Student’s dream of seeing the British band comes true in a big way

JENNA WILKINSON

jmwilkinson11@ole.augie.edu

Nutcase, crazed, obsessive. These are just a few of the less creative names I have been called regarding my love of Florence + the Machine, an alternative band from London. But for the past two years, their captivating lyrics and addicting beats have been the pulse of my world.

So naturally, when I discovered Florence was coming to the U.S. on tour for her new album Ceremonials, I immediately went online to find the closest concert location to Sioux Falls and the best seats possible. The result: second row at the Red Rocks Amphitheater in Morrison, Col.

Without hesitation, plane tickets were purchased, concert tickets were procured, and July 25 was quickly approaching. Before long, Mom and I were on our way to Colorado for the event of my life.

We arrived at Red Rocks hours before the show started, simply to meander around the legendary park.

For those who have seen Red Rocks, its grandeur is not easily forgotten. The stage is settled in the heart of the mountains, snuggled tightly between three huge red rocks. As far as I was concerned, the stage and beautiful outdoor atmosphere were0 the perfect place for Florence to dazzle the country.

My attention quickly narrowed as I spotted Florence’s tour buses. Reluctant to leave the immediate area in terror that Florence would spontaneously emerge, it took much persuasion for my mom to drag me around the park.

Then, in case my mom didn’t think I was insane enough already, Florence began to rehearse for the show. Even though I couldn’t see the stage from our location, the way her voice rang through the mountains was indescribably majestic. Naturally, I was reduced to sitting on a nearby rock, immovable, head in hands, knowing my idol was close.

Finally, we took our seats in the theater. I couldn’t believe how close we actually were. Soon, Florence’s opening band, The Walkmen, began to ignite the already restless crowd. As it drew closer to 8 p.m., the sky darkened. With each passing minute, the crowd became more deafening until the low organ note signaling Florence’s first song, “Only If for a Night,” pierced the mountain air.

Stunning in her off-white, floor-length dress, Florence graced the stage. Unsurprisingly, I started sobbing as she began to sing all the songs I knew so well. The moments passed too quickly as she poured through songs such as “Cosmic Love,” “The Dog Days are Over” and “Shake It Out.”

Funny and modest, Florence gave a personal feel to the show. She joked and laughed with the audience and allowed us to be a part of her performance. However, as the night drew to a close, she became solemn as she acknowledged the shooting in Aurora that occurred only five days before. She simply asked for a moment of silence, and the screaming fans became soundless and still. In recognition of the event, Florence dedicated her song “Never Let Me Go” to the victims of the shooting.

Florence could not express enough how grateful she was that over 9,000 people had come from all over the country to see them perform. As Florence said that evening, “It’s an honor to be in such a beautiful place with such beautiful people.” I can do nothing but reiterate her words, as it will be impossible to forget my evening in that beautiful theater with the privilege to see such a mesmerizing artist.