Good music is instrumental in making one happy, and there is much of such music in the world. Truly excellent music, however, is much rarer, and has a much more profound effect. Indeed, the only possible way to describe it is rebirth. To hear such excellent music is to hear music for the very first time.
I try to avoid unnecessary hyperbole, but seeing Gothen perform at their cd release show was one of the most special experiences I have ever had with music. The passion, talent, and love reverberating throughout the room was enough to make this cynical grad student melt with feeling. Now give me a chance to qualify this melodrama with some details.
I first discovered Gothen when a link to their Kickstarter page appeared on my Facebook feed. The plea on the Kickstarter was simple, if not a little pretentious: "Support Gothen in creating a wildly beautiful debut album." Putting my reservations aside, I watched the promotional video.
I don't know how, but a one-minute preview of a song from a band I had never heard of caught my attention in a way that few songs ever do. There was something special happening here that I didn't understand. I pledged immediately.
In the coming weeks I followed the campaign like an anxious teenager follows a crush. As the deadline grew closer, I was sick to think that they might not reach their goal. What would happen then? It was crazy, but I felt wholly committed to the success of these strangers. In my own small way, I helped by posting links to their Kickstarter page on my own wall. I know at least one of my friends pledged after seeing the link. Gothen reached their goal mere hours before the deadline. Though I had no idea what the end result would be, I felt like I had helped something important.
Fast forward about seven months. On Friday Gothen had their album release show at the New Echo Theater in Provo. The building, previously the location of the Provo Library, was the perfect venue. In a large room on the south side of the building, rows of chairs sat facing a large stage. It felt like going in and sitting down to hear a recital. As it turned out, the recital ambiance was exactly right.
The show was perfect in every way. I don't say that lightly. It began with the audience. The audience was not made up of a bunch of cynical twenty-somethings looking to be entertained. Rather, these were friends, family, and strangers like me who all had some degree of sincere support for these musicians. Smiles abounded from start to finish. I've never felt such a positive environment at a concert.
The joy of the audience was matched by the confidence and talent of the musicians themselves. They put on an amazing performance, every one. The opening act consisted of a man and woman singing heartfelt songs to the rhythm of a soft guitar. The vulnerable sincerity of it set the mood. When Gothen took the stage, we were already enthralled. They only heightened our collective awe.
From the first notes on the piano to the last strum of the guitar, Gothen's performance was a once-in-a-lifetime display of talent and beauty. Their kickstarter plea was no hyperbole. The album is wildly beautiful. Every few minutes I looked over to my wife, gaping in disbelief. "I can't believe this!" I'd whisper to her. She'd nod in reply.
Gothen is not made up of mere musicians, but storytellers. And they aren't ordinary storytellers, either. These are kind of storytellers that take you to places more beautiful than you thought could exist. When the band (or should I say orchestra?) played its final notes, we, the audience, jumped up in eager exultation. I never felt so grateful for artists. I never felt so lucky to witness an artist's accomplishment.
My wife and I talked quietly as we left the theater, though we mostly just savored the feeling. We both agreed that we hadn't heard anything so beautiful in a very long time. We were only grateful for these musicians for showing us, again, how wildly beautiful music, and life, can be.
Thank you, Gothen, for sharing your gifts with all of us. Thank you everyone for making it possible.
You can check out Gothen on their bandcamp page here. Please do.