Last night, I went to a concert that surprised everyone, even the musicians. I’ve been excited for a while about Spokane playing host to Katie Herzig, one of the people whose music I’ve fallen in love with via Noisetrade. There is not a song of hers that I don’t like, and her voice is captivating. She was bringing another member of Ten out of Tenn along for the ride as well: Butterfly Boucher. I was not terribly familiar with her (only through the most recent Ten out of Tenn record) but I was willing to give her a try. Even more unexpected (and unbilled as far as I can tell) was the opening band: John Heart Jackie, from Portland. What all of these artists had in common last night was that they were playing the A Club without microphones.

Something had gone wrong with the system and apparently the radio had been coming through the speakers spouting financial advice. The bands improvised and moved the stage down to the floor, set up chairs and ended up with a magical, completely acoustic show that dazzled the senses. I don’t think anyone missed the extra volume. As Peter from John Heart Jackie said, they were playing in our living room. Amazingly, we managed seats in the front row, practically in the laps of the performers.

For those of you who know my love for the Civil Wars and share it, you may want to check out John Heart Jackie. They mixed lovely harmony, diversity of instrumentation and stylish staging with beautiful songwriting. I look forward to following them with interest.

Butterfly blew me away. She was so quirky and funny and her music was relatable, with a slight techno edge. At one point she said: “Okay, I’m going to sing this piano part here,” and started humming and “da da daing.” She was delightful and also seemed to enjoy the intimate nature of the show, saying that she felt like she didn’t have to shout.

Of course, Katie was amazing. She nailed every song, from the ones we all knew and could sing along with to the beautiful new things from her brand new record: The Waking Sleep. My friend and I realized afterwards that she had played us every song off the record and I know that several of these songs are becoming my new favorites. The album is a little more grown up for her, and she had dedicated it to her mom, right before she died from cancer a few short weeks ago. It was very precious to share the evening with her playing these songs that she has obviously labored long over.

I ended up sitting next to a die-hard fan who had driven all the way from Canada to be at the show. While she let me snag the first two set lists, she took Katie’s and my address, promising to mail me a photocopy.

It’s been a while since a live show has so delighted me. I wanted to communicate that somehow with the artists as I chatted with them in between sets and after the show. It’s a gift that they give to us, to show up, to make music in front of us, to be flexible, but also to be off by themselves writing the music that makes up the soundtrack of our lives, the things that get stuck in our heads and resonate in our hearts and thrill us to the floor. Last night was all of that for me, and it will live on in my heart for a very long time.