Monday, March 20, 2017

both never to come back

(originally written on sunday march 5, 2017)

so last night i saw the tea party, my original favourite band, play live for the first time in ages.

i've probably mentioned it before - because it is fucking hilarious - but they were the second band i ever interviewed, as well as the first band i ever interviewed in person. imagine that you're 20 years old and you've only been a music writer for maybe three months before you get sent to go conduct a one-on-one interview with the band whose albums made you fall in love with music. my nerves were shot to hell but i was so, so goddamn excited. (i kept thinking about the tea party poster that had been on my wall throughout my teenage years, and how the first ever "real" rock concert i saw was the tea party playing brockville riverfest in 2000 - who'd have thought, four years later...)

but the interview went swimmingly, despite my nerves on the outset - i've even pulled up the transcript and the caliber of questions 20-year-old me is asking are fairly impressive - and i even ended up interviewing them twice more in the years that followed. they remembered me every time. it was a real delight, and honestly, after that milestone was reached pretty much all of my interviews were cakewalks after. (i still got the nerves for dave gahan from depeche mode and nikki sixx from motley crue, though.)

so that was the majority of my background with them, and although they haven't been touring for years, when i found out they were doing a special night in celebration of the 20th anniversary of my favourite of their albums - 1997's transmission - i had to get my ticket. on the way to the danforth music hall, i kept trying to recall how many times i've seen them live, but holy shit, i couldn't even remember. i mean, at least three or four times over the years.

the good news was that their stage show in 2017 was still as awesome as ever, with a huge wall of sound and incredible technical skill. the first half was indeed the entirety of transmission, although played out of order, and it sounded just as good as it always has - honestly, the full album is amazing, one of those rare works where every single song is playable, no skipping required. then there was a brief intermission before the band came back and played a shorter set of non-transmission hits, including "fire in the head", "save me" (which i have honestly never, ever liked but whatever), "the messenger", and the usual covers of "paint it black" and "heroes". plus i swear i haven't listened to "sister awake" in, fuck, probably a decade? yet i still remembered every word, like a muscle memory. so good.

i also sat up in the reserved seating in the balcony, for once, because ugh holy shit i didn't need to be down in the pit. once upon a time, i would have refused anything but being directly in the center of the action (or the front row, obviously), but nowadays i pick my battles, and i decided i could do with a balcony view this time.

it felt a bit hilarious being there in that crowd, though, regardless of where i was in the venue:

i try really, really hard, you guys.

overall, though, i had a great time - although i can't lie that it felt like a cleansing of sorts, but it also felt deeply sad to me. because i'm not who i used to be, and being at live shows really brings that forward for me, with all the memories and the ghosts.

see, here's a secret: i rarely ever go see live bands anymore. i know, i know - me, who's got all forms of music tattoos and used to live for the bands and the nightlife, just...stopped. it's at the point where it makes me really wistful and melancholy, even, to go out to shows now - because it brings back so many memories, and just reminds me of a time in my life when it was my entire world, and i was so happy for it. but it's borderline painful for me to do it now.

why did i drop out of the scene? because as i told a friend last year, it's got to be all or nothing for me. i can't be half-in and half-out; i have to be fully in or not at all. and by the time i broke up with my old boyfriend in 2012 and, you know, carried on with the stuff i did after, i made my exodus from the scene. it became way too difficult to be half-in it. i felt like a weird pariah for what i'd done, and like i didn't belong anymore, despite devoting a good ten years of my life to live music and the bars and the boys and the front row. they say you need to reclaim your spaces after a breakup; in 2012-13, i rescinded them. those spaces belonged to the boys in the band; i, a lapsed groupie rapidly reaching her best-before date of 30 years old, was only ever visiting.

this all ties into the fact that i had a moment last month, where i was out on my balcony drinking at sunset, and when i turned to go back inside i was struck with the sudden thought of oh god, am i still me?

because look: we're all composites of our past experiences. we're all made up of the things that have happened to us, and the things we've gone through to bring us to where we are today. the future has no bearing on our current selves, so we have to make do with having our pasts be the building blocks of our identity.

but here's the thing, the very thing i've struggled with lately: the idea that you do change over the years, and that the person you once were is no longer the person you are now. i'm not just talking in a physical sense with aging and everything, i mean motivations and driving forces and beliefs and entire lifestyles. it might just be me, because i'm a weirdo, but do you ever think back on your childhood and realize that you - yes, you - lived it? it wasn't just some movie or tv show you watched at some point - it was actually your life that you lived.

and really, what bothers me deeply is that i am so far from the person i was 10-15 years ago, to the point where i doubt i'd recognize myself now. and if i'm being very honest, i'm pretty sure the me of 10-15 years ago would have fallen on her sword if she knew that one day, everything she held dear would mean less to nothing at all.

am i still the person i was when i thought i would never change? what happens when the foundation you built yourself on ends up crumbling over time? what happens when your past wrote cheques that your present can't cash?

anyway, that's all.

[ music | phantogram, "nothing but trouble" ]