There's an unacknowledged Christmas tree onstage and a spider spinning a web on the microphone. "Can I ask about the Christmas tree?" I ask later at the march booth. "Sure."
"What's with the Christmas tree?"
"I wanted something onstage, because there's really not a lot going on. I asked them to round up a couple old Christmas trees and they came through."
It made me think of that scene in Scott Carrier's, "Chasing After Antelope," where Scott Carrier is interviewing schizophrenics for a mental health survey. He's interviewing a woman in a house that feels normal except for a slice pizza that is upside down not the carpet.
"I can't stop looking at the slice of pizza on the carpet. I keep looking at it because it's the only clue that the woman is sick."
The Christmas tree feels like the pizza, an indication that, while everything is tame and expected, and Elverum is singing almost verbatim the songs we've heard on A Crow Looked At Me and the NPR First Listen streaming Now Only, there's a thread of undoing in all of this.
This isn't a normal show, even though it's scripted and abundantly rehearsed. The off-scripted moments feel loaded. The Christmas tree feels like a safe-haven for the eyes. To avoid sharing too strongly the feeling of loss.
I thought of the looks of the people in the hospice house, bravely looking at my father's yellowing eyes, bravely looking into our eyes which were wide and confused. They've been trained for this, so there's some comfort in that, but I know they have to go through genuine expressions of remorse in front of us.
Of course pancreatic cancer is the only link between Geneviève and my father. Today I was reminded of the times he wanted his father to die. The time he left him alone to choke in the bathroom at the Italian restaurant. The time my grandfather was white as a ghost because he had mixed pills with alcohol and how my father drove us away. A calcified murderous anger.
And I've never had a love the way is being sung about onstage. People are here with their person. White Belt Eagle Scout sends an homage to her person in the audience. People use this concert as sweet place to lean heads on shoulders and whisper little things like, "I would die if you died." I can't help but feel they should all be ashamed in some way, because I am alone and Phil's wife is dead and there's a dead Christmas tree onstage and a spider weaving a web and all of them are islands among themselves. Untouchable by the heaviness of this moments unraveling.
Next to me there's a boy mansplaining to a woman she has every right to consume media which supports her paradigm of the world. She wishes she had come alone. In no way does this person enhance her experience. And in this way I know too, there is no one is the world who could sit next to me and offer me any more brevity or depth.
Then I think of Ferranté. What was the pizza on the carpet for him? Such a madman. Somewhere along the Atlantic shore torturing another poor woman. It was stuffing coming undone from the seats in his car. Torn away by Ghost the German shepherd. He would leave her in there all day.
Ferranté would have had something to say. He lost his wife by cheating though, not cancer.
Later, in the lobby, I buy both records on vinyl. I've been listening to the albums on Spotify or NPR and wanted to throw money at the house that is being built in Anacortes or somewhere North of here. I want to throw money at the openness and the explaining of a real death.