Monday, December 28, 2015

december to remember

you bet your ass i did this. i like mementos as home decor.

it only took me three days to fully recover from my weekend adventure. i consider that a win. (granted, i still have bruises and blisters healing up, but at least i've managed to shake off the "jet lag" and get enough sleep to make up for the entire day that i missed last sunday/monday.)

when you get to the ancient age of 32, you kind of realize that you only really feel okay if you have a consistent sleep schedule. my internal body clock demands that i go to bed between 10:30 and 11 every night, then wakes me up promptly between 7 and 7:30 every goddamn morning. so to say i barely got any sleep while i was away would be an understatement -- i only managed about five hours a night, bookended by probably 1-2 the night before i left (excitement and nerves to blame) and zero the night i came home (blame the bus breakdown).

but seriously, a little over a week removed from my chicago weekend (kill hannah final show recap post! chicago travel blog post! it's nice to have stuff to blog about again) and i'm still really glad i went. i'd actually had to talk myself into going through with it a few times; although obviously i love kill hannah and i wanted to be there for their final shows, the truth of my situation is that i'm a freelancer with not a lot of money in the bank, and certainly not enough to be traipsing off to the states when the canadian dollar is worth 71 cents american. (it also doesn't gain you a whole lot of sympathy when you're moaning about not having any money yet somehow still having enough to spend a weekend at concerts in chicago.) fortunately, though, i was able to knuckle down and cut back on a lot of things, spend a lot of time working, and luck out by having parents willing to throw me some cash as an early christmas present. it was a grind, and i was still a bit paranoid it wouldn't work out, but it did and i'm so happy for that. (even though i got a copy of the "seize the days" dvd detailing their 2008 u.s. tour, i still haven't brought myself to watch it, since i feel like it'll break my heart a little bit to see it now. because i will very likely never see those guys again, and i realized too late how deeply the silly little fangirl in me will miss them.)

mostly what i'm going to remember is standing and laughing amidst the rain of confetti with the music all around me, thinking to myself, some people will never love anything as much as i love this. holy fuck, i'm so lucky.

anyway, christmas: the aftermath!

i'm cheating -- this is the tree at the family home. but isn't it nice? first christmas on the island!

as i mentioned a couple blog posts ago, i forewent spending christmas with my family in kingston in favour of spending my second christmas in a row with my boyfriend in toronto (and also because i used my travel money to go to chicago the weekend before christmas instead). his family are all in england, and he works in retail so he can't get the time off around christmas, which means that it's toronto christmas or bust. this also means that i ended up sending and receiving all my gifts from my family by post; from my father and stepmother, i got the book #girlboss, a new set of apple earbuds, some money and gift cards; from my mother and stepfather, money to partially finance my chicago trip as well as a sephora gift card for the shampoo & conditioner set i needed; from my sister, a set of organic green teas. i felt a little weird receiving all this stuff through the mail instead of face to face - it's sort of impersonal, but it can't be helped - yet it's always a reminder that i'm a very lucky girl, at christmas and all year round.

then it was on to the proper christmas at sean's, with our little charlie brown christmas tree you see above (and all the presents stacked below -- we did well for ourselves, and each other). among many thoughtful presents, i got the philosophy gift set i'd wanted, a bottle of my beloved rumchata, my favourite bath & body works candles, and all the sephora makeup goodies i'd asked for (nars blush, smashbox eyeliner, red cream lip stain, and a cloth eye mask). the amount of not-cheap beauty products i own now is pretty astounding; however, i'm okay with investing heavily in face masks and lotions because, as i learned last weekend, not only does it look like i haven't aged since my twenties, some guys i had just met that night guessed my age at "no more than 28, max". yessssss it's working.

like so:

i highly doubt this is actually 24k gold as advertised, but there's gotta be something to it. and it's pretty, at least. (i got two sets, but they're only available in the u.s.)

i also received this majestic piece of art:

sean knows me so, so well. (he kind of thought i would take this as a gag gift, but i squealed so loudly when i opened it and i definitely plan on mounting it - hee hee - on my bedroom wall. #mybucky.)

we then spent christmas day doing absolutely nothing (aside from calling both our families, of course). we had breakfast and booze:

and then we settled in to watch avengers: age of ultron (second time for me, and still not all that good, sadly) and the nightmare before christmas, eat snacks, play video games, and cuddle. early bedtime, since sean had to be up suuuuuper early the next day to work the boxing day sales, and thus another holiday comes to a close. we don't need to do the whole family bonding thing or instagram-worthy big dinner or playing with kids or dogs; we really just need each other, and a day at home to chill. that's all.

that's not even all for december, though -- wednesday night is the second wwe house show for us this year (i blogged about the first one here), and then it's new year's eve/day, and then we're into 2016, a year that will give us captain america: civil war, the return of our cackling anti-hero seth rollins, sean's twin brother's wedding in england, and hopefully full-time employment for me.

see you all next year! ha ha i'm funny.

[ music | none ]

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

glitter in the darkness

let's go, chicago travel blog!

i was asked yet again on this trip: "why chicago?" as in, what makes me keep coming back again and again? why do i love it so much that i even got the city's flag tattooed -- even though i've never lived there and most likely never will? and you know, i can only ever give half-assed answers -- i like the architecture; the food is great; one of my oldest and dearest friends lives there and i like visiting him and his wife; the shopping is awesome. but it is more than that, and i know it, and i just can't explain it. it's like a thrumming in the blood, a feeling that you're home and this is where you belong. and holy shit, i miss it fiercely when i haven't been in a while. this was my first time back since fall 2013, and you can bet i was super excited to be there.

why the long absence? well, i'm a freelancer, which means i have to make enough money to pay my bills and also the entirety of my rent, since i live alone. that doesn't leave me a lot of cash for fun travel. fortunately, i know how to do chicago on a shoestring; it involves a 12-hour bus ride there and back, plus staying at a hostel downtown (or, if i get lucky, crashing at my friend's place just west of the loop) and either walking or taking public transit instead of cabs. i've done this so many times by now that it's nowhere near daunting to me, and honestly, i'm just happy that i still can do a chicago trip. it's only a couple of mega-long bus rides and a few nights sleeping in a bunk bed in a dorm room. i can survive without frills. (although once for a business trip, i flew in and out of chicago within 24 hours and stayed in a suite at the hard rock hotel that overlooked the magnificent mile. it felt insanely decadent to me, who's used to the above "on a shoestring" scenario.)

so yeah, shoestring: i left toronto at 8 a.m. thursday and got in at 8:30 that night (note that chicago is on central time, so i gain an hour), and checked in for my three-night stay at hi-chicago, the hostel downtown. and dudes, i really, really like the hostel. it's cheap - usually no more than $38 american a night - and it's centrally located, which makes it the best. you won't find better value for that location, i can tell you. as for all the stuff that people are iffy about when it comes to hostels - sharing a room (and bathroom) with strangers chief among them - they don't bother me. it's just a place to sleep for me, after all. i lucked out this time too, with some really great roommates -- a girl from china who was currently studying in philadelphia, two other girls also from china who were there to sightsee, a pair of aussies, and a german. none of them minded that i was coming in at like 1:30-2 a.m., and everyone slept like rocks. perfect.

regardless of the late nights in, i was also getting up pretty early every day, because i wanted to have time to shop and roam around before i decamped to the show venue (which was wayyyyyy north of the downtown core) on friday and saturday. also, i needed to eat something once in a while, and again with the shoestring -- aside from my friday splurge at xoco, for the rest of the trip i was limited to salads from pret and protein bars i'd brought from home. and lots and lots of coffee.

the mentioned splurge at xoco -- a chorizo egg torta (delicious messy pressed sandwich with chorizo, scrambled egg, avocado, salsa, and melted queso fresco) with a freshly made churro and a cup of their aztec hot chocolate. i try to grab this breakfast (the torta is only served until 10 a.m.) at least once whenever i'm in chicago, because it's all i dream about when i'm home.

so even though i was doing this on a budget, i did budget out for some purchases, because why the fuck wouldn't you? "every time i see you, you've always been shopping!" said one of my aussie roommates with a laugh, and she was kinda right -- i was trooping in every morning with bags and boxes. i even did the cheesy souvenir shop route this time, mostly to pick up little tchotchkes for the boy - our usual cheesy travel magnet, a tiny snowglobe of downtown chicago - as well as a chicago flag pin for myself, and as a last-second purchase, this t-shirt:

i couldn't resist, especially since i didn't end up buying any shirts at the kill hannah shows (all they'd had left was smalls and extra-larges, and i'm a medium forever). that's three shirts i own now that have stuff i've gotten tattooed on them! what can i say, i like making my fandom of things obvious.

as many of you know, i have a weird affinity for trader joe's, the america-only grocery store whose fans are pretty much cultlike. hello, it me. i regularly go to a tj's at least once every day when i'm in america, and this trip was no exception. this time, i came away with my usual bunch of groceries, including four cans of their tuna in oil (best for topping salads), crunchy cookie butter, two jars of peanut butter with flax & chia seeds, three bars of my favourite dark chocolate with sea salt & caramel, a bag of mini dark chocolate peanut butter cups, and more. (another of my typical stops, binny's, got me two relatively cheap bottles of one of my favourite flavoured vodkas that you can no longer get in canada -- pinnacle's whipped cream vodka. it's hilariously frou-frou, but it's all i drank during my breakup in 2012.) beyond that, i picked up some more america-only snacks to bring home - including a few bags of honey nut chex mix - and these, bags of mariano's housemade chicago mix popcorn:

it's not all for me, i swear -- the boy loves chicago mix (i introduced it to him, naturally), and mariano's makes the best i've ever had, so i wanted to get him the ridiculous almost two-pound bag while the smaller one is for me. it was basically my dinner on saturday night.

also, if you've never been to a different country during the holiday season, do it. especially america -- it's such a fucking trip. they go balls out for the holidays and it's just amazing to behold. the window displays at macy's put the bay's to shame.

i was out at the malls on state street a lot because i was trawling for my current addiction, sephora -- i actually had three gift cards for sephora that were only good in the united states (they were e-gifts from sean's parents, not knowing that the e-cards don't work in canada), so i wanted to blow those out before i left. i came back with a philosophy bath set that isn't available in canada, two peter thomas roth mini-mask sets that also aren't available in canada, new face lotion that i needed, and a perfume rollerball that i'd wanted. these purchases also vaulted me into the highest echelon of sephora's customer loyalty program, so now i get all kinds of perks for the next year, including free shipping and free mini-makeovers. this could be dangerous.

travelling along the aforementioned state street, you'll find these clusters of light globes that slowly change colour, and also play old-timey christmas music from speakers hidden somewhere. a good example of how chicago's art and architecture is fucking gorgeous, and i never get tired of gazing at my surroundings when i'm walking around downtown.

speaking of walking, it's also always both awesome and strange to me how well i know the city -- it's like an internal compass. i know exactly which streets to take to get to where i want to go. this time, though, i got to conquer a new adversary: the subway system. i didn't tell my parents about this beforehand, because i knew they'd be displeased and worried, but for one, i knew i could do it, and for two, i just didn't have the $30-40 it would cost to take a cab. the subway was $2.25. done. i ain't scare.

the next day (after i got back to the hostel safe and sound, obviously), my other aussie roommate ominously told me that "chicago is the murder capital of america" (which is true as of 2014, h/t to ruhee for finding that piece), but i feel like that includes nearby rockford, which actually is on the fbi's top ten most dangerous cities in america. i've spent a couple days in rockford and it's not all that bad, but anyway. the point is, my roomies were all astonished that i'd taken the subway alone - at night - in the murder capital of america. (then i did it again the following night, except drunk. that might not have been as smart, but whatever, i successfully did it.)

i had this same issue before i even left toronto -- family and friends were very concerned about me going to one of america's biggest cities, because terrorism, gun crime, random acts of violence, etc. but here's the thing -- i'll be cautious, of course, but i'm not going to be afraid. once you start being afraid, you'll never go anywhere. i could get randomly hit by a bus tomorrow. i could get randomly stabbed in my own city. anything can happen the minute you step out of your door. sure, maybe the probability goes up in a place like chicago, but that's not gonna stop me from visiting any time soon. i have a good idea where the not-so-great areas of town are, and they're not even close to where i usually stay or explore. like, i was taking the subway up and back from wrigley field, which is mostly populated with fun pubs and yuppies and sports fans. plus, as adam noted, it's christmastime, which means it won't be deserted out there. so like, i was cautious, sure, but i wasn't worried. i just kept thinking about how tourists in toronto probably feel the same way, and man, i have never, ever been fucking afraid to live here. it's my home, and chicago is my spiritual home, and i won't be afraid of it, either. (though i do dislike worrying my parents so much. i called them both when i got back to toronto and the sound of relief in their voices was palpable.)

enough of the depressing statistics -- here's some photos from my sunday explorings:

the roofs of the christkindlmarkt, the giant european-style open air christmas market chicago has downtown every year. i'd never been before, and i didn't stay long - i don't like schnitzel or crowds - but it was fun to say i'd checked it out, at least.

the massive city christmas tree at millennium park. it looks nicer when it's all lit up at night, but i didn't have time in the evenings to grab a photo since i was running up to the show venue, so this will have to do.

the bean! everyone knows the bean. cloud gate has one of the best backdrops for a photo ever -- like, look at that gorgeous downtown. i literally cannot even.

the skating rink at millennium park, just below the bean. perfect day for it.

weirdly, this time around, i really got a lot of flashbacks of the third time i ever visited chicago. although i'd been twice before - both for kill hannah shows, of course - they were only ever 24-hour trips. i'm serious. i came in, saw the concerts, then left. but the third time i came, it was for lollapalooza in august 2006, and i actually had the entire weekend. so although i'd paid $200 for a lolla pass, i actually ended up skipping a lot of the acts (except for, obviously, kill hannah on day 2) in favour of exploring downtown chicago instead. and man, i just fell in love with the place. i can't describe it any other way. i think pretty much everybody's felt that about a city at some point in their lives, and i only get that feeling twice: when i'm in toronto, and whenever i'm in chicago. they're the two cities for me. (unfortunately, the choice of where to live is kind of made for me, since i'm a canadian citizen and can't live in the united states without an expensive visa. so maybe it's the "forbidden-ness" of chicago that makes it even more appealing to me -- the grass is always greener, etc.)

but that third time was just magic, and it kept me coming back again and again. less than a year later, i went out on tour with the black halos and became good friends with guitarist adam, who just happened to live in downtown chicago. so now i usually had a place to crash when i visited, not to mention someone i could visit with. this gave me even more reason to keep coming back to chicago, sometimes up to three times a year.

however, making all these trips between 2004 and 2015 leaves me with a lot of weird flashbacks and feelings whenever i come to chicago, as well as an odd sense of longing for my early twenties, when i first fell in love with the place. i was thinking about this on the bus ride home on sunday night, and how different i was when i was younger. like, i was fucking driven, man. driven and energetic and hopeful for the future in the way you only are when you're 20, 21, 22 years old. chicago was my first taste of freedom when it came to travelling on my own - to a different country! - and i can really remember how much i loved what i was doing in those days. i was a music journalist, and i thought it would be my career one day. the musicians knew my name. i was almost done university. it was a tangible sense of things getting ready to begin -- like my life was going to start at last, and i would be someone special, an exception to every rule. but again, who doesn't feel like that when they're in their early twenties? you feel immortal, and you feel like nothing will ever change. maybe that's another reason why i love chicago so much -- i'm not there enough to really see it change, so it's always a same familiar place for me to come back to. i have so few of those in my life, now.

oh, yeah. and the bus ride back.

look, i don't blame greyhound. sometimes you get stuck with a bus that's being held together with sellotape. in this case, it was a bus with headlights that inexplicably stopped working just after the stop in kalamazoo, forcing us to pull over at a truck stop and wait for a repairman to come out and fix it.

long story short, it didn't get fixed. and we were sitting in that bus in a rainy michigan parking lot for five hours.

once a spare bus was sent from detroit (two and a half hours away) to fetch us, i had already missed my 1 a.m. transfer to toronto (it was 3:30 a.m. at this point), so i had to stick around the detroit bus station for an additional hour and a half before i could get the 7 a.m. bus home. at this point, i'd been awake for well over 24 hours, i'd read two books, my eyeliner was running, and i wanted to die. or go home. either/or.

fortunately, customs was fast, the ride through ontario was fast - even though they were behind schedule by an hour and a half, story of my goddamn life by now - and i finally dragged my exhausted gross ass into a cab in downtown toronto at 2 p.m., eight hours later than intended. of course, i didn't fail to see the irony in that, while i was very conscious not to get injured while in the united states (even though i'd bought travel health coverage for those four days), as soon as i got out of the cab at my own apartment in toronto, i fell on the slippery sidewalk and gashed my right knee open. yuuuuuuup. (no photos, because it's really gross.)

so! that's the story of my most recent travel adventure to chicago. i'm definitely already considering next year's trip - i didn't get to see adam as much this time, and i want a proper visit with my old black halo brother - and although as i said in the previous blog post, it'll never again be for a kill hannah show, it'll still mean a lot to me. because chicago is home. even with all the murder.

happy holidays, friends -- see you on the other side of the christmas madness.

[ music | cut copy, "lights and music" ]

Monday, December 21, 2015

goodnight, goodbye

so. instead of spending my christmas vacation going home to see my family, i took the bus to chicago alone to see the end of one of my favourite bands.

(advance warning: this is going to be long. there will be pictures to break up the wall of text. also, i'm going to do a separate blog post soon about my trip to chicago proper, because holy shit i love talking about chicago)

i don't think i need to recap how much i love kill hannah. you guys know me, so you know. i've blogged about it a lot. i loved them fiercely when i was in my early twenties -- enough so that i got their logo tattooed and trooped off to see them play in detroit and chicago repeatedly before they finally started playing canadian shows in toronto and montreal. i was usually there, dancing up a storm and singing my heart out in front row. it was my first post-dave/moist band thing, and it was one that belonged to me and only a couple of my girlfriends. (kill hannah weren't well-known in canada back in the mid-2000's, so we always felt a little special because it was like we found them first.)

but kill hannah have been around for a long time, and things change. i didn't have the money or time to travel to see them as we marched towards the 2010's, but i still do have a ton of memories and paraphernalia at home -- autographed set lists, posters, and breathless old archived blog posts where i gushed about how amazing their shows were and how awesome a time i had. then over the years, there were fewer albums released and less tour dates, save for the annual one every year -- the new heart for xmas show. i'd only been to one - new heart II, way back in december 2004 - because new heart traditionally happened in the band's hometown of chicago the weekend before christmas, and i was generally tied up with work and family commitments.

not this year. i cleared my fucking slate, because they had announced that this would be the last new heart as well as the final kill hannah show, ever. i had to be there for this. i had to pay my respects to the guys whose music soundtracked so many happy times in my twenties.

i reserved my tickets all the way back in the summer, and last weekend the time finally came to get on the bus and go say goodbye. i left for chicago on thursday and crashed the night in the downtown hostel, hoping to get enough sleep because friday was night 1 -- there would be a short acoustic set for wristband holders, then a full "deep cuts and fan favorites" set later. it was going to be a late night, and i wanted to be goddamn ready to channel my 20-year-old self.

you know what my 20-year-old self was infamous for doing, besides running away with rock bands? getting to the venue at an ungodly early hour and standing it out for the entire day. so that's what i did, but maybe not as bad as the early days of the 5 a.m. lineups -- instead, the acoustic set was at 6:30, so i went up to the metro for 3. i was pretty near the front of the line, but unfortunately "doors at 6 p.m." turned into "doors at 7" and it was suuuuuper cold outside. i'm pretty hardy about this sort of thing - i once got frostbite on my face after waiting outside all day in a snowstorm for a david usher show - but even i was shaking and shivering by 5. when we finally got let in, i feel like we were all more grateful for the warmth than anything else.

acoustic set!

(i was standing second-row centre for this, even stubbornly hanging on to my spot while the band members circulated the back of the room doing a meet & greet.) don't look for set lists from me, sadly -- my memory isn't that good, and i don't want to be writing the songs down in my phone all night. but there was an especially great rendition - with strings! - of "10 more minutes with you" as well as "goodnight, goodbye" which just killed me. also, mass a cappella singalong from the audience on "sad eyes." mat looked genuinely touched and it was like an emotion bomb to the solar plexus, man.

so this wrapped up in under an hour, and then it was...kind of a wait, really. the next set wasn't until 11 or so, but at least the openers (MXMS and shiny toy guns, with tommie sunshine DJing in between -- holy flashback to new heart II) kept things awesome. by this point, i'd also ninja'd my way to front row centre, so i was extra excited (and also hanging on to my spot on the barrier for dear life).

and man. this glorious show.

again, my memory is so shot - especially when it comes to remembering which of the two full shows had which songs - but i do remember that on this first night, they played "the trains are so loud," the eponymous "kill hannah" (which i'd never heard live and always wanted to), "all that he wants" (which mat prefaced by announcing that this would be "the last time this song will ever be played"), a crowd-accompanied "believer," the sheer wall of sound that is "the trains are so loud," and the much-demanded yet rarely played "sick boy" (which was likely one of the best songs of the weekend, despite mat's professed trepidation about playing it) -- as well as all the big singles, of course. and it was just so, so monumentally great to be there in front row once again, singing at the top of my lungs and dancing around and losing my mind with all the other fans of every age and gender. it was bittersweet, but amazing.

after the encore when mat was thanking us all for being there, he also thanked us for still being fans "even when it might not have been the popular choice," and that's stuck with me. as a music critic, i have taken a lot of shit from people over the years for my love of kill hannah. colleagues, friends, boyfriends, other musicians, you name it -- many of them have laughed or sneered at me when i named them one of my big favourites. and i've always gotten mad, defensive of my boys. i was always so proud to be a fan of theirs, to have their logo inked under my skin for the rest of my life. i don't do that for every band i love, you know.

anyway, it was about 1:30 a.m. when i finally got out of there, my voice completely shot from screaming and singing and my knees totally bruised from the barrier and my feet covered in blisters. emotionally drained but happy, i headed back off into the night to take the downtown train to the hostel and get some much-needed sleep. exeunt me.

night 2! aka the final show, new heart for xmas 10, saturday december 19th.

this is the only pic i took on saturday, because i chose to stand at the back by the soundboards rather than claim a front row spot again. someone else deserved a turn, plus i'd only ever seen kill hannah from first or second row, and i wanted to hear all the sound for their last-ever gig. sure, it meant i wouldn't get any photos, but i still chose to be on the floor rather than the balcony, because i wanted to be in the thick of it.

some of the same songs as the previous night (the big singles, "kill hannah," "the songs that saved my life") but even more that hadn't been played one night 1 -- "the chase," "crazy angel," and "hummingbirds the size of bullets" (probably my favourite kill hannah song of them all) notable among them. also, lots of the old traditions: the mass hand-waving during "raining all the time," the fake snow (tufts of foam this time) raining down during "new heart for xmas," confetti cannons, the crowd losing their shit at the "lips like morphine" encore (for pretty much forever i assumed "kennedy" was the top single, but i guess not), and more. it felt good to be back with my people.

this was also the night for waterworks. i cried during "black poison blood" and again at "promise me," and then absolute tears at the finale when mat was explaining that the band may be over but it's not dead, because it'll live on in all of our hearts. and that reminded me of why i've always loved musicians so much - because as artists, they make something that will last forever. it's the closest thing we have to immortality. i can't not respect that.

but anyway, all the guys had some final words of thanks for the support over the years, and it was super emotional up there. and then, geez. they absolutely tore into very end: confetti and snow foam falling from the ceiling, the crowd cheering and laughing and crying and singing, mat standing in the strobe lights in the jesus christ pose, the music of their final song ("welcome to chicago, motherfucker" obviously) swelling to a crescendo. pure, electric joy. and all i could think was, this. this was what I'd been looking for, what i'd been missing for all these years. it felt like coming home, like being exactly where you need to be, witnessing something that signifies the end of an era and the close of something that meant so much to you when you were just coming into your own. it felt like closing the book definitively on a chapter of my halcyon days. (as i would wistfully say to guitarist dan in parting later on, "we had some good times, you know? we had some really good times.") because whatever i am, i'm still and will always be the girl in the front row, the one who loves rock bands.

so then there was the wait for the after-party to begin, where a ton of us just hung around waiting for the band to come out for autographs and pictures. one guy came over and said he'd seen me in "front row, dead centre" the previous night, and asked how i'd managed to get up there. i shrugged and smiled. "i've been doing this for over half my life." ain't that the truth.

i'd come this far (one of the merch girls commented on how far i'd travelled for the show, but there were fans from england there, so i didn't quite win the prize on that one), so i didn't want to leave until i'd had a moment with my faves, and hell yes, i got them: hugs from bassist greg (who asked where I was living now - still toronto, one of their first canadian fans, which he dutifully noted, and i laughed about spending 12 hours on a bus), guitarist dan (my favourite member of the band, who gave me the best hug ever and claimed that i look "exactly the same" as i did 11 years ago), and frontman mat, who said "oh my god!" and hugged me while saying that he'd seen me in the front row the previous night. good to know i still stand out as a fangirl having a meltdown right up in front, haha.

anyway, many years touring with bands made me know to have my moment then move along, and i was happy for all the other fans eagerly hanging around for their moment. everyone gets to be the special fan for at least a few minutes. if a band takes the time to do that, they're one of the good ones, and kill hannah always, always were.

so with this business done plus three vodka sodas and a shot of malört (that article is outstanding and accurate, by the way -- "They're like, 'here, drink this!' And you do it and you're like, 'What the fuck?' You don’t understand what's going on, and there's a tire fire in your mouth for the next half hour, and you can't taste anything, and you're twitching on the floor."), i was ready to go back to the hostel and sleep it off. i'm still proud of myself for forgoing cab fare and taking the $2.25 subway ride back downtown instead. like a real chicagoan! (again, i wish.) but then i got back to the hostel and i had to try and fall asleep with the drunk spins. have you ever had those in a bed that's not your own, and then woken up hungover in a foreign city? it's the woooorst. (also, at some point in the night i lost my kill hannah hoodie, which would have bothered me a lot more if i didn't already have two other identical ones at home. someone got a free hoodie!)

upon later reflection, it was all a bit weird and sad to do it alone. all of my old kill hannah fan-friends have either moved on or i've fallen out of touch with them, but whatever the case, i was reminded of that old adage "a joy shared is a joy made double." and it's true! it's fun hanging around and seeing a great show and chatting with the band afterwards, but it's even better if you're doing it with a friend who's a big fan too. but, them's the breaks. i have no issue going to shows alone, and it wasn't like i wouldn't have gone if i didn't have anyone to go with. a lot of people missed out, though.

as i was leaving yesterday, it struck me that, although this definitely won't be my last time in chicago, i will never again excitedly take a bus 12 hours to chicago to see a kill hannah show. and that made me sad right down to my bones. of course, it's not like they're dead or hate each other or anything - and they were quick to rule out the notion that they will never, ever reunite for a one-off or something - but it's like, there's still finality to that. but look, i've been a band girl for so long that i understand that's how it goes. in cases like a band break-up, it really is better to burn out than fade away.

i can say that they meant a lot to me, but really, they meant a lot to so many people -- singing big anthemic songs about weirdos and outcasts, desperate love, living fast and dying young. it resonated, you know? the music was so great, and the guys were always just complete sweethearts to us giddy fans. we were so lucky to have them for the time that we did.

anyway, that's it for me on this monumental, melancholy pair of final gigs. i've got some work to do now that i'm home in toronto, but as i said earlier, i'm going to type up a travel blog post about my chicago fun times as well, so look for that in a couple days if you are massively bored before the holidays and avoiding the shopping malls. (edit: voila!)


[ music | none ]

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

like neon love

alright! so, here we go: tomorrow morning, i'm up at 5:30 a.m. to shower, get ready and finish packing, then it's off to the bus station at 7 to get the 8:30 a.m. bus to chicago. it's going to be different than i'm used to; this one is a daytime ride, and i've always taken the overnight express (both still transfer in detroit, though). but it's going to be cool to see the trip in daylight, and to get in at a reasonable hour. the idea of being on a bus literally all day doesn't deter me; i've got so many ebooks loaded up on my kobo, you wouldn't believe it. (also, after so many years of travelling for and with rock bands, i am absolutely used to crazy long road commutes. it also helps that i'm a really, really bad flier, so air travel is generally out of the question and also too expensive.)

my two biggest hopes right now are that 1) i get a reasonable amount of sleep this weekend (i'm at the point in my life where overtired looks less "punk-rock cute" and more "super fucking haggard") and 2) the weather not be complete shit. the last time i did this trip around this time of year, the roads were garbage (multiple cars in the ditch!), the buses were super late, and i nearly got frostbite on my face. i would much prefer it if the roads were clear and the weather was temperate enough for me to do lots of my usual roaming around downtown chicago. i'm still wearing/packing a shit-ton of layers anyway.

not pictured: scarf, thermal socks & long johns, extra pair of gloves to go under these gloves

i've ruminated on this before, but it's always so interesting to me how much pocket-sized technology i'm able to bring on my travels these days. it's not like i was a frequent traveller in the dark ages or anything, but i remember being in chicago in 2006 and only being able to upload photos from the hostel's computers, and i remember lugging my laptop around new york in 2010 so i could update my blog, and i remember - on that same trip - my phone completely dying because i had nowhere to plug it in on the bus overnight, and i had to drag my exhausted ass to the nearest starbucks just so i could be in contact with the outside world again. now, i can simply bring my ipad to update stuff with (though i won't be doing so on this trip, since i'm too worried it'll get wrecked, lost or stolen, and i love my ipad), all the buses are equipped with outlets and sometimes wifi, i have a small portable battery pack to keep my devices charged on the go, and i can use my smartphone anywhere to do anything. the future! it's pretty cool, man.

the entire plan for the four-day trip:
  • see kill hannah's final shows (two on friday, one on saturday - read the blog post i wrote about them back in august here)
  • cry a lot
  • hang out with adam
  • eat a chorizo torta at xoco
  • shop everywhere (but mostly trader joe's)
i have my plan of attack mostly mapped out, of course, and i'm going to be coming back with a lot of delicious american groceries as well as a bunch of america-only sephora products (i've been hanging on to a sephora gift card that's only good in the u.s. for over a year now). the fun doesn't stop when i get home, either, because within a few days it'll be christmas, and then a week after that is the second wwe house show this year. so, suffice it to say, i'm really looking forward to this trip kicking off the next couple weeks of good times. i've been more or less working for the last six months straight to make all this happen, after all.

look for frequent-ish (ie. whenever i'm somewhere with free wifi) photospam over on my tumblr or instagram, though the pics will probably show up when i do a recap post about my trip after i'm back on monday.

aaaaaaaand i'm off!

[ music | cut copy, "future" ]