Someone's Plus One

My day began like all my days here in London have so far. I woke up fully rested without the weight of responsibility to pull me out of sleep prematurely. Still reeling from an unbelievable performance by Bon Iver the night prior, I showered, ate my Sultana Bran (that’s the Queen’s English for Raisin Bran), and picked up my guitar.

Despite Bon Iver’s powerful set, it was Okkervil River’s song “Plus Ones” that had taken my brain over this morning. I don’t much believe in superstition, but let’s call it a premonition.

I hammered my way through the song: D, G, Em, G, etc., singing loudly in a manner I only allow due to my isolation in a small basement flat in Pimlico.

After an especially lengthy jam session, I packed up my computer for my daily jaunt to the Victoria Station McDonald’s, the closest free wireless connection available. In the hour or so before my computer died, I needed to get my necessary email contact out of the way and make plans for the night’s activities.

I wanted to go to another show, and I had two options: to see Okkervil River with an opener I hadn’t heard of, or to see Bon Iver again, this time as the band supported Jens Lekman along with a female singer-songwriter from New York named Jaymay. Both shows were sold out, but I was confident I could get tickets.

I am a huge Okkervil fan, but ultimately I decided to try to get a ticket to see the other show. I’ve already seen Okkervil on this tour, and I was an established fan of all three of the acts in the Jaymay/Bon Iver/Jens Lekman show. The decision wasn’t too tough.

I showed up an hour early and immediately met Lauren Glucksman, the very friendly proprietor of, an indie music blog. Lauren had just interviewed Jaymay, and actually had two spots on the guest list to the show, but surrendered them to friends thinking she would be out of town. So it came to be that the two of us met, likewise stuck without tickets to a show for which no one was scalping. Hell, even the “touters” were looking to buy tickets to resell.

By an incredible stroke of luck, and due only to the fact that we were now a twosome, Lauren and I managed to get in at face value thanks to the kindness of a stranger with a heart. The show was incredible. Jaymay’s set was witty and cool, Bon Iver was almost as good as the night before, and Jens put on a brass-fueled, high energy spectacle comprised of only his best work.

The fun had just begun.

Having been separated from Lauren throughout the show due to the lethal combination of crowded floor and bathroom break, we reunited at the bar. The blogger and her two friends were discussing the upcoming afterparty for which they held all-access passes; I was predictably jealous. But in a gesture of good-looking-out-ness, Lauren immediately snagged Jaymay’s brother/manager and got me one as well.
Somewhat shamefully starstruck, I conversed at the merchandise table with Jaymay and a member of Jens band, identifiable by the uncut key strung around her neck. After the venue had cleared out, we followed the musicians upstairs to a private bar, where two excitable DJs blasted a fun set of sixties rock. Jaymay requested some Dylan, and by the time “Subterranean Homesick Blues” came on, we dominated the dance floor.

For as much fun as we were having, I was a bit disappointed that neither Jens nor Justin Vernon (lead singer-songwriter of Bon Iver) had arrived at the party. The other members of all the bands were interspersed throughout the room, all very sociable, but I really wanted to speak to Justin in particular. Bon Iver’s music can be strongly linked to my recent inseparability from my guitar, and if you haven’t checked out the band’s debut album For Emma, Forever Ago, I would highly recommend it.

When Justin walked into the room, the night immediately became one of the top ten best nights of my life. When Will Sheff and Travis Nelsen of Okkervil River followed in after him, top three.

After I had gathered my jaw up off the floor, I built the courage to talk to some of my heroes. As I look back on it, I recall that most of my conversation with Will and Justin was comprised of one-sided, embarrassing, tipsy, flattery. I really did my best to be cool, but in the face of these guys, really spectacular figures in recent folk/rock, it just wasn’t happening.

The night continued on, however, and I didn’t let my embarrassment get me down. Most of the night was spent partying with Jaymay, Lauren and friends of each. Drinking, dancing, and often sneaking glances at Bon Iver and Okkervil River to remind myself of the amazing situation into which I had fallen, I couldn’t have stopped smiling if I wanted to. At the very least, I formed some relationships that have made my time here in London more entertaining, and at the very most, I enjoyed a night that I will surely never forget.

Cheerio, chaps.

EDIT: Jaymay's performance of Grey or Blue can be watched below.



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