On Friday, I got the chance to see one of my favorite bands, Failure, play their record Fantastic Planet in its entirety. While the performance was great, what struck me most was the crowd. Originally popular in the 90s, the band attracted a wide range of folks; old, young, and everything in between. While waiting for the show to start—I went by myself and got there about 20 minutes early—I inspected the band’s setup and was intrigued by a series of clear discs on stands in front of the drum kit. Wondering silently, someone just over my shoulder asked “what are those disc things?”
I turned around explaining I was just thinking the same thing. At random, we started talking about the band, whether I’d seen them before and our favorite music. What started as a quick conversation between myself and one other person slowly grew into a group of three (one guy had travelled from England just for this show). Curious where it would lead, I suggested we all grab a drink after the show. Fast forward a few hours and we all found ourselves in conversation at a bar near the venue, swapping musical preferences, life stories, and discontent with the upcoming election.
Parting ways after a second stop for some food and a bit of accidental walking into traffic, I hailed a cab and headed back home. A little blurry, I struck up a conversation with the driver (M). Reaching for the stereo, he asked “you like jazz?” to which I started listing off some of my favorite musicians (we clicked on Cannonball Adderley). Excited by the coincidence, we started talking about favorite musicians—he’d seen a macabre performance by one of mine, Townes Van Zandt before I was born—how he got into driving, and the general state of the world.
Frustrated, he said he was surprised to see me with my hand up, lamenting that most people just stare at their phones nowadays to get a ride (leaving traditional cab drivers out of business). Returning up north via an unfamiliar route, we swapped numbers as M suggested we meet up for a jazz night soon. A bit shocked by the random events of the evening, I rumbled up the stairs and called it a night.
Message received: talk to people. It’s become far too common to see people sauntering down the sidewalk, eyes affixed to glass worlds, ignoring everything around them. Instead of being removed, spark up a conversation. It may turn into something, it may not. A friendly hello could lead to learning about how a major lingerie retailer protects itself from scammers internationally, a slew of new music to check out, or picking up tips on how to navigate the city faster. Take advantage of serendipity and speak up, you won’t regret it.