The entire world has set up defense against you. You’re exhausted, confused, dehydrated and on your way to being temporarily homeless. You also have two tickets in your pocket to see a band. Do you go?
For me, there is a 99 percent chance I wouldn’t and I’ll bet that no matter how much you want to romanticize the situation, you wouldn’t either. Total complete exhaustion takes over your brain and says, “Nah, dude. Catch ‘em next time.” But there is that 1 percent, right? That 1 percent depends all on who the artist is. Which artist balances out the fact that no matter how beat down you are, you’re not going to miss that show? I think we all have that musician. As it turns out, mine is Prince.
My story starts about two and a half weeks ago right before the second big snow fall. The temps were in deep freeze and had been causing me tire problems and, as it turned out, was the last straw to mess up the rear struts. We would become a one-car family with all of the schedule juggling that comes along with that. It would make for an annoying, inconvenient week, but nothing catastrophic, and if it were only that, I wouldn’t be writing this. My attempt to get the car repaired would lead to a back and forth with a local auto body that was obviously trying to overprice the situation. Luckily, my step father-in-law came to the rescue and fixed it for over a grand less. A small win in this part of the story.
We were still single-car when 10-inches dropped down on our little river house. I was out shoveling the driveway when a neighbor came over to lend a hand. “Where’s this snow going to go when it melts?” The neighbors were keen to keep an eye on snowmelt since most of them had been there for the 2011 flood, a few in the ’97 flood. It hadn’t dawned on me that we were in trouble, since I don’t associate floods with sub-zero temps, but alas it did warm up and as you’ve no doubt noticed on the news, melted quickly enough in the warming week to cause some serious problems throughout the waterfront.
We were optimistic and charging ahead as if nothing was wrong. My son had his first talent show at school and I was prepping for SXSW in Austin. The reports came in that we could see the river at 27 feet, so we’re safe. Then it went up to 28. Close but not drowning. Then 30. Okay, time to pack up the goods and get the hell out.
That was Saturday morning at 2 a.m. A week prior, The Purple One had announced a surprise run of shows here in Louisville and my wife had scored us a pair for the Saturday night show. By early morning Saturday, we were both starting to question whether we’d need to sell our tickets. The water was rising fast and we were doing all we could to get our belongings to safe ground. A lesson learned — it’s completely possible to pack up your entire life in a day.
By 6 p.m. the house was cleared, my mom was on her way to get my son for the night, and my wife and I found ourselves giving a thousand yard stare to our own reflections in the mirror, the two faces looking back totally unrecognizable. With our lives turned upside down, the thought occurred that this is the last time we’ll be able to let our hair down and have fun for a while, so damn it all, let’s go for it.
You’ve read Facebook. It was every bit amazing as people have said over and over again. The jolt of adrenaline Prince gave us the moment he took the stage was all that we needed (though the Red Bulls didn’t hurt). Hit after hit. The greatest living guitar player who’s also a master songsmith and entertainer. It’ll go down as one of the top 10 concerts of my life, but just as much for the music as the events leading up to it. Had it been just about anyone else, I would have missed it and I would have missed everything. It was a moment of proof that music can cure us, and in a “Delirious” state of mind, a badge of complete obsession. •
Kyle Meredith is the music director of WFPK and host of the nationally syndicated “The Weekly Feed.” Hunting bears was never his strong point.