an honest night with ezra bell

By Linnea Anderson

Photos taken by Linnea Anderson

it was something good. screams and drunkenness and giggles all around. 

we got there early. scored a free ticket from some lady at the bar. and slid into the back venue. quite bare. 

whole lotta denver folk out that evening. maybe ezra bell attracts a type. i felt like i was back home in portland. coincidentally their home too. 

i saw them there. back in 2019. a cold and rainy day in august. an old friend swindled me into a nearly vacant gated parking lot. $5 through the entrance. about an hour to kill. 

she brought cards. delt hands of crazy 8s under a picnic umbrella. barely out of the storm. 

cold. we saw ben. the main singer. she asked for a picture. he asked why. 

big fans i guess. 

back in denver. my brother and i wait. 

run through two warm-up bands. itching and scratching. 

the first warm-up played a 90s rap melody in a somber singer-songwriter tone. it gets a couple giggles.

and later an acoustic rendition of thrift shop by macklemore? too good to be true. 

he is barefoot. we find it funny. 

people filter through. frequenting the bar. the patio. backstage. 

i swear i see my 6th grade science teacher. it’s not him. 

it’s heating up. physically i mean. everyone’s waiting impatiently. 

some man in his 40s is perched crisscross applesauce in the center of the dance floor. he stayed that way through both warm-ups. but as the time approaches the witching hour, he rises. 

ben treads out on stage. acting natural. it takes the crowd a while to notice him. he is barefoot in a paisley shirt and tweed golf hat.

people scream and he gives them a taste of his timid charming smile. it reappears throughout the show as he makes eye contact with the attendees who know the lyrics. 

he might’ve had a black eye. maybe from a heated interaction on the streets of colorado springs. where he played the night before. 

that’s a daring guess though. he doesn’t seem like the type to get into a fight. not with that smile. 

the gig starts quickly. the whole band is tuned into some strange frequency. the bassist jumps up and down manhandling his massive acoustic instrument. 

small interludes between the soprano sax and fiddle(?) crank up the crowd. it’s a friendly competition but the fiddle always gets the last say. 

the audience screams GOATS MILK. 

it’s one of their songs but they don’t play it yet. 

instead, they mention their merch table. CDS and records and t-shirts. the usual. 

except one thing. flash drives. 

every song they’ve ever made. released, unreleased, previously released but taken off the streaming. the whole nine yards. all on the flash drives. 

i turn to my brother.

my favorite album by them, before that all happened, appeared on spotify some day in 2021. and months later, after it filled my evenings and playlists, it was gone. 

at a certain point, i thought i might’ve made it up. 

towards the end of the show, i separate from the crowd. cruise back to the merch table. 

a flash drive? i ask. they say there’s one more. 

so how much? 

*a lot* 


my brother says he will if i don’t. 

does it all go to the band? i ask. 

of course. he says. 

so now they have my money and i have it all. a fair trade i’d say. quite honest.

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