Total fan girl
Five years ago, JG and I heard Andy Osenga play solo at a Caedmon’s Call concert. We had never heard of him before he was a part of Caedmon’s Call, but we purchased all of his music soon after, and I subscribed to his blog.
Last year, when I finally got on the Twitter train, I followed Andy, and he talked a lot about this other dude, Nick Flora. Together, they had a combination act they jokingly called “Flosenga.” I filed this information away for future reference.
Then, in February, Nick celebrated the 1-year anniversary of his album, Hello Stranger, which Andy produced, by making it available as a free download on Noisetrade for a limited time. Andy retweeted the free album, and I remembered the whole Flosenga thing. I figured, “What the heck? Free music, right?” So I downloaded it.
The songs on Hello Stranger struck me as incredibly thoughtful, but all the while lighthearted and tongue-in-cheek, and there are so many dang lyrics that it takes a few listens to get the gist of the songs. I loved how the instrumentation is so diverse, and the emotional range is so wide. Nick baits you with a hook like “Presence of Greatness,” and reels you in with “Long Way Home,” which struck me immediately as my favorite.
A week after I downloaded the album, I tweeted at Nick, “I seriously can’t stop listening to Hello Stranger. Is it magic?!” Yep, total fan girl.
In early March, Nick put out a call on Twitter for house shows along the east coast, and I thought, “Hey, we have a house.” So I e-mailed him about how we live outside Philadelphia and would love to host a house show! I tried very, very hard not to sound like a psycho.
Twelve e-mails later — because I am a psycho who asks a zillion questions — we were booked! Hooray! Also, panic!
I hyped this event like crazy. I posted a different Nick Flora video on Facebook every week until the week before the show, when I switched to daily videos, and then I posted 2 on the show date. (Apologies to those of you who are friends with me on Facebook.) I also handed out neon green fliers to anyone within arm distance, and toward the end, I could rattle off the show details in one breath. I graduated from total fan girl to one-woman street team because I was terrified of having an empty living room. I would sooner have an uncomfortably packed house than a room full of awkwardness, so I went a little overboard with the PR. I also ran through several mental iterations of how to optimize seating in the living room and traffic flow throughout, plus possible baked good combinations and quantities (I settled on mini cupcakes and brownies, 3 dozen each). Let’s be real here: I only had a vague idea of what house shows were supposed to be like, but I wanted to be awesome at them, whatever that meant.
That’s how, on May 22, a Nashville musician I had never met played a concert for 25 people (!) in my living room. It still kind of blows my mind, mostly because it was so awesome. We rearranged all of our furniture, Nick set up a merchandise table, and I stood at the door to shake people down for their $5 admission fee, giving them change out of envelopes of cash I had withdrawn the day before. It was, like, a real show.
After some mixing in the kitchen, everyone settled into the dimly lit living room for the show. All of the seats were taken, and a few of us sat on the floor. It was so strange and wonderful to hear a musician play live, in my own house, when I had not even heard of him 4 months before. Nick was as great as I had hoped. Playing alone and live, without the benefit of a studio band, highlighted his mad guitar skills. He even seemed pleased when I attempted to squeak out the background vocals for a couple of songs. Afterward, one of our friends said that he liked how every song had a story, and it wasn’t just, “Boy meets girl, blah blah blah, pop music.” Ha. No, it wasn’t like that at all. Nick didn’t just perform; he told us stories.
I also loved hanging out with Nick, and we found out that he knows our friends, Jenny and Tyler! Everyone who wanted to meet Nick got the chance to do so, and that’s not guaranteed even at a small venue. It was such a cool opportunity to host the show, and I’m so glad we did it. So, if you have a chance to go to a house show for an independent musician, go! It might be weird at first, but it will probably be good, and it will definitely be unique.
In the meantime, check out Nick Flora!