I was following his lead or not. But he held me tighter and smiled, and I knew that he didn’t care. So I lost myself in that song and forgot where I was, and what was going on around me. All I did was let myself feel.
I let myself feel at this concert again, and for the first time, in a long time, I wasn’t scared of it.
After the final bow, I did something that I had never let myself be brave enough to do. I hoisted myself (very VERY awkwardly) onto the stage and grabbed the set list that was on the keyboard. Holding onto it, my friends and I waited outside the venue for another 50 minutes for the band to come out and to sign and take pictures. It was just us, and seven other fans. I had frostbites on my toes and had lost all feeling/warmth in my fingers and ears, but I traded them for a picture with Augustana and their autograph.
I’m still living in this dream that Dan Layus had lullabied me into. Even now, I can hear his voice in the back of my head, and (literally) all I listened to for days were the live recordings of that night. I don’t want to forget. And thankfully, he helps me remember.
So for anyone who has ever had music speak to them or speak for them. For anyone who has let music consume them, who live their life by a soundtrack. For anyone who just loves Augustana, and wish to join me to listen to them every single year for as long as I am here.
Here’s to you. Here’s to “Boston”