The calm before the storm. It was dark except for a single illumination burning like a lighthouse before the break. The tide is out now but sure to come in at any moment, and with it a thrilling hurricane of energy that will engulf all that come to observe. The sound is more felt than heard as the bass surges through with an entrancing rhythmic cadence. Inevitably the tide begins to come in and slowly yet deliberately picks up speed. The vibrato changes with the onslaught. The sound becomes more familiar as what was anticipated comes to fruition. A crashing thunder erupts, reaching a crescendo that touches the heavens themselves.
There he is. Eyedea, aka Michael Larson, steps into the light like a beacon guiding weary sailors to a safe port. A storm that has been steadily building finally breaks as people rush the stage as waves crashing on the rocks. A maelstrom of arms reaches out to the light as if to pull themselves from Poseidon’s grasp. Soon smoke billows through the venue, a mist, acrid and choking. Roars of voices climb higher and higher as he reaches out to touch the microphone. Broad across his unshaven face, a smile shows a gap of broken teeth. “I freestyle life” is inscribed across his dark shirt. Dark hair rests down to his eyes, brown and deep.
This is it, the moment that they have waited for. Hearts pound in chests as sweat begins to bead. Though he hasn’t yet spoken, a frenzy of souls drown in his mere presence, lost in the maw of this tsunami that is Michael. They are no longer people. No longer individuals. Just a sea of passion risen by his tide.
The first words cut through: “A prince in practiced moans for the attention that he wants”—words known by every member of the congregation, the song that touched so many and introduced many more to this art. “Smile” is the track that exemplifies this man they have raised to heights no mortal could ever dream of attaining. Yet his work shows a humility rarely shown by those of lesser talent. “But most of this town won’t even dignify his ignorance with a response,” the song continues, somehow touching each and every one individually, speaking to each person as if the only person spoken to is them.
The show continues to ebb and flow. Masterfully the tide rises then lowers to a calm, intimate in every action, every movement, every connection, as with great skill he keeps the waters moving from a peaceful flow to a torrent, but constantly moving. The hard façade erodes like limestone, leaving pillars of the soul to stand the eons.
At the completion of the symphony comes a favorite for anyone who has dealt with loss, “Hay Fever.” “There’s no hell more harsh than a memory. There’s no home more hell than an empty nest. Winter takes the warm away, spring takes the cold away. Summer takes the rain away and fall took away my friend.” Somber can barely describe the emotion that seeps out through the words. With that finale, tranquility would ease back to that small venue in the heart of Salt Lake City.
Little did these fans know the bitter irony that within a year they would be using this final song to comfort their loss. On October 10, 2010, Michael David Larson would pass from this world to swirl in the heavens for the rest of eternity. “And you will be missed.”