Copenhagen: Challenging the norm

December 7

As with Poznan, it was already dark in Copenhagen when I arrived. Fortunately, I would be able to do some sightseeing a couple days later. That night, I would be playing a show at Think.dk, a "co-creative community and think tank" dedicated to saving the world. It would also my first (and so far only!) Low-Fi Concert. Low-Fi is another world-saving organization that facilitates intimate concerts like the ones I tend to play.

On the way to Think.dk, I was able to talk on the phone with Adam (my partner), which hadn't been possible for several days. The weather was blustery, and my suitcase wheels became cacophonous at every stretch of cobblestones — but patchy, substandard communication is a hallmark of life on tour.

I use Skyroam to stay connected, and it's almost always satisfactory, but my service tends to go AWOL whenever I'm on a fast train — which, on tour, would probably be the most convenient time for me to talk. And each day, when I reached the site of my next concert, it was important to be present and connect with my hosts. I was in a new place every day, but for my hosts and the people attending my shows, the new variable was me. So the opportunities to talk with Adam were few and sometimes far between.

Somehow, I managed to both talk on the phone and successfully navigate to the courtyard where Think.dk is located. The neighboring gym was a hive for fit Danes who buzzed in and out as I hovered nearby in an archway, avoiding the rain.

After a few minutes, I hung up, and it was time to get back to business. I approached the glass door of Think.dk. There was only dim light to be seen through it. I rang a doorbell, and when no one opened, I checked my phone to see if there were any messages from Anja. Then, I tried actually opening the door, and of course it swung right open. Up the stairs I went, then through another door. I remember thinking at that moment how strange it was to communicate with people living thousands of miles away, to see pictures of a room and a piano, then to suddenly be there in that room, shaking those people's hands and getting ready to play that piano.

The room was simultaneously open and cozy. Its design was impressively multifunctional — it appeared ready to accommodate a yoga class, a craft workshop, and a slumber party, with only minimal adjustments in between. For tonight, though, it was a concert venue.

 My low-fi shot of the stage setup.

My low-fi shot of the stage setup.

I got settled, and Anja generously fed me some delicious pumpkin soup with bread. Martin's kid Romeo opened the little door for December 7th on his advent calendar, and dropped the chocolate into his soup. While Anja and I chatted, Romeo worked on his Christmas wish list. He showed off a brand-name Santa hat he bought on the way home from school. Anja showed interest, then as an aside to me sort of shook her head in disbelief; not long ago, Romeo didn't think about brands at all.

The end-of-year holiday season is a peculiar time to be traveling. If you're traveling in places where Christmas is widely celebrated, you find yourself becoming privy to people's personal traditions. You see how they wrap presents and where they store them (under a tree? on a tree? hanging from clothespins along a length of twine attached to the wall?). You sample their holiday cuisine (more on that when I write about Sweden). You hear Mariah Carey's "All I Want for Christmas is You" everywhere (or at least in the UK, Poland, Russia, and France).

After dinner, I got ready for the show. I was excited to be playing a real piano, and to have the support of Think.dk and Low-Fi Concerts.

 Another low-fi photo, this one of a think.dk sticker that says "#24: Challenge the norm". 

Another low-fi photo, this one of a think.dk sticker that says "#24: Challenge the norm". 

As for the show itself — what can I possibly say when Erika Bálint from Low-Fi has already written so beautifully about it? Read her account of the evening here — it was, as she says, heartwarming. (Thanks again to Low-Fi and Erika for using they/them pronouns for me! Let it be a lesson to everyone else.) It was such a joy and an honor to play this show, and to meet Erika and Delia and Jacob and everyone, to talk to you and answer questions and share songs and some of the stories behind them. Thank you all for braving the weather and taking time out of your schedules in a very busy season to come see the show. I hope I can return to Copenhagen soon.

And in a way, I will, at least in my memory and on this blog, because I did return on the 9th of December. But first, I paid a visit to an enchanted forest near Bjerringbro, where I played my next show.

 I laughed when I saw this in the office. It has a slightly different tone than #24, "Challenge the norm". "#23: Feeling a bit stiff? Maybe it's the stick up your ass!"

I laughed when I saw this in the office. It has a slightly different tone than #24, "Challenge the norm". "#23: Feeling a bit stiff? Maybe it's the stick up your ass!"