Behind the Scenes, Getty Center

My First Concert Ever: Saturdays Off the 405 with Pickwick

Fresh off her swing-dancing experiment, fearless intern Rosie Narasaki braves the outdoor music scene

Rosie Narasaki at Saturdays Off the 405 at the Getty Center

NOT photoshopped. Courtesy of ace-photographer (and Getty public programs coordinator) Jaclyn Kalkhurst

I’m borderline agoraphobic (and disclaimer: a super-hypochondriac). Which is my explanation why I’ve never been to a concert before. While to my peers, activities like clubbing, concerts, and parties are standard fare for existence, enclosed areas packed with people have never really been my thing. The loud music, the hordes of people—not being able to walk without stepping on toes or taking an elbow to the face—I am easily overwhelmed.

Excuses, excuses…okay, so maybe I’m just a lazy hermit. But last Saturday, I’m glad I ventured out of my cave: Pickwick, a rock/soul band from Washington State, was playing Saturdays Off the 405 at the Getty Center.

I’m glad I got to experience my first concert with backstage privileges (my job for the day was pretty much Getty tour guide for the various artists. Underneath, the Getty is all labyrinthine white hallways, so you definitely need a little help with navigation). It was incredibly interesting to feel the nervous tension in the elevator as the band made their way to the stage…or maybe it wasn’t so much nervousness as excitement. Either way, I got a kick out of watching the members of Pickwick tease each other about the color of their Moleskines (“Is that lavender? Or bergamot?” If you didn’t get from their picture that they’re kind of hipster, you get it now) before ascending the stage to massive applause.

Another backstage perk: I was able to avoid all the things I usually dislike about concerts. I stayed on the fringes of the crowd, and actually spent most of my time back with the tech team, so there was none of that clawing claustrophobia kicking in. Though there were times when I had to weave my way through the crowds, dodging upraised iPhones and gingerly held, filled-to-the-brim, beautiful green Getty-tinis (with maraschino cherries!).

And taking a step back from the crowds, I actually got to observe people. Every age group imaginable was present in that audience, from a very old man dancing, flashbulb camera in hand (He took my picture. Should I have let him take my picture?) to a toddler, contentedly eating freeze-dried apples in his stroller, and everyone in between. Large groups of teenage girls, hipster college students, middle-aged couples—they were all there.

Pickwick was joined for their song “Lady Luck” by Canadian folk singer Basia Bulat (side note: she had on the cutest boots I’ve ever seen—they were burgundy suede ankle boots with a stacked heel and metallic detailing on the toe. Sorry for the stalker level of detail; I just really like clothes). Basia and Pickwick lead singer Galen Disston played off each other nicely, harmonizing and trading off verse by verse, and the song was a big hit. I even saw a mother out in the audience singing along, much to her preteen son’s mortification.

Basia Bulat and Rosie Narasaki at Saturdays Off the 405 at the Getty Center

Me and Basia. Dang it, her awesome shoes are out of frame!

Even as a concert-phobic hermit, I have to admit that one of the great things about experiencing live music is the way that the baseline starts to feel like your heartbeat. Looking through the audience, there was some definite foot-tapping and swaying. A young man in fluorescent green Ray-Bans and a plaid shirt head-banged to the beat, a college student did the “Rollin’ With the Homies” (Clueless, anyone?) movement with her arms, an awkward couple half-slow-danced in the front row, while the man next to them tapped his socked-and-sandalled feet, a group of friends danced in a circle, empty cups of beer in hand—it was a mellow crowd, and everyone was clearly soaking in the music.

About halfway through the show, the mist rolled in from the hills, causing many to remark that Pickwick must have brought their hometown weather with them (they brought some of their hometown fans as well, if the clump of people shouting “206! 206!” was any indication). The stage lights caught the suspended particles of mist beautifully; the blues and greens causing my supervisor to remark, “Ooh. Preeetty.” I had to concur. Watching them play against a backdrop of Getty travertine all lit up with rainbows was magical.

Pickwick performing in the Museum Courtyard at the Getty Center - Saturdays Off the 405

Pickwick singing their encore, a cover of Lou Reed’s “The Ostrich,” in the mist. Hey, that reminds me of Dian Fossey!

After the band finished their set, they did some unintentional heartbreaking (remember those hordes of teenage girls I mentioned earlier?). En route from the stage to the merchandise table, I saw a young woman in a fluorescent cardigan sunnily flash the rock-on sign. Poor girl: she slowly dropped both her grin and her rock-on hands, as she went inadvertently unnoticed. On the other side, I could hear a teenage girl exclaiming to her friend, “He’s right there. Oh my God, he’s right there; go hug him, go hug him!”

Needless to say, the line to meet the band stretched across the Museum Courtyard, from the fountain well into the entrance hall, and Pickwick graciously obliged in posing with their plentiful preteen fans, as well as fans from a wide range of other demographics. Teenage girls by no means dominated the space; they were merely the most vocal. When I teased keyboard player Cassady Lillstrom about all their young fans, he merely shook his head with a wry smile.

Saturdays Off the 405 picks up again on July 27, which will bring us “electro-meets-indie-pop” band Geographer. I’ve been brushing up on their music all week, and I have to say I’m pretty excited to go to my second concert ever. And I hope to see you there!

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      Painted in 1632, separated 1927, and reunited today, these paintings of this man and his wife live together in the collection.

      His smize tells all.

      Portrait of a Man, 1632, Nicolaes Eliasz Pickenoy. Dutch. J. Paul Getty Museum.

      08/20/14

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