The drive into Denver was brutal. There is one major highway in Kansas and it cuts right across the state. It felt as if I could have not touched the steering wheel and I would have gotten into Colorado easily…the highway was straight as straight could be. Something sort of wild and beautiful about it, but not at night and not after a long show. Might have not been the best decision to leave Lawrence late at night for 9 hour drive, but I felt a need to keep moving, so perhaps it’s unfair to blame the “brutality” of the drive on anything else but my poor decision making. That being said, I did stop at a rest area and slept in the car for a few hours, and got to see the sun come up outside the Colorado border as a result. It was the first sunrise I’ve seen on tour and was well worth it. Even more welcomed were the hills I was starting to see as I approached Colorado (no offense to the flatness of Kansas).
The sun was still pretty low in the sky when the Rockies came into view. It was awesome. Simply awesome. Apparently my body was craving mountains because when those things came into view I was hit with a feeling of comfort, like something had been missing and now was there. They were beautiful. Snow capped, massive, and strong markers of a changing landscape. The sky was blue as I pulled into Denver, and people were starting to come out for their Saturday coffee and such. I was struck with how clean and organized Denver felt. Off the highway I pulled right in front of Union Station, the gorgeous historic train station of the City, immediately showcasing the history of the city. Everything seemed to jump off this station. The architecture, the layout of the city, the colors and textures, the movement of the people. It felt like everything was at the doorsteps of this magnificent gateway to the future and past, and it was all anchored by this beautiful refurbished building. I was completely sleep deprived and had no sense of time, but the sun beating down on my face and the cobble stones below my feet felt really good as I walked around.
I’m a sports fan, and I love seeing stadiums in different cities. I haven’t been going out of my way on this tour to do this, but when I happen to pass a stadium that I’ve seen on TV (from years of watching games) I get way too excited and usually blurt out, to myself, “oh look it’s where so and so plays”. I sort of secretly love it. Anyway, as I was walking down the street from Union Station I stumbled right into Coors Field, which is where the Rockies play baseball. I blurted out “oh shit, that’s where the rockies play. It’s right downtown, smack in the center of the city”. I always forget there is nobody with me so conversations are one sided, doesn’t matter though. The stadium was beautiful and I thought to myself “I’d love to have a sausage, beer, and watch a game right now”. Luckily for the Meter Tour the season was over. The reason I bring up the stadium experience, aside from for my own enjoyment, is that the way this massive complex cleanly and simply sat in the city was very representative of how I would experience Denver. The city felt organized, but not contrived. It felt wide and open, but not empty. And it was green and active. The way old, new, small and large were all jammed together didn’t feel unnatural, but rather flowed. It also felt like a great walking city. Yes not as intimate as the winding small streets of old east coast historic districts, but still inviting with a calm energy. People were friendly, focused, yet aware of each other. It had a good vibe. I also was struck by the amount of bikes, kayaks, and spandex I saw . Perhaps it was due to it being a Saturday, but I think it had more to do with it being a Saturday by the Rocky Mountains. I felt completely out of place without a mountain bike strapped to my truck and a pair of running shoes hanging from my shoulders. It was hilarious. I dug it though.
I was stuck in no-mans land because it was too early to sleep the day away, but also I was way too tired to play that day. I decided I would take this Saturday off to recover a bit, find a place to stay, and force myself to stay awake until the early evening so I could comfortably sleep through the night. I drove around the city some more, ate some delicious ceviche, had a corona, and did a lot of walking. I was tired to be sure, but the day was beautiful and the walking became quite enjoyable. I scoped out a few places to play, as well as checked spots that were suggested to me. Stumbled into a few beautiful parks and walkways, one of which had a couple kayakers practicing on the small rapids and kids wading in the calm water down below. It was great. My only complaint of Denver as I walked around was that it felt pretty segregated. The diversity wasn’t apparent in the city or neighborhoods as much as I knew there to be. As you got further away from the center and on the outskirts that faces started to change, which is classic of course in these large cities…but still disappointing. That being said, Denver was one of the first cities on this Tour where I could see myself possibly living….though I still need that ocean, beautiful mountains and all. I did a good job of working down the hours of the day, and as the early evening approached I was more than ready to sleep in a bed and recover.
The following morning, Sunday, I went down to the last area that was suggested to me by my friend Lindsay (who by the way, seems to not only know all the good spots around the country to play, but also where to eat. haha she's so funny). The section was called “Larimer Square”. It’s just one block near the University, with Cafe’s, shops, boutiques, restaurants. I got there early, parked the truck and got some coffee. At first glance the street seemed perfect. Though it felt a little too posh, it was somewhat anchored by a great market/cafe that had a strong progressive and open feel. Without this Cafe I think the street would be somewhat typical. Though I wasn’t convinced, I stayed in the area for a few hours catching up on work, walking around, and feeling out the flow. As “showtime” approached, I continued to be on the fence about what to do. Boulder had always been a possibility, and was only 30 minuets to the north of Denver. I sat on a bench directly in front of the truck and agonized (relatively speaking) over what to do. I always remind myself in times like these that no matter what I decide it will be an experience. There is no way to control the success or lack there of when it comes to a Meter Tour show. That is part of the mystery and adventure, might be great, might suck…but it won’t be “nothing”. I didn’t want to drive 30 minuets and being my search all over, so Larimer Sq was the spot. I got some mint tea (this mint tea routine is becoming what amounts to a superstition I think), setup the truck and started playing.
No matter how many shows I play, I always get paranoid and nervous that I am bothering people. I am very sensitive to not wanting to shove the music down anyone’s throat, especially in a public space. I am hyper aware of people sitting outside, at cafes or restaurants, and look to find a balance between not bothering them but also making a statement that public space can be used for multiple uses. It also drives me crazy when people get annoyed with performers because of “noise”, when all that surrounds and inhabits a city is noise. Ok….So to be clear, this hasn’t happened to me yet. No public citizen has come up to me and said “you are bothering me, can you please stop”. But I’m still paranoid, though I guess I should work on that. As all of this bounced around my head I noticed a guy drinking coffee at a cafe a little off to my right. Was he annoyed with the music? Why did he keep looking up at me but not clapping or smiling when I finished a song? Do I really need constant acknoledgment? haha. After about 45 min of playing he packed his things and approached me. I held my breath, smiled as he got close to the truck and said “hey”. He thanked me for the music and said he full enjoyed hearing what he could while working, and wished me best of luck. It felt really good. I’m not a needy person, I don’t think, but when that sort of things happens I realize how much I needed it. It fed me energy to keep going…this show and the tour in general.
I played a little more then 4 hours. The afternoon became evening, lights that were hanging across the street like a web lit up, and the weather stayed beautiful. The vibe on the street was great. A few small children danced to a couple songs (a MT first), multiple people stopped to express their opinions and thanks, nothing but smiles from everyone, and even though a security guard on the street told me that I couldn’t have a tip jar out (due to the Squares law), he couldn’t do anything about me playing since I wasn’t physically on the street. (It’s great when the MT concept proves it’s logic). And even without a tip jar out for the entire show (I put it back out once the security guy left), I did good on tips. Good day. I decided to not make the same mistake twice, and rather then drive to Wyoming that night…I finished played, got some delicious sushi, a local beer, and stayed one more night in Denver. It was too chill and relaxing to rush out. The next morning I got coffee at the same place and I saw the owner of the funky shoe store I had played in front of. He stopped and asked “heading off to Wyoming today?”. I laughed and said “in a couple minutes". I was a local down in Larimer Square, temporarily.