In the summer of 2006, John Mayer was scheduled to perform inside a small concrete backyard tucked behind Alife’s Rivington Street store in New York. This was not a music venue. Alife’s backyard was no longer than a subway car, tightly enclosed beneath Lower East Side walk-up apartment buildings, and typically used as a place for smoke breaks rather than a stage for an artist who toured the world. At the time, Mayer had two studio albums out, one that debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, and three Grammy awards. So to perform for free at a small sneaker store in Downtown Manhattan seemed like an odd decision. But for Mayer, it was right up his alley.