The Garden State soundtrack was the soundtrack of my young adulthood.

The movie and the music resonated with what my friends and I were feeling in college. It captured our coming-of-age angst, anxiety, uncertainty, and desire for something more. Whatever more was. We weren’t quite sure (and probably still aren’t). But we knew it sometimes felt like that Shins song or trying to let ourselves feel like whatever we were actually feeling, falling in love with our best friend, or screaming into an infinite abyss. Watch a clip of the movie scene here

The songs captured all of these things with a certainty that hit us deep down in the gut. We listened to the soundtrack on repeat. I’d never heard artists like Iron and Wine, The Shins, or Frou Frou. And then there is that beautiful, melancholy Colin Hay song, “I Just Don’t Think I’ll Ever Get Over You.” For me, the soundtrack created a lasting fondness of these artists.

Around this same time, my friends and I watched a lot of Scrubs. Zach Braff also directed Scrubs and included Hays in the show on a couple of occasions.

“My Philosophy,” the thirteenth episode in season two stands out as one of the best. As a woman passes away waiting for a heart transplant, the cast joins her singing Hay’s song “Waiting For My Real Life to Begin.”

This musical number moves me to tears each time. Watch this scene here

This song has been a companion through grief and loss job searching and waiting for good things to come.

My college roommate and I saw Hays play at The Pantages 10 years ago. “Colin Hay? Isn’t that the guy who was in Men At Work?” mom asked, very amused by his sudden resurgence. Before, I had only attended hot, outdoor festival concerts or ones in clubs where everyone stands and pushes their way towards the front. As a short person, I spend most of these concerts never actually seeing anything. Pantages seating is assigned. We found ourselves front and center. Newly 21, I felt quite grown-up  carrying my glass of wine to my seat.

His wife joined him onstage. They both sang and she danced. I couldn’t believe how a single guitar sounded like a hundred. It was beautiful and hypnotizing. Afterwards, he stuck around to sign merchandise and take photos.

When I saw that Colin Hay was returning to The Pantages, I bought tickets. Last night’s concert captured much of the same magic. One thing to know about Hay’s shows is that they’re part stand-up comedy and part singing. He tells stories and he swears a lot, but he mostly sings. This visit he paid musical tributes to Bob Dylan and Prince.

Spending money on live music is a funny thing. You won’t necessarily leave holding anything tangible, but you get to feel things.

For that two or three-hour stretch, it’s easy to be present. In fact, it’s impossible not to. Nothing else matters; not the work waiting at your desk, not the world that feels like its burning, not the chores waiting of you at home. There’s only enough room in your mind for the loud, all-encompassing music surrounding you, whether it’s a keyboard or a voice or the sound of a hundred guitars.

For all of this, the time and money is completely worth it.

For a pre or post-show drink in downtown Minneapolis: Head to The Depot. 

The “Purple Rain”

When I asked for suggestions online for where to enjoy a pre-show cocktail, friends recommended The Depot Tavern connected to First Ave. This bar and restaurant is open late and mixes strong drinks. We saw folks relaxing at the bar watching the Timberwolves game, families enjoying dinner, and couples at the back tables sipping drinks.

Most of the signature cocktails cost $8.50. For a very strong, bordering on Red Dragon strength drinks, this is a very good price in downtown Minneapolis.  Sure, you can also order drinks at The Pantages if you feel like paying $10 for a can of Surley. You might as well start here, though.