I’ve been a fan of Welcome to Night Vale for over three years now, probably closer to four. I’d heard of it through Tumblr and decided to do a little digging for myself. Lo and behold, I was soon converted. I never became a rabid fangirl, but I did eagerly anticipate each new episode.
Somewhere along the way, life happened and I’m currently over a year behind in the new podcast releases. (I know, I know. I’m a terrible fan.) I own the Night Vale novel (and have preordered the second one!), as well as a t-shirt, two pins, a set of Night Vale Boy Scout buttons, and a poster. I’d never attended a live show, though — mostly because I’d never had anyone to attend a live show with. So after Tony took me to see Froggy Fresh, I decided I was going to introduce him to WTNV. And I think we did pretty well.
The venue was this great place called the Lyric Theatre in downtown Birmingham. It was built in the 1900s and restored in 2016. The inside was absolutely gorgeous, but the seating leaved something to be desired. Basically, even though I’m on the short-ish side at 5’5″, I was having issues fitting into these seats without squishing my knees. Tony, clocking in at 6’2″, had an even rougher time. I feel like it was worth it, though. The lobby was pure marble, and there were eight private balcony boxes (which sat four people apiece), as well as one large balcony and floor seating. Tony and I sat in the balcony in Row C, and we had no problems seeing the stage as nobody sat in front of us. Not that they could — there were “tables” sitting in the way.
The opening act was Eliza Rickman, who played the ukelele, some small piano thing, and another strange instrument. She was absolutely brilliant, and I ended up buying two of her CDs, as well as her self-published comic strip and a sticker (which I’ll probably give to my sister). She has a truly haunting voice, and I’m excited to give her CDs a listen!
The main event started about 8:45, with Cecil Baldwin (playing the role of Cecil Palmer, the Night Vale radio station host) coming on stage in a checkerboard suit. While his voice wasn’t as deep/soothing as it was on the podcast (no doubt thanks to radio magic), it was still great. (I know I keep using that word, and that as an English major I should be finding another word to use, but also as an English grad student I’m invoking my privilege to tell you to shut up). Being able to see the radio personality on-stage was enchanting, as you can only imagine what’s going on while listening to the podcast. Here, there were hand gestures (and body gestures) and weird eyebrow raises, not to mention live music all throughout by Disparition (the dude in the red shirt on the left of the stage).
We had a visit from Deb, the sentient patch of haze, her sister Kaitlin, and the great and majestic Glow Cloud himself.
ALL HAIL THE MIGHTY GLOW CLOUD. ALL HAIL.
Anyway. Tony said he thoroughly enjoyed it, and I did as well. This was his introduction to Night Vale, and I hope he chooses to continue to listen. I even picked up a souvenir tour poster alongside the swag from Eliza.
If the Glow Cloud is coming to your city, do yourself a favor and buy yourself some tickets. It’s hilarious and I know you’ll enjoy it. Even if they’re not coming to your city (or if you’re a broke college student), check out the Welcome to Night Vale podcast. If you’re a little weird, you’ll fall in love with it just like I did. I own the first two years’ scripts in book form (which you can find on Amazon easily here and here!), which you can read to catch yourself up or refresh your memory on what’s happening in the ever-so-odd town of Night Vale. Just know they’re no substitute for Cecil’s voice telling you about the town.
You have no idea what you’re getting into.