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The Dark Eternal Night: Dream Theater, Crimson ProjeKct @ Moody Theater, 7/7/12

“Drifting beyond all time
Out of a churning sky
Drawn to the beckoning light
Of the dark eternal night

Trapped in a hellish dream
Spinning past worlds unseen
And frightfully vanishing
Into the dark eternal night”

It is perhaps a product of the fact that I spend a lot of time alone that I often feel like I don’t live in the real world.

My life is pretty “big”. What I mean by that is that I’ve traveled a lot, I have friends all over the place. I have my hands in a lot of different projects work-wise, every day for me is completely different.

So when things from disparate areas connect, or weird timing happens, or something comes true that I talked about a while back…I don’t have anyone to turn to and discuss it…someone that will bring me back down to earth instead of going into an imagination-fueled, Matrix-like scenario that is completely non-religious yet equally crazy.

The afternoon of the Dream Theater show, I was supposed to meet someone and they canceled on me at the last minute, which has happened to me like 5 times in the past 2 weeks and is a real bruise to the ego. In a fit of frustration, I decided to sleep. I woke up an hour later completely confused as to what day and time it was, except that I was dreaming that I was standing on the top level of the Moody Theater at night with the hot breeze blowing through my hair and a cold drink with condensation in my hand talking to someone unfamiliar. I looked down and had a pass on my jeans, and then I remembered that tonight I was going to see Dream Theater.

I was glistening with sweat as I walked into the venue, glad for once that it was seated. I didn’t even know who was opening- they had just begun as I sat down. Wait…these songs sound familiar…that guy in the middle looks familiar. I looked it up on my phone, and discovered that The Crimson ProjeKct was a collection of former King Crimson musicians playing their songs. Now, I will admit I only got into King Crimson earlier this year after delving into the roots of progressive rock and metal as a result of the Metal Evolution series…but I really like a lot of it. And that guy in the middle…that’s Adrian Belew. He played guitar on Nine Inch Nails’ The Downward Spiral and The Fragile, also known as two of my most favorite albums of all time (he also played on Ghosts I-IV). Seeing someone who was a part of those albums made this a very surprisingly special opening act. As my body temperature cooled down, and I settled into the spaced out jazziness of the set, I took a look around. The place was packed, mostly with men or father/son groups that were in pure geek out mode. Then there were a lot of women there in what sort of looked like a date night gone wrong situation, arms crossed or on their phones. On this night, I felt really aware that I was alone in that crowd.

Between sets, I’m doing my twitter/instagram thing, and a guy taps me on the shoulder. He shows me a pass and asks me if I have one already. Feeling really weird, I said no, what was it for (like an idiot)? He explains that he isn’t staying for the headliner and didn’t want to waste an aftershow pass. And that’s when my stomach flipped.

I kinda sat there lost in thought over the weirdness of that happening, when the lights dimmed and the image-driven cubes and light show momentarily distracted me. Dream Theater are a band I don’t know a ton about; some songs really grab my interest, while others make me scratch my head. I rarely go to shows with so much pomp and circumstance, so I felt a bit like a cat with a laser pointer once the music began and all of those notes going every which way flooded my ears and the visuals attracted my eyes.

Beyond the incredible tones and fluidity that comes from John Petrucci’s guitar, I can’t take my eyes of the drum kit. Yes, I know the glaring error (perhaps) in today’s Dream Theater lineup is that Mike Portnoy is no longer the drummer. But the “new guy”, Mike Mangini, commands that crazy setup well. I mean, it looks like some kind of display featuring every drum option that exists! Mindblowing.

Seeing Dream Theater is like going to a heavy opera, and similarly, there are times when I found myself feeling like I was supposed to like this because it was so technically astute, impressively packaged, and cerebrally structured, rather than actually being super into it. But then a song like “The Dark Eternal Night” or “On the Backs of Angels” would be played, reminding me that DT have some soul invading tracks. I’m watching those in front of me, the occasionally horns being throw, err…more like tossed. Gently tossed horns.

To be able to experience Dream Theater in probably the best sounding venue I’ve ever been to was sublime. As it came time for “The Spirit Carries On”, I will admit that I had to stop myself from running out the door. I mean…it’s a simple, cliche song that sounds like something I would be forced to listen to in Sunday school that eventually turned me into a bible burning Satan worshiper (EXAGGERATION! Sorta)…but I stayed. Plus, I was still trying to figure out what to do about that pass in my purse.

It was at about this time that the guy behind me started screaming for “Metropolis”….for like 20 minutes straight until he got it. This final song is another I can fully get behind; it’s the perfect music for a montage in a late ’80s fantasy/action film.

So what happened to the girl who dreamed about the aftershow and then was given the pass to the aftershow? Did she go? The answer is no. Perhaps I am afraid of my dreams coming true.

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