Josh Ritter & the Royal City Band @ the Taft Theatre (4/14/13)

I’ve been keeping Josh Ritter in my back pocket since 2001.  That’s when I first heard his song “The Golden Age of Radio” on a free compilation.  I could tell from the opening line about the girl in the cowboy hat that he was right up my alley, but I didn’t do anything about it.  I didn’t buy his records.  I just set him aside for emergency purposes and slowly gathered a bunch of his songs on other comps (“Girl in the War”, “Wings”, “Kathleen”, “You Don’t Make It Easy Babe”, and “Wolves”).  Josh Ritter stayed in my back pocket for years.  Waiting.  Poor guy.

Then 12 years went by in what felt like 6 months and I found myself sitting in Beth’s house half listening to her copy of Josh Ritter’s new record, The Beast in Its Tracks.

josh ritter download card

(the beast in its tracks download card)

I got to the song “New Lover” and knew right then that it would be my favorite song of the year.  It’s probably my favorite break-up song since something off Blood on the Tracks.  That last line hits so hard, but he manages to keep some humor in there; it’s not all hate and vitriol.  Not only did I know I loved “New Lover”, I knew it was finally time to take Josh out and give him the attention he deserved.  I went to the record store and filled in the numerous gaps in his discography.

It was around this time that I noticed Josh Ritter was scheduled to perform a show at the Taft Theatre.  I can get there in 11 minutes!  I decided to go.

josh ritter promo postcard

(promo postcard)

Then I changed my mind and decided to stay home and sulk for no reason.  Then I decided to go.  Then I changed my mind again and went back to the sulking option.  Sometimes it’s hard to put on pants.  Then I entered a fake raffle to win tickets.  I didn’t win.  I sulked some more and wrote a post about Dirk Benedict.  Then, a half hour after the doors had already opened, I decided to go to the concert.  I got in my car and zoomed off before I could change my mind for the eleventh time.

I got downtown and headed for my secret street of free parking spaces.  It’s just around the corner from the Taft Theatre and I’ve been parking there since the early 90s (Big Head Todd, probably).  Nobody ever parks on my secret street.  It’s mine!  The entire street was empty when I pulled in.  All the other people probably followed the guy waving the fluorescent flag into the $10 garage.

I walked to the Taft Theatre and took a picture of the marquee.  I take pictures of marquees.  It’s one of the things I do.

josh ritter marquee

(taft theatre marquee)

Another thing I do is dismiss guys with dreads trying to sell me their extras.  I instead walked into the venue and asked the ticket lady to give me a seat as far away from other people as possible.  It wasn’t as far away as I would’ve liked, but many of the upper sections were blocked off and not available.  It ended up being a great seat.  And I saved about $13 in excessive Ticketmaster charges by buying straight from the venue.  Here’s my ticket:

josh ritter ticket

(josh ritter ticket)

I headed on in and checked out the merch table while Sea Wolf was performing the opening set.

josh ritter merch table

(the merch table from above)

I purchased the show-specific poster by a designer named Charlie Wagers.  It will sit flat in my closet with all the other concert posters I’ve collected over the years.  One of these days I’m going to get them properly framed and displayed.  Until then, it’s the closet for them.

josh ritter poster

(josh ritter poster)

The problem with buying posters is that it’s no fun to hang on to them all through the show.  They tend to get dinged up.  So I walked back to my car and put the poster in the trunk.  Then I headed back to the Taft to catch the end of Sea Wolf’s performance.  I liked what I heard and probably should’ve waited until the set break to safeguard my poster.  Oh well.

And then Josh Ritter came out.  He was amazing.  He has so many great songs and it looks like he really appreciates that people pay money to hear him sing them.  It looks like he enjoys what he does.  That joy sort of rubs off, too.  I left feeling so high and happy.  It reminded me of how I used to feel when I was a kid coming out of church.  The music high lasts a lot longer, though.  The church high was probably just the sugar from the free donuts coursing through my eight-year-old veins.

I don’t know what I’m talking about.  All I really know is that I made a mistake keeping Josh Ritter in my back pocket for so many years.  I should’ve taken him out a long time ago.

Back to the show.  Highlights for me included “Lillian, Egypt”, “Wolves”, “Snow Is Gone” (which made me teary-eyed for reasons I can’t figure out), and the finale, “To the Dogs or Whoever”.  I would’ve liked to have heard “The Golden Age of Radio”, but just about everything he played was great and I’m definitely not whining.  The only misstep the entire night came during “Kathleen”.  The song itself was good, but Josh’s rambling story in the middle didn’t make any sense and went nowhere.  He should’ve practiced that one in the mirror beforehand.  Oh well.  Sometimes they work and sometimes they don’t.  It doesn’t matter.  As always, here are my handwritten setlist notes:

josh ritter setlist notes

(handwritten setlist notes)

Even I can barely read that, so here’s that setlist all spelled out in a legible way.  I can vouch for it being complete and accurate:

Main set: Idah0/Southern Pacifica/Hopeful/Harrisburg/Evil Eye/Lillian, Egypt/The Curse/Joy to You Baby/Wolves/Change of Time/(on airplane magazines & ghosts)/Galahad/Snow Is Gone/The Appleblossom Rag/Folk Bloodbath/(on marriage & divorce)/In Your Arms Again/Good Man/New Lover/Monster Ballads/Right Moves/Kathleen

Encore: Lights/To the Dogs or Whoever

And that’s all I have to say about Josh Ritter except that he gives away a lot of his music to get the word out there.  There are currently two live shows and a sampler available for free and legal download on NoiseTrade.  It’s all good stuff and the sampler even includes the studio version of “New Lover” that convinced me it was time.  All you need to do to get the songs is give Josh your email address and zip code.

Oh, and I forgot about these stickers I got free for buying the poster:

josh ritter sticker

(josh ritter sticker)

charlie wagers sticker

(charlie wagers sticker)

By the way, I have no idea what that “back pocket” thing was about.  Sorry.

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14 Responses to Josh Ritter & the Royal City Band @ the Taft Theatre (4/14/13)

  1. I had the same experience after seeing him here in Seattle with Beth. I had started a new medication that made me feel super yucky all week long. It was still touch and go that saturday morning. I decided to pack pretzels in my bag and go. I am SO very glad I went. My cheeks hurt after the show because I did not realize I had been smiling through the whole show. After the show I felt like I had been at some revival tent in one of his songs and I was healed.
    Funny the last two shows I have been to, Richard Buckner and Josh Ritter BOTH said something to the point of “Thanks for leaving the house to be with me tonight” my anxiety has held me back so much, it made me feel like the universe was saying “good for you getting out, look how fun living is!” haha!

    • M-----l says:

      Josh Ritter said this while thanking the audience for coming last night:

      It’s hard to get out of the house, I know.

      I wrote the quote down in my book because I had such a difficult time convincing myself to go to the concert…even though I knew I’d have a good time if I did go. Sometimes it’s just easier to hide in the house in a pair of sweats and eat an entire bag of salty nacho chips instead of dinner.

      It makes me happy to hear that you enjoyed your Josh Ritter concert so much. Never underestimate the power of rock ‘n’ roll…and prescription drugs!

  2. crankypants says:

    He’s probably glad to be out of your back pocket. It’s probably better for your posture too. Maybe your knee will feel better now.

    • M-----l says:

      As I mentioned at the end of this post (it’s okay if you didn’t get that far), I don’t really know what I was talking about with the “back pocket”. I wrote the first sentence of this post last night in my head during the concert. It made sense to me at the time.

      My knee feels pretty good this week. I don’t even bring my cane when I go up stairs anymore. Pretty soon I’ll be stretching out triples Utley-style.

  3. homebody says:

    I’m glad you enjoyed the show and wish I could’ve flown out there to join you. Thank you for introducing me to Josh Ritter’s music in the first place!

    Oo, from what I can make out in the merch table photo, the Taft Theatre has a cool lobby, and its website says it was built in 1928 … Can we go there next time I’m in town?

    Dang, the evil eye was available as a turntable mat? Now I regret not getting close to the merch table when he was here last month.

    • homebody says:

      (I just lied. Its website doesn’t say it was built in 1928, but something else in the Google search results did.)

      • M-----l says:

        Josh Ritter joked that the Taft was 800 or 900 years old. 1928 sounds about right, though. It was a lot nicer looking this time than it’s been in the past. They might’ve refurbished some things. I think you’d like the venue. Rusted Root plays this Friday. Come on out!

        (Just kidding about Rusted Root.)

  4. Yay, free downloads! Oh wait, free downloads make me feel guilty. My son always lectures me on how broke artists are and if I’m serious about supporting musicians I should pay, pay, pay. But then I say, “I can’t afford to spend money on music, I just spent $900 fixing my car.” I go back and forth until I get drunk some night and end up buying fifty dollars’ worth of CDs because I want them. And then I feel guilty and happy. Kind of like the time I turned on the hose and stuck it down the mail slot in the front door of this one neighbor who threw parties on weeknights and screamed like a howling dog at 3 in the morning.

    I assure you I’m not drunk as I write this.

    • M-----l says:

      NoiseTrade is 100% legit. They even have a digital tip jar there where you can thank the artists for sharing their music if you feel too guilty for taking their samplers for free. You can give as little as a dollar. I didn’t leave Josh a tip when I downloaded his NoiseTrade stuff, but I have purchased three of his albums in the stores in the last month.

      I hope none of my neighbors read about your hose prank. My outdoor water faucet is right around the corner from my mail slot. A 10′ length of hose could flood my house.

      • You don’t throw loud parties on a Wednesday after midnight, do you? This guy also used to tie his dog outside and leave the poor thing out overnight while he got drunk. The dog would cry and bark all night, though my husband used to say, “Are you sure it’s not the guy who’s barking?”

        But yeah, that’s why I’m glad we don’t have a mail slot leading directly into our house. I don’t want any points of entry in the fortress.

  5. Hey! Thanks for the rad bird’s eye photo of Charlie and I at the merch table. Glad you had a good time. Say hello next time we roll on through.

  6. Pingback: The Best Things I Heard All Year | Outgoing Signals

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