Every single detail? That’s what I would want if I was reading about someone’s Hozier concert experience. However, that’s just me and maybe not everyone wants every…little…detail. I suppose I will tell the story to the best of my recollection, with every little detail, and hopefully not bore everyone. I will start with the pre-concert prep.
What to wear? I was a bit nervous about dress code as this was a benefit concert. I am not the type to dress too fancy. If I’m not mistaken, the last time I wore a dress (and maybe the only time I willingly wore a dress) was at my wedding 15 years ago. I felt a little squeeze in my throat when I read Karel’s message informing me that some people were wearing evening gowns to this thing. I had decided to go with black slacks. Can I go wrong with black slacks? I also decided that I would buy a super cool, super hip leather jacket. Rock n’ Roll coupled with black slack class. That’ll work, right? This also would allow me to wear the uniform (the black and plaid checker shirt that has been begging to go to a Hozier gig). If I wore it under the jacket, it wouldn’t be too “loud” at this classy affair. Right? All of this thought went into the wardrobe, and then I found out that dress code was “jeans encouraged”. Thank God! Jeans it is!! I still was excited to wear the new jacket I bought as well as the uniform.
As it turns out, I left my brand new, super cool, rock ‘n roll jacket hanging on the back of one of my dining room chairs. Yup…that’s about right. Oh well, no going back, I’m already at the airport. Time to start Periscoping to everyone! This made me both nervous and feel stupid as I was walking through the airport talking to my phone. I had not used Periscope before and it was all live, so whatever stupid mistakes I make using it is going to be on the internet with no recourse for erasing the mistake from history. Surprisingly, the first broadcast went smoothly as soon as I could figure out how to flip the camera around. Click here to watch the Periscope videos.
The plane landed and I hopped into a cab to get to my hotel room. There were a few things that I noticed right away about San Francisco (I had never been). It was way greener than Arizona. Sometimes when I travel to other states my eyes go into shock seeing so much green. Big pine trees and brush lined the interstate. The airport seemed to be on the outskirts of town and as we got closer to the big city I started to notice the interesting architecture and the antiquity of the city.
I walked up to the hotel front desk to be greeted by a very nice gentleman who asked me why I was in town. He had no idea who Hozier was. I’m shocked at how often I get the same response. “Who’s Hose-er?”. “He sings Take Me to Church”, I respond. “Oh, I think I know that one.” Sheesh! People are weird! 😉
I was “on a mission from God”. I had a Blues Brothers photoshopped picture of Andrew dressed as a Blues Brother printed on glass that I wanted to give him as well as another one for him to sign for me. I didn’t waste much time. It was only about 1:30pm (doors open at 6), but I was prepared to wait it out. After all, missions from God are serious business (Blues Brothers reference). I put my belongings into the room and started out for the venue. It as only 4 or 5 blocks away from the hotel, so I just walked. When I arrived I felt a pang of excitement as I saw the Marquee. “Benefit for Bread and Roses presents: Hozier”. Holy guacamole! It was getting real. This is so frickin’ cool!
After only about 15-20 minutes of waiting (which included someone trying to sell me a watch and other people shouting inaudible words and profanities) a black, coach-style bus pulled up. Wow…that could be him. “Ok get your act together”, I thought. I pulled the Blues Brothers picture out of my bag so he wouldn’t be waiting on me to dig it out and started the Periscope. I had prepared what I was going to say to him. First I would have to get his attention. It would be a shame for him to just walk by as I stood there with my jaw on the ground! I was going to say, “I have a gift for you”. Perfect. I don’t know anyone who would not stop for a gift! Then once he has stopped I could ask him if he’d like to say anything to the H 24/7 fan club and to say hi to Beth. I knew that would make her day…maybe even her year. Then I would see if he would be generous enough to sign my picture. Like most things in life, it didn’t quite go as planned.
He took me by surprise when he pulled up behind the bus in a black SUV (I expected him to come out of the bus). It…was…surreal. It felt like I was watching another YouTube video of some fan encounter. This time I was the fan. Yes….very surreal. I was the only fan there, but there were important people for the event awaiting his arrival. I knew I had to jump in before he gets tied down with them or walks into the venue. He started walking towards me (well lets be real, he was walking towards the door. I was just blocking it). Just as planned, my practiced lines spewed out of my mouth. “Andrew, I have a gift for you.” Yes! The planning paid off. It worked and he stopped. The rest of the interaction, however, was pure instinct. I don’t recall my thoughts or feelings or why I did what I did. All I can do is watch the video to see what happened.
After I ended the Periscope session I texted Karel. She needed to get down here! I texted her and she replied with an “OMG” and was asking for fashion advice. Ok Karel. I love you girl, but first of all, if you are asking me for fashion advice, you really don’t know me. But secondly, just get over here!!!
After texting Karel and commenting on Facebook that I think I just crapped myself, I heard what sounded like an Angel from heaven seeping out from the doors of the venue. Ok this is serious…who do I text? Why isn’t everyone here? Oooo that sounds lovely. How do I get them here? To Be Alone! OMG! Ok calm down and think. I decided to text Clarice because she organized a meeting at 4. I thought maybe at the very least she could spread the word and get people to the venue. After I texted her I decided to turn on Periscope so everyone else could hear what I was hearing. I’ll spare you the rest of the sound check details as most of it is on the Periscope video.
Karel, Maryanne, a very sweet woman named Anne Marie (not from the group) and I waited outside the doors hoping Andrew would come out. Apparently, he did, though I have no recollection of him coming out, or who nabbed him. All I remember is Karel getting a selfie with him and Maryanne getting an autograph and chatting with him. Somehow I decided to take video. No clue why I didn’t turn on Pericope. My brain was officially off. I was so tempted to get a selfie with him as well and get him to sign my photo, but I felt he was in a hurry and didn’t want to further bother him. I don’t know why I felt that way. Looking back at the video with his interaction with Maryanne, he looked very laid back and patient. But like I said…brain was off.
We waited a little longer and Clarice, a woman named Rita and her husband showed up. We thought it was likely Andrew wouldn’t be back to the venue until the doors open, so we decided to take a load off and get something to eat and something cold to drink. I hadn’t eaten at all that day and had been standing a long time and was super thirsty. Thus begins our wild goose chase. How hard is it to find a bar in downtown San Fransisco you ask? Harder than one may think! Side note: If you are still reading this, I applaud your perseverance.
One of the funnier moments of the evening was going through “skid row”. We were trying to find a nice establishment to eat and drink (but we’d settle for just drink at this point) and we went through a really, really shady part of town. Some examples of things we saw in San Fransisco: I saw a syringe on the ground, a tent on the sidewalk, people whistling and speaking nonsense and Karel saw someone…well let’s just say doing something very inappropriate in the alley. We walked by people lined up on the sidewalk as Clarice said loudly enough for everyone on that sidewalk to hear, “This is shady guys! Let’s get out of here!” Karel and I just put our heads down and pushed forward. Leave now, laugh later.
We finally found a decent place and after some cold drinks we headed back to the venue to prepare for ingress. When we got there we found other H 24/7 members. Megan and Lisa Noble, Amy Mcgraw-pate, Maryanne’s daughter Bree, Janet Miller, and I later found out that Raquel Antoinette was there, but unfortunately we never connected. I found out from those that were there waiting that Andrew had already walked back in, but apparently he just walked straight in without stopping. This made me feel good about our decision to go for drinks as we didn’t miss any Andrew interaction. Here is a picture of Andrew walking back into the venue.
Time to walk in! We went through the doors and found out that our seating was up in the balcony. This came as a surprise as we had bought VIP tickets. I thought we would be at a table on the floor. Although this originally came as a disappointment, after thinking about it for a while I actually liked the idea of being up there. It would be a good vantage point and I don’t have to worry about holding my phone above my head to record the concert.
When we arrived we were told to not go up to the balcony yet because Andrew was doing a meet and greet up there. Thoughts about how to pose as an employee crossed my mind. I would totally be willing to serve drinks to Andrew. Maybe I will walk upstairs and act like I’m turned around. If I get caught I could act so innocent and confused. “Oh I’m sorry! I was told my seats are up here!” *bats eyelashes* Karel shared similar schemes and ideas with me that may have worked to get us up there, but nah…too many people guarding the stairs. We may as well hit the bar!
We ordered some drinks and of course my eyes focused every once in a while on the balcony where Andrew was. He’s so tall that I knew as soon as he stood up he would stick out like a sore thumb and after a few minutes he did stand up…and he did stick out like a sore thumb. This is weird. He’s right upstairs….and…I…am…excited!!!
The VIP meet and greet with Lukas Nelson and HoneyHoney was fun. I met a lot of cool people and had fun trying to find the brie and pear puff pastry guy for Karel (I think she liked those more than she likes Andrew). I told her that if I talk to Andrew with pastry crumbs all over my shirt that she would be to blame. She seemed ok with that.
We talked with Lukas Nelson and he complimented me on my shirt (thankfully crumbless), likely because he was wearing a very similar one. The thought crossed my mind, that if I had to guess who would make a comment on the uniform it wouldn’t have been Lukas Nelson. Apparently, Lukas totally messed with Karel and told her that he was with HoneyHoney. Karel, being the sweet person that she is, didn’t correct him, but knew he was full of it.
Somehow Karel found out that the meet and greet upstairs with Andrew was over. Of course Karel and I made a b-line for the corner where the meet and greet was, but the great Sasquatch wasn’t to be found. There was a back door up there that we thought we would try and get through (that would have been his only means of escape) but there was a sign that said, “Employees only behind this point” with a woman next to it giving me the hairy eyeball. I guess that’s a no go, but again the thought of playing the innocent, confused woman crossed my mind. “Oh silly me. I didn’t see that sign…so sorry to barge in on your dressing room like that Andrew!”
We started to look for our seats and were totally stoked when we found them! Such a good view and perfect for getting video. We sat down and I had a really weird experience. Karel seemed to know the person sitting next to her. Side note: Karel seemed to know everyone so it was cool hanging next to her that night so I could meet so many people. Double side note: I usually don’t like meeting people, but this was different for some reason. There was an immediate kinship knowing the person being introduced to you also shared the same time sucking obsession you did. Karel introduced me to a lovely woman named Jess and Karel told her I was also known as Emma Byrne. She was like “You are Emma Byrne?!? Oh my God! I cant believe it! That’s so cool! I love your pictures!” What a cool moment that was for me. Knowing that those silly little pictures are floating their way around and that people appreciate them is a cool thought.
It was time for the show to start. The MC started things off with some words and music. I was entertained by him, but was busy trying to get control of my phone. It seems it had exploded after my Periscopes and I wanted to see what was going on with everyone at H 24/7. Seems a shame to have my nose stuck in a phone during a live performance. I kind of felt bad about that, but I justified it to myself. “I am here for a Hozier experience and part of that experience is interacting with fellow fans…even if it is through a smartphone!”
HoneyHoney came on stage and as soon as she strapped on a banjo I immediately had respect for them. The banjo is, in my humble opinion, one of the most underrated instruments. HoneyHoney sounded amazing. A little blue grass, bluesy rock sound. I really enjoyed their performance as that style of music is right up my alley.
Now comes another surreal moment. Andrew was standing across the room watching Honey Honey with us. With…us. We were sharing an activity together. I can now say a sentence like, “Yeah Andrew and I watched HoneyHoney together.” Ok, so maybe saying “together” is a stretch. But I can stretch, right? Or if someone were to ask me, “Where is Andrew?” I could say nonchalantly, “He’s right over there.” To anyone else this would be silly thoughts, and maybe they are, but I know you guys understand. I figure only a really, really big Hozier fan would be reading this far into the story anyway. Andrew watched nearly the whole performance yards away from us. After HoneyHoney left the stage Andrew went backstage as well.
Next was Lukas Nelson and his band. Karel turned to me and said, “I already miss Andrew”. I knew what she meant. His presence in the room gives you a strange, out of body but exciting feeling and that feeling leaves with him. Is it him or that feeling that we love so much? Probably both. However, I also could understand what Andrew meant when he said “I’m just a normal dude” in his interview. The times where things felt surreal were also coupled with thoughts of, “He is just a really nice dude”. Very down to Earth and approachable (if not for security). The experience of meeting him in person had a strange effect on how I see him. It almost took him off of this pedestal I had him on and brought him down to a place where he is not this big celebrity, but just a really nice guy who has amazing talent. It broke some kind of wall where I could see myself hanging out with him if circumstances were different, and there would be nothing weird about it. Side note: This feeling was reinforced later when he bent over and I saw that he missed the back loop on his pants when he put on his belt. Relatable. Human. Just a very, very cool dude.
As soon as Lukas Nelson started singing I could hear his father’s voice. I love Willie Nelson, so I really enjoyed the sound of his voice too. Don’t get me wrong, Lukas sounds like Willie, but their styles are very different. If Willie Nelson, Lynyrd Skynyrd and Stevie Ray Vaughan had a stoned child, that would be Lukas Nelson. Needless to say, I enjoyed their performance.
After some information on the Bread and Roses Charity (which I would encourage everyone to look into and support) and an auction for fundraising, it was time for the main event. Andrew got up on stage and I was so excited to hear what was in store. He put his signature cup of tea on the ground (no cup holder this time), strapped on his guitar and stomped on his trusty guitar tuning foot pedal. After some charming banter he started thumbing the E string. To Be Alone! This is it ladies and gentleman! Please put your tray tables in the upright position and fasten your seat belts.
“This is strange”, I thought to myself. It felt like I was watching a YouTube video again (and no I was not watching through my phone). Cripes! I don’t want to watch a YouTube video, I want to watch Hozier live! I had to remind myself throughout the rest of the evening that this was live and to remain present. Something I didn’t expect. I almost wanted to crumple up a piece of paper and throw it on stage to break that mental barrier. However, I found there were different ways that the barrier broke. Whenever he looked at us (and I mean specifically us, not the crowd in general), it felt more real and intimate. There were a few times where something was said from our group that made him smile or look up at us and that made all of the difference when it came to the live performance. Not that I wanted his attention, but I wanted it to be a two way street. I didn’t want to just watch on a screen, I wanted it to be an interactive experience. When he looked up at us and winked I had wondered if he saw the note behind the picture that I gave him earlier, or if he had given the gift any further thought. Did he wink as a special thank you for the gift or was he just…winking?
After Take Me to Church, I was expecting the performance to be over, but the crowd wanted more! To my delight, the crowd was able to work together and collectively chant “one more song” (even though we couldn’t get our act together for the hand claps during Work Song)! He came back on stage but seemed at a loss for what to do. He worked well on his feet though, and suggested he sing The Parting Glass. I think I crapped myself again. Poor Karel, I must have really smelled bad that night with all of the crapping I did! What a treat! The Parting Glass?!? Last year I was obsessed with that song to the point of driving my family crazy listening to it and he is going to sing it…for us! I knew this was a rare gem and I was so grateful. The set list was incredible to say the least and I was so pleased with Sweet Thing and The Parting Glass being a part of it. Both of which, to my knowledge, he has not performed for a large audience. I knew we had seen something special. Everything was perfect: the venue, the seats, the set list, being able to meet the man himself and meeting so many amazing people. Click here to watch the whole set.
After the concert we decided to go to a place called The Edinburgh Pub. Me, Karel and Janet decided to go straight away and the others decided to stick around to try meet Andrew. Turns out they did! They got pictures and autographs and said Andrew was as sweet as usual. They met us at the pub after they were done meeting up with Andrew and we all had a great time discussing everything from the concert to the 2nd Amendment. It was super loud in there, so the discussions were more shouting than talking. Lots of laughing and smiling until it was time to say goodbye.
It was well past 1am and I took an Uber back to my hotel and went straight to the computer. Forget sleeping, time to geek out! Side note: I can’t believe you are still reading this! To my surprise the phone rang. Hmmm….a New York number. Clarice? She said her and Amy were in a pinch and couldn’t get their car out of the parking garage because it closed at midnight. Come on and crash here! The party was not over yet! They showed up and we had some more laughs and good conversation until I couldn’t stay awake any longer and drifted off to sleep, thus ending one of the best days of my life.