D’Amato | Arte Para Todos | 29 April
If you were there, you will never forget it as long as you live. I’m more accustomed to seeing D’Amato with a massive band, gallivanting around the stage, hyping up the crowd, making us laugh and dance, letting his freak flag fly freely and whatnot. This was an intimate set at Good City Brewing in the closing hours of Arte Para Todos, just the singer accompanied by Rob Weiss on acoustic guitar, and it was a stunning set. As always, Arte was the best damn thing that occurs in Milwaukee. As always, it had been a long weekend, exhausting in every sense; I was wondering if I’d seriously be able to make it through this whole night. This was exactly what I needed; I didn’t have the strength to be up and dancing. I needed something beautiful. D’Amato closed his set with Prince’s “How Come U Don’t Call Me Anymore?”, and I suddenly felt very vulnerable. Prince’s death had come to light on the first day of Arte two years prior, turning what is always an unpredictable roller-coaster of feelings into an even more tumultuous experience. I can’t think about that edition of the festival without getting swept back up into the mindfuck of it all; I can’t even describe it, but I suppose like any lame quasi-fan, it took Prince’s death for me to come to fully appreciate Prince’s music, and the sense of loss was profound and hasn’t exactly left me. D’Amato more than did justice to this song; he embodied it, and the room was suspended in rapt silence as he paused before the final note, when we all heard, from the corridor behind us, the sad, untimely flushing of a toilet. Now, a lesser performer might’ve taken this stoically, pretending it didn’t happen, or he might’ve cracked as the spell broke at the absolute worst possible moment. As I think about it now, that moment felt so long and must’ve felt even longer for D’Amato; out of respect, I think the crowd would’ve valiantly held steady, but he gave just the slightest twitch of rueful acknowledgement, and that was more than we could handle. Knowing that I can return to that moment any time and relive the memory of that joyous communal laughter, tears streaming down my face, makes life a tiny bit easier to bear. When they say laughter is the best medicine, this is the kind they’re really talking about. This was a healing moment. The only reason I ever leave the house at night is chasing after hopes for a moment like this; the memory has become a most powerful talisman, and I hope you all have one like it to ward off the demons in these dark times.