The line was long. The line was wayyyy long. On Dec. 27-- a Sunday, no doubt-- at about 6pm, folks with advanced tickets to Goapele's 7pm performance stood in line at Liv Nightclub on top of Bohemian Caverns to get in early to grab seats to watch the songstress perform her classics "Butterfly Kisses" and "Closer" with new tunes from her upcoming release "Milk and Honey".
Unfortunately, in this case of waiting in line early, the early bird DID NOT get the worm.
Those of us in line early, arriving at 6:30pm or earlier for the show waited for at least 45 minutes in the bitter cold as the Liv Nightclub staff kept us outside for what they said first was "technical difficulties" then, when one of our group went to inquire 20 minutes later, we were told they were moving tables and chairs. When we saw Goapele actually leave the building at about 6:55pm and jump in a red truck, we weren't feeling too encouraged that the show was going to take place. "She's just going to get something to eat," said one of her entourage members as the door closed, but, of course, we were not thrilled to hear this. It was cold.
After waiting in line for a good hour or so and enduring the neighborhood line heckler who had imaginary conversations with folks in line and loudly proclaimed victory over football teams while shouting praise to his religious deity while the infamous DC rats scurried to and fro, we were let in-- we being those with tickets purchased online. Those who had endured the cold in line with us and had expected to buy tickets were told they would not be let in any earlier than 8:30pm and only if space was allowed.
(In photo: Goapele warmed her audience up with some of her favorites, including a cover of Diana Ross' "Love Hangover" Photo by Khadijah Ali-Coleman)
So those of us with our tickets thawing in our hands walked upstairs to find that when they said earlier that they had moved the chairs and tables, they weren't kidding. They had moved them completely out of the room. There was only standing room. (There were three couches in a roped off area). So, those of us who had waited in line for over an hour to merely get inside had to then stand for the entire show which, at this point, was going to probably extend past 11pm and not start until 8pm. When going to the bar to get warm on liquor, to make matters worse, we were dismayed to find that there were limited selections of alcohol, with some choices just absent-- including Remy and Hennessey--which continued the tone of the evening.
The room quickly filled with folks and before long, we were standing shoulder to shoulder in the small area that contained the small stage, the bar and a roped off area for VIPs who were allowed to sit on a choice of two or three couches. We weren't VIPs on this night, so we continued to stand.
The energy slowly begin to thaw and circulate some positivity when the DJ began to play some music in the interim. He was fantastic. The growing crowd grooved to old school hip-hop and some classic R & B before Goapele's opening act VRich came on stage to perform, with local superstar Alison Carney on backing vocals.
(In photo: Liberated Muse member Hook of MYST studios and Liberated Muse co-founder Maceo Thomas. Photo by Khadijah Ali-Coleman)
The evening did get gradually better with the line-waiting fading into distant memory as VRich entertained, showcasing exceptional piano skills and Goapele finally emerging and coming onstage, garbed in a black dress and green stillettos.
"I love your shoes," yelled a gaggle of young women on the side of the stage and Goapele smiled as she warmly greeted her fans.
Her performance began in good humor despite terrible sound which buried her soft vocals underneath the pitchy strike of each note the keyboardist hit. The keyboards were up so high that there had to be dogs down the street that could communicate with each note played. This is not a diss on the keyboardist's skills-- on the contrary. Goapele's entire band of musicians were extremely gifted with her lead guitarist and drummer insanely dope. However, the sound settings were so erratic, and you heard so little of Goapele's voice, that the musical prowess of her musicians could not disrupt the growing frustration over not being able to hear the lyrics long enough to begin singing along with them. The spontaneous screech of the feedback in the speakers that pierced the eardrums of those of us standing closer to the front did not make well the night either.
All in all, some of us left early when photographers and others began to push their bodies forward to get to the front in the crowd that now had spilled out into the hallway and was now becoming a bit claustrophobic. As we left, we couldn't help but be a little disappointed that we forgot to purchase VRich's CD on our way out-- it was on sale that evening for only $5! As we paused on the steps, considering to get the CD now or order later online, the thought of wading through the crowed room flashed in our heads and we decided that heading home at that moment was in our best interest. At last check, we had been standing for over two hours straight and never in our lives had we longed for a chair so bad.