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Monday, June 7, 2010

Goodbye Harrison Rocks the Doug Fir

“Um, hi. I think I’m supposed to be on a list?” This should be a statement, a confident declaration, but it comes out a question. I’m panicky, uncomfortable with special treatment when my friends are regarded as regular customers. But tonight I’m a VIP.

Kind of.

I think.

(Okay, I’m with the band.) (The band!)

“Identification,” the bald, tattooed man behind the counter snaps. I slide my driver’s license through the hole in the glass. It’s a flimsy California ID, authentic yet unconvincing. Oregon waiters and ticket-takers never can find my date of birth, even though it’s stamped in bold, red ink below my photo, in which I’m ecstatic because I’d just passed the California state drivers’ test—on my first try. (In Oregon it took three times to pass the written portion and twice to pass the driving.) (Hey, no one told me to turn my cell phone off before pulling out of the parking lot. And to refrain from reaching into the back seat to answer it—the first and second time it goes off.)

We’re at the Doug Fir on East Burnside Street. The tattooed man hands me a ticket and backstage pass, and I wait for my friends to pay the ten dollar cover and get their wrists stamped. A pang of guilt strikes me as I watch them surrender their hard-earned cash, but it’s quickly suppressed by excitement. Twenty or so trendy Portlanders form a line that wraps around the corner of the venue, all of them eager to see Goodbye Harrison on one of Portland’s most popular stages.

For me, this is more than just a concert—the event has been on my calendar for a good three months—and now that it’s finally here and we’re five minutes from show time, I realize this moment is more nerve-wracking than anyone should have to endure without a pitcher of margaritas.

Backstage, Jeff is even more nervous, but in a good way. In a rock star, big-man-on-campus sort of way. He’s standing in the same spot that other celebrated performers have stood, waiting to take the stage and stir up the audience with original lyrics and fresh beats. He wipes the sweat from his forehead while looking at me, his eyes bluer than I’ve ever seen them.

My friends and I push past the swarm of fans just in time for the first song, one we haven’t heard yet. The sound echoes and reverberates off the floor and in my chest. Suddenly the Portland-based group is large-scale. Jeff grabs the microphone and screams (in his most superstar-ish intonation), “How’s everyone doin’ tonight?”

The crowd hollers with energy.

The beats pick up.

And tonight, the guys of Goodbye Harrison are celebrities.



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