My idea of a perfect concert is seeing an act I love at an intimate venue that's close by with plenty of parking, all for an affordable price. In other words: a pipe dream. Seeing an act I love usually requires battling traffic to get to Philly or Manhattan, paying an obscene amount to park, and contending with large crowds. So when I learned that one of my favorite singers, Ingrid Michaelson, was performing right here in Lehigh Valley at Muhlenberg College for $20 per ticket, I couldn't purchase mine fast enough. On the way to the show last Sunday, however, doubt started to set in. Were we substituting traffic jams and expensive parking for an evening surrounded by drunken college kids?
Half a mile away from Memorial Hall, I started pointing out parking spaces because I was certain that there wouldn't be any near the entrance. My husband kept driving, despite my protests, and to my disbelief we scored a spot right outside the door. Forget about drunken college kids, I was worried we'd be the only ones there. But when we entered the gymnasium my concerns faded away under the hazy red and blue lights, which revealed an intimate crowd of about 500 people, a mix of students and the general community. With no assigned seating, we had the option to stand in front of the stage or sit in the bleachers; nobody was more than sixty feet from the stage.
Andy Grammer, of "Keep Your Head Up" fame, opened with an energetic acoustic set that had everyone singing and dancing. Michaelson followed, accompanied by backup singer/guitarists Allie Moss and Bess Rogers. They too gave an acoustic performance with Michaelson switching between her signature ukulele and piano to perform fan favorites like "The Way I Am" and "The Chain". They also played songs from her new album, Human Again, which was decidedly fitting considering the audience interaction afforded by the cozy setting, allowing us to see not only the human, but humorous, side of Michaelson.
I left Memorial Hall with a smile on my lips; my concert experience far surpassed anything a big city could've offered, and it showed me that the perfect concert isn't a pipe dream after all.