We laughed, we cried, we filled our hearts with joy thanks to the Nervous But Excited reunion show at the Ark in Ann Arbor.
Nervous But Excited Reunion
While Kate Peterson and Sarah Cleaver may have been feeling somewhat nervous, the audience inside the Ark was amped with excitement for the Nervous But Excited reunion show at the Ark. In some ways, the show at the Ark felt like a family reunion. As we took our seats before the show, the room was filled with a joyful buzz. People were hugging, laughing, and catching up on each other’s lives. We all were joined together by these two amazing artists. All I could think then and now is, what an amazing gift. Besides the music and community, Nervous But Excited offered another gift to those who are deaf, as they had an American Sign Language (ASL) interpreter named Katie on stage.
When Matt Altruda (Tree Town Sound, Sonic Lunch) was introducing Kate and Sarah, he mentioned that he may have squealed with joy upon hearing the announcement. I shook my head in agreement. When I saw the Nervous But Excited reunion show announcement, I ran out to tell Brenda. “Nervous But Excited is playing the Ark! Do you want to go?” I beamed. She looked at me with smiling eyes and said, “Well, hell yeah!”. You see, Brenda has been a fan of Nervous But Excited for years before meeting me. In fact, thanks to her, my first Nervous But Excited experience was at the Ann Arbor Folk Festival in 2010. I was soon hopelessly smitten with Brenda and the music of Nervous But Excited.
The sold-out crowd at the Ark were all hoots and hollers as Sarah and Kate walked on stage. They both were beaming. From the start, we were treated to a show full of love and laughter. Sarah mentioned how it felt like deja vu and joked about how many tears they had cried on the Ark’s stage. Our friend Angie, who loves Nervous But Excited, offered her kleenex. Sarah said we might as well do this now, accepting Angie’s travel pack of kleenex. Angie added she may need them back. Laughter filled the air. This was all in the first few moments of the show. Kate then looked at Sarah, cast a smile, and glanced at the audience before asking, “Should we introduce ourselves?” We laughed even harder.
Starting the first set with “Coffee Stained,” the dynamic synergy of Kate and Sarah radiated into us through the music. Hearing them play, you would never guess that Nervous But Excited hadn’t been constantly together these last ten years. While their lives have taken new roads, their bond is undeniably strong, as we could all hear and see on the stage. Kate and Sarah shared stories of finding each other and forming their bond. The love song to the city where they met, called “Lansing,” was especially emotive.
Kate and Sarah welcomed Susie Giang to the stage to play banjo. Susie is a dear friend and was their manager back in the day. She shared a story about meeting them and how they taught her to hug. Evidently, Sarah is all about the big tight squeeze hug, while Kate is more about the long, long, long hug. As I write this, I know I’m not even close to giving you a sense of how funny this was. Trust me; it was magic. From there, they played “Slow and Steady,” which fit this moment nicely.
Part of what makes a Nervous But Excited show so good is the banter between Sarah and Kate. They can verbally riff as well as create music. As Sarah tried to tune the acoustic guitar, she was side-stepping around a metal water bottle. She said she was trying not to knock over the “Thirst Trap,” which she thought was what the kids today call water bottles. Kate, laughing, said she wasn’t sure that was really what “Thirst Trap” meant. A quick look on Google shows that a Thirst Trap is a post or photo on social media to attract sexual attention to someone. Needless to say, there were many laughs about the “Thirst Trap.”
Because Of A Song
After a brief intermission, Nervous But Excited started their second set with an acapella version of “I Am Willing” by Holly Near. This powerfully emotional song threatened to overwhelm Sarah. Kate moved to her side, and they finished together in strength with a hug. Kate shared that she has been working with Holly Near on an archival site for Women’s music called Because Of A Song. The site will officially launch on December 4th. It will tell the stories of the women who used music to combat homophobia and build a safe community. Kate is a co-producer and used her fabulous skills in website design to build the site.
The entire Nervous But Excited set was jammed with so many fantastic tunes. They played my most favorite song, “Said and Done,” which chokes me up every damn time. “Scars and Anchors” was especially moving as Sarah shared that in her new role as a hospice social worker, she witnesses how love prevails through hardship and loss.
Their cover of Libby Kirkpatrick’s “Crying” with Kate on lead vocals to close out the first set was powerfully charged. Sarah’s voice brought all the heartache to life in “The Leaving.” The cover of “Cecelia” by Simon and Garfunkel had everyone singing along to this strangely uplifting song of heartbreak. The singing and the dancing spilled into the aisles when they finished their second set with “Smaller Taller.”
After a few obligatory seconds off stage with tons of applause from the audience, Kate and Sarah returned to the stage for an encore featuring a cover of Darius Rucker’s “Wagon Wheel” before leaving us the tender loss and hope of “Blank Pages.” Thank you so very much, Kate and Sarah, for sharing your gifts with us.
We’ve got a few more photos from the Nervous But Excited reunion at the Ark in our gallery. Please take a peek and let us know what you think. Leave a comment and show some love by sharing this post.
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