December 5, 2011

Florence + The Machine: The Chicago Theatre

Tonight was a game changer. A huge game changer. If I've ever started any entry with "tonight has been a life-changing moment", erase that from your memory, and let's start fresh here. I'm pretty sure greatness happened on the night of December Fourth. We can thank a marvelous team of people; FLORENCE + THE MACHINE, Laura Marling, LIN BREHMER, my mother, Brooke, WXRT, The Chicago Theatre, Greek Islands, and State & Lake. However, this is the whole. Let's focus in.

...and by "focus in" I mean let's go back a week when I first sparked the idea of sending Miss Florence Welch and her fabulous band a cookie bouquet. After all, we had just expanded our delivery zone to Chicago after merging shoppes and I KNEW I had to do something to show my appreciation in one of the best ways I knew how. I wasn't sure if I could make this happen. Sending edibles is such a risk these days, which is unfortunate when there is no harm in them. I didn't care, I just wanted her to admire the hell out of them. Would she even get them? I just imagined coat check workers eating them. So I conjured up some ideas. I knew these had to be ultra personal and really meaningful. It was so much more of a challenge then I thought because for the most part it was all stuff I had never decorated before. I loved that and just the thought of her even catching a glimpse of them made it that much more enjoyable to do. I am so lucky I had the opportunity to do this. Here is how they turned out;

"Shake It Out"
This is obviously a huge song off the album and it is one of the ones that holds the most meaning.
This show was something I felt that would help me let go of a lot,
hence the phrase I chose to put on the cookie.
This song just has such a catharsis effect on my body.
The sky is glazed to show that "It's always darkest before the dawn"
Yes, the girl is supposed to be me...shaking it out.

My favourite one, to show her "Ceremonials"
I was the most excited when I came up with this idea.
I glazed the sky "pink and gold and glittering"
I knew that I had to do something to represent "Only If For A Night"
(which I KNEW would be the perfect opening song for this tour-YES!)
"...My own secret ceremonials before the service began
In the graveyard, doing handstands"
I hope this was her favourite too.

'Cosmic Love'-obviously.
I had to do something to represent this song.
It means so much to me & it was the song I lost it to last time I saw her-yeah, big time tears in Milwaukee for this chick. Anywho, I would have LOVED to have decorated her sitting on the moon like in her promo, but let's be honest, I have another year of decorating in me for that, but seriously, things like that are in my grasp. MAYBE NEXT TOUR!

Wow. The Game Changer cookie.
You will find out later why this was indeed the GC cookie.
I thought this would be a great little touch on the name cookie for her to represent 'Spectrum'
"Say my name, and every colour illuminates, we are shining..."
This is my favourite song, on par with 'Shake It Out'
It was vital I included this song with her name.

The bouquet in full.

I had to include/single out Tom and Isabella because they are such a vital sound. I tried to snag some pictures off the screen when they played Saturday Night Live and recreate his harp. For Isabella, I wanted to do a piano/keyboard mix. I know her birthday is on Halloween and wanted to include something a little personal for her as well. I wish I had more time with these. I could have spent ALL DAY making them more intricate.  I was in love with the 'New Jack Thanksgiving' sketch that was on Saturday Night Live and had to include something humorous in that bouquet to make her laugh. Flo Diggity Flo Doubt was her character name in the sketch. Check it out HERE.

So I decorated them, had them delivered to The Chicago Theatre on Saturday, hoping that Straight No Chaser had no intentions of scarfing them down, and just hoped for the best.

When Sunday rolled around I could not have been more excited.
This was like the prom all over again, kids, but WAY WAY better because I was actually excited for this.

pre-show snapshot.

I caught a good dinner with my mom at Greek Islands West and headed out to The Chicago Theatre. We had plenty of time to spare, so we had a couple of drinks and met up with my friend Brooke next door at State & Lake within The Wit hotel. The Tanqueray + tonic's had me feeling perfect before we headed in around 7:15. My mom (who I turned into an avid Flo fan, that's right) and I had row 13, two seats in from the aisle. Brooke was on the main floor, but separate from us. Just before we had sat down, we had asked a house manager to find out if Florence had received my bouquet. He told me to meet him back after Laura Marling and he would find out and let me know. This was invigorating. Now I was going to actually be able to find out if she got it and put it to rest.

I was revved when Lin Brehmer appeared on stage to introduce Laura Marling.
Yes, I was standing up. Screaming.
WXRT is a big deal, people.

Laura came on around 7:45 and played an adorable 8 song set, I believe. She was so cute and I'm glad that I got to hear her. She has a great voice, reminiscent of Joni Mitchell/young Chrissie Hynde.

So after Laura Marling had finished her set, I had headed back out and I ran into the House Manager. He informed me that Florence did indeed get my bouquet. Cue to me bursting into tears and unable to hold my composure. She got it. That was all that mattered. I could not be happier. I just hope she loved it. So we all regrouped to go out into grab a quick cigarette in between my crying fits.

We took our seats and the curtains parted and Lin Brehmer appeared once again to introduce Florence.
This was like the British Invasion all over again.
I loved the backdrop and the set for her show, it was beautiful.
My mom and I had debated ALL DAY over what song she was going to open with.
My mom was convinced it would be "Howl"
I said that opening with "Only If For A Night" would be perfect because it sets off and explains Ceremonials.
When she did, I could not believe it! She played a great line-up, really high energy and rather mind blowing.

*If you see Florence + The Machine and at some moment "Mind Blowing" doesn't come into your head to describe what you are hearing or seeing, see a doctor immediately!*

I was a little confined in my row, so I was sure to make my way into the aisle because dancing to Florence is extremely vital. I was shocked by the number of people SITTING DOWN during her performance, but I was almost grateful for it because it gave me such a marvelous view.

This was during 'Cosmic Love', which I DID NOT record but is absolutely amazing.
THIS was when I was like "Excuse me girls, I need to get into the aisle for this one!"
It was so important it did. Now that I hear it again, I cannot believe I lived it. It was a cloud 9 experience.
I'm sorry, more like a cloud 9,000 experience.

I was so excited that we got to hear "All This & Heaven Too" live for the first time. T'was perfect.
I hope Isabella saw me give her the thumbs up afterward!
I am so glad because I saw Florence + The Machine the last show of her tour in the states and this (I believe) was the first show of this tour. I cannot complain with how that worked out.
I continued aisle dancing and she had made an announcement that she had gone through all of the gifts that she had received from the past Chicago shows, and how they had kept them and had just come across them. I thought this was my acknowledgement and thought that was great she kept all of her gifts. I was just wondering if my card was among that pile.

So during the course of the show I had sort of made good with the people around me and had met this awesome Florence fan who was quite the fellow. He had wished me "Happy Florence Day" when we first started chatting. I knew he was a 1/32 of a soulmate. During the course of the show he had ran down to the front of the stage. He had a flower that he has successfully passed off to Flo who then whipped it around as if conducting spells as she sang. I had gotten there just seconds before she had come and gone. I had ran back to my mom to tell her I was up front enjoying the amazing-ness that was inches away from the stage and then told her how I would be heading back to the stage front. I could not believe it. Here I was again, front row for Flo. I thought I had missed my chance to touch her flesh and was a tad disappointed, but knew I should be happy I was that close.

So at this point, the concert is nearing its end and she still had not played 'Spectrum'
There was a break and all of a sudden she started talking about a cookie basket she had received!
She had asked someone to fetch her the basket I had sent her.
Here she was, the amazing Miss Florence Welch, holding the cookie bouquet I made.
I picked out that basket, tissued it, designed it, sent it...I could just die.


I was in shock, but was smart enough to put my 5'2 little self on a chair [I'm not on a chariot either! ;)]
She began explaining what some of them were because of the personal touch on them. She picked up the one with her name on it, her star, and held it up and explained how it said her name on it, so we knew what song was coming next. Florence then put the bouquet on the drum set stand as if it were for display. She asked who did it and I raised my hand and said "ME! ME! ME!" which then led her to look at me and say "You did this?"
I'm sorry, did I start LEVITATING HERE?!
She asked me my name, and "Tessa" came from my mouth, SANS TEARS! I was not crying like an infant!
I believe my named escaped her lips in acknowledgement.
She grabbed my hand. MY HAND. AND THEN...
She pulled me in for a hug. PULLED ME IN FOR A HUG.
I am so glad the bouquet meant something to her because it meant something to me too.
It was an absolutely surreal experience. I regret not remembering what her amazing dress felt like.
I regret not remembering every single ounce of that moment and feeling. You just can't when something like this happens. I am so grateful for that moment.

Another photo snagged by Rachael
Holding up her star cookie with her name on it explaining that 'Spectrum' would be next'

EDIT: (Jan. 28)

I went snooping and found this on youtube! YES! Thank you so much!

This is the shot of the basket on the drum stand!

It was the least I could do. I just..I cannot believe it.
I stayed on that chair the rest of that concert. I needed to. It was my Flo platform.
By the time this had happened, Brooke and my mom were able to join me by the stage. 

After the show had wrapped up, [did it really HAVE to?], I called out to Tom, the wonderful harpist who makes tears possible on 'Spectrum', and asked for his setlist. See how it's ripped? I saw that man's struggle. Stage tape is a bitch.
I love it even more that it's ripped. This makes it look more real, more 'Rock 'N Roll', eh?

I spent the rest of the night getting into excitement/cry fits, resisting changing anything about my appearance, and looking at pictures from the evening try to confirm if it did all happen.

I am dying to get my hands on a video/clip/picture of this whole thing.
Unfortunately, the people I was with didn't capture this. If you did, send it my way!
A picture of that hug, or her holding that bouquet would make my life!

All in all, this was an AMAZING night. I probably have stressed that word in this post, but it's the pure truth.


 Lin Brehmer 

Florence just showed the crowd her cookies.

 Lin Brehmer 

Actual cookies

 Tom Moth 


 Tom Moth 


Thank you to everyone who made it an amazing night!
Read WXRT's review HERE