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Fainting at a Guster Concert

It was happening. Guster was finally releasing a new album after four years. Evermotion promised to “become something else completely” and we were ready for it. I was living in Los Angeles at the time of its release party in Brooklyn. By the time Guster's tour made it to Los Angeles, I was living in Brooklyn. But no matter, they were set to perform a few weeks later in Philadelphia with Kishi Bashi. I grabbed three tickets and told my parents, also massive Guster fans, to get excited.


On the way, we listened to old Guster as I sat in the backseat eating a Tupperware of skirt steak and egg noodles. Admittedly, an odd car snack, but earlier that day my dad and I donated blood. Also, my mom's skirt steak is the best. 

We found a spot around the corner from Union Transfer, a former luggage transfer station turned premier concert hall, and walked in. My parents were a little disheartened by the lack of seating, but as we were early, found standing spots in the back affording them an opportunity to lean. My dad grabbed us a pretzel and a beer and we settled in to watch Kishi Bashi.

None of us had heard of Kishi Bashi, so watching him perform was interesting. What I remember most was how deeply I felt the sounds. The way they pinged off the wooden walls, the way they reverberated inside my body, the way they echoed from my head, down my throat and all the way to my toes. It was the most alive sensation I've felt at a live performance. Maybe too alive, because that's when my vision started tunneling. The outside edges closed in smaller and smaller until Kishi Bashi became nothing but a tiny dot engulfed in black. I strained my eyes, trying to focus. A hazy voice, my mom's, "Are you okay?" Calm as can be, more curiously than anything, I responded, "I can't see… and the sound… it's… jumbling. I can't hear anything." Throughout this exchange, my dad must've moved behind me because he caught me before I hit the floor. I fainted. The first time in my entire life. I came to as my parents were leading me outside. I assured them I was fine to walk the rest on my own. 

Once outside, we stood in a small circle. My mom does not handle this stuff well at all. Whenever one of us is sick, she feels it the deepest. She couldn't get over how calm I was throughout, asking if I was planning on saying something as all my senses disappeared or was I just going to ride it out in silence. At some point in the retelling of how weird it felt I subconsciously reached for my dad's arm right before fainting again. This time when I came to, I was in the arms of a massive bouncer. There is nothing I hate more than being picked up, so I demanded he put me down.

Then the blow. They weren't letting me back into the venue. Kishi Bashi was on his final song when I fainted the first time. Guster was set to take the stage any second. And we were outside. "I know drugs and concerts are basically synonymous but I don’t even do drugs. And I'm with my parents. I donated blood today, that's all. Please let me back in. They're my favorite band." I'm not ashamed to admit I begged. I probably would've gotten down on my knees if I wasn't afraid the downward motion would send me into another fainting spell. But they were unyielding. We trudged back to the car in silence. On the ride home, I'm not sure which my parents were more afraid of; that I'd faint again or my rage at missing the Guster concert.

Seven months later, Guster's tour circled back to Montclair, New Jersey, fifteen miles from my hometown. On the morning of, I jokingly asked my mom if I should donate blood. The question went over about as well as you'd expect. Once at the Wellmont, which thankfully has seats, my mom turned to me and took her own spin on the MTA announcement, "If you don't see something, say something." It has become something of a mantra in our family since.

The concert was as amazing as ever and I stayed lucid throughout. If you're ever presented with an opportunity to see Guster, take it. Just don't donate blood beforehand.

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