King's X, my absolute favorite band, played in San Antonio this past weekend. I made the drive down from Austin since we weren't lucky enough to be one of the stops on the tour. That's not something I'm willing to do for many groups. These guys are special and missing a rare live show in relatively easy driving distance was not an option.
I've been a King's X fan since the first album, "Out of the Silent Planet" from back in '88. These guys have been out there a while and they still rock hard on stage. I love their music. That's not the main thing that makes me drive across Texas to see them though. For me, it's that wave of positive energy that radiates from their stage. High volume positive energy. The guys love what they do. They love making music. They love their fans. They're one of these bands that hangs out after the show and will sign autographs, take photos, or just chat with every last person that wants to meet them, however long it takes. You just don't see that from many bands these days.
There is always a positive message shared at a King's X show. Bassist/vocalist dUg likes to share a few words - a little preaching if you will. Believe in yourself. Don't be a hater. Be kind to each other. Don't let others tear you down. That sort of thing. The message comes from the heart and leaves you with a good feeling.
The thing that blows me away more than anything at a King's X show is when/if they play Goldilox. I've seen them play a bunch of times and there is no guarantee they'll do it. That makes it even more special when they decide to pull it out. It's a really cool tune from their first album. It's a favorite of true fans and it's a real treat when the band plays it. You know they are going to do it when dUg turns the microphones toward the audience. That's because the way Goldilox goes down is the audience sings it while the band quietly plays the melody. Or they might drop out altogether and let the crowd lead it acapella. It's a beautiful thing. It's a reciprocal gift between the band and fans - a moment deeply enjoyed by all. One big family.
I was thinking a lot about Goldilox on the way home. Those of us who are artists, whether musicians, photographers, painters, whatever the case may be - we all have our ideas of what success means. I think too often we associate success with numbers - sales, web site hits, "likes" on social media. King's X isn't a mega band raking in millions of dollars per year. However, they are absolutely successful in my book. They get to do what they love for a modest living and they are smiling the whole time they are on stage playing the music they love with each other. And they have Goldilox. When your fans take a song you wrote and sing it back to you...when you can just stand there and take it in...damn. It's powerful. You can see it in their faces. They reached some people with their music on a deep and personal level. That....that is success.
When I go to concerts, I get annoyed by all the cell phones in the air. I prefer to just be in the moment and enjoy the show. Why spend all that money on tickets only to stare at a silly little screen the whole time? For a few quick moments though, I had to be that guy. Moved by what I was seeing and hearing as the crowd sang Goldilox to the band, I snapped a few shots with my iPhone. It was too beautiful of a moment to not capture just a little bit of it. They aren't great photos and maybe they won't mean anything if you weren't there that night. These are for me and 3 guys that make some great music together. Ty, dUg, Jerry - love you guys. Do me a favor though and stop in Austin next tour.