There's a fine line that some music journalists ride that I often wonder whether it's a lie or they really grew up in the hippest parts of America and were listening to Pavement's Slanted and Enchanted before they even entered high school. Or were they listening to Tantric and Live, went to college and acted like the first 18 years of their lives never existed. I'm not sure if it's denial, or I just wasn't that cool when I was their age.
The thing is, I know I wasn't that cool. I still am not.
I remember you telling me what you told me. The first relationship I was ever in. I felt hurt. I felt angry. I told you to get out my car. I quickly sped off. For some reason, the speakers in my car wouldn't turn up loud enough. As I parked the car and walked back to the dorm, I heard you crying in the distance, calling out my name to talk. I didn't want to talk. You said enough for the both of us.
So as much as this past weekend has meant to me seeing bands like Braid, Refused and The Promise Ring. I discovered those bands late in high school or in the case of The Promise Ring, my formidable college years. To me, it doesn't make their music mean any less or more as to when I discovered the band. Each one is just another rung in the ladder.
What really got me this week was my fellow staffer and friend Ryan Gardner's review of Taking Back Sunday's Tell All Your Friends 10th Anniversary Tour here in Austin. Ryan and I have a very significant age difference sitting between us. So when I was in high school rocking out to one of our generation's most influential records, Gardner was nine-years-old. Honestly, I can't even remember what I was listening to when I was 9. Probably the radio? It was my last year of having Leukemia, so that part of my life is a blur in itself.
As my best friend since high school - who was in town for Fun Fun Fun Fest this past weekend - and I pushed through the crowd, there were a lot of young faces mixed with ones my age. Given the fact that Taking Back Sunday's original line-up is now back together, at the age of sixteen, I didn't even get a chance to see this moment until now. (Well, it should be noted that I've seen the guys play together twice since then, but to play an album like this all the way through, is a whole other level of nostalgia.)
I don't remember much from last night. I remember going to bed early, shutting the door to my room while the party continued in my apartment. Now as I'm getting up, I can hear you laughing from the other room. The room of my best friend.
There's something special about an album like Tell All Your Friends. It's a feeling that runs through records like Say It Like You Mean It, Sticks and Stones and all those other heartbreaking records as a teenager. There's probably a Fall Out Boy record in there for some of you. At least sixty percent of the Saves the Day catalog is just an uphill fight about love, loss, rejection and awkwardness. Then there's Deja Entendu, equally rotated with Friends in my younger years.
These albums stick just as much as Usher's Confessions or Copeland's Beneath Medicine Tree. Which, between them, they're the same record really.
What makes me wonder about the longevity of an album like Tell All Your Friends is why it has stuck for so long? Is it the anger and frustration felt through out? Is it everything we want to say, but lack of words thereafter? Is it that in the struggle of relationship after relationship, both platonic and romantic, we've already attached ourselves once to such a record, that it's a comforting reminder of sorts in the years to come? The fact that it stuck through a decade, kid after young kid, the same bullshit and the same feelings. It's incredible really.
I'm pretty exhausted from the weekend so far, but I'm leaning against this empty guitar cabinet thinking of us. Yes, yes Adam, that's exactly what I want to tell her. Now I'm belting it out. I'm 26 standing to the side of this young crowd, and I'm still singing out every perfect quip that I want to text her right now. I wonder when I'll grow out of this.
What really struck me is the look on Gardner's face after the show. It was like the look on my face after seeing Refused, Braid and The Promise Ring this weekend. I saw something I missed out on. Something that meant a lot to me for so many years that I never experience at the time I discovered it. While Refused never wrote an album about heartbreak and pulling yourself out of a personal ditch, each album you hear holds a significance for one reason or another. It could be a sound, it could be the musicianship, it could be the songwriting or it could be a feeling and attachment. There are records in my library that will always be cataloged to a moment in my life for better or worse. The coolest part is how it holds meaning to generations younger than me.
I think, well, what if I was a ladies man. Would all these records mean as much? Would they just be great records laced in excellent songwriting with no personal attachment? Does that make them better or worse then? Does that make me and millions of others understand them more or less than others? In the end, that attachment in any form makes for a special keepsake. That substance in music is why I keep trudging along writing these rants. Somewhere out there, there are a few people who get it, and my story doesn't seem as lame as it does inside my head.
I can feel you getting distant. I feel myself doing the same. The only thing I'll regret is that I never let you hold me back.
I've been spouting off about nostalgia and such for well over a year now. In a way, it kind of makes me feel old. I finally feel "dated" for the first time in my life. Not only in a sense of "When I was your age," but also looking back on all the bands I've still missed before my time of consumption as well as a few bands I missed during that portion of my time when I was really adhering to new music. What's great about a decade passing is there's some sort of adequate timeline to judge your idols against what came after and those that influenced them before. When you're in the moment, like most of the younger users right now, you have no judgement besides "This music speaks to me. I don't care what you think!" As much as I can have my bitter opinion against yours, you should always strive to have that attitude. When ten years comes creeping up on you, and you have that moment to reflect back, I can only advise you this: take it, be judgmental and see who really stuck with you over the years. Which albums still give you chills? Which artists that changed the way you looked at music are continuing to change the way you look at music? These are the important questions to ask yourself among all the subjectivity that we continue to war over.
At the beginning of the month, I had the privilege to be a guest to go see the Taking Back Sunday/Thursday tour in Houston on the Fourth. Besides having a great night enjoying music and not pandering to every detail of "how well the band was performing," it was really about watching two bands that will always be part of my childhood, and one opener that still excels after discovering the band at their EP release show years ago. There's not enough praise I can talk up when it comes to Colour Revolt. From the first time I saw them, to how each record continues to change course yet still continues to captivate with its blend of raw emotion and executed delicacies, Colour Revolt are one of those bands that are held special to more people than you know and without ever getting some sort of larger recognition. It's a shame, because no matter when I see them, they never disappoint in their live show. No matter how big the room I've seen these guys in, their aura always has a way to fill it and turn quite a few silent until applause.
But Colour Revolt came into my life a few years later, and the two big names of the evening were engrained in my blood since I was sixteen and was at that age of simply eating up new music like it was a bottle of Flintstones vitamins and I was on a binge. Thursday was that band for me when it came to the hardcore genre. Before that I had heard and enjoyed essential albums like The Shape of Punk to Come and Relationship of Command, but Full Collapse was a whole other personal level that isn't detachable to this day. On the band's sixth album, this year's No Devolcion, they have simply reminded many of us how far not only the band have pushed themselves in the truest sense of the word "progression" over the years, but that a quieter and more aural feeling can be just as intense as any heavy guitar riff hammocking under a cathartic scream. With cuts mostly from their new album, the band are just as impacting months after doing a run that reminded us why we fell in love with the band's presence in the first place.
While Thursday has mostly kept a steady fan base throughout the years, it's also always been the same five people (sans the pre-Waiting departure of Bill Henderson and the later inclusion of Andrew Everding soon after Full Collapse) and you wonder what it would have been like if the same stayed true of Taking Back Sunday. Even through all the muck, bad relationships and reunions, the last few years that was Taking Back Sunday still has its memorable moments - you can't deny that. There's some great tunes, and there's some not so great ones - that's music! Music certainly thrives on a natural flow not only in what is processed out, it also has to be experienced among the creative outlet. Watching the "newly reformed" original line-up gave me that feeling. No matter how you feel about the band's self-titled as a product judged against your high expectations (or low ones depending), it certainly feels like the most natural sounding record since the beginning. I felt that standing on stage as well. These were men - years later - reflecting not only on their past few years (the band taking part in Straylight Run's "Existentialism on Prom Night" and Nolan of course singing parts not his own from absence), but they were happy in the present moment as well. That's what shined through the most.
What's mainly been rolling around in my head over the past month (and after seeing the current indefinite hiatus of one of my absolute favorite bands of all time that sits a few notches above the aforementioned) is how some of our most cherished bands exhibit the worst behavior in us (see also: the Glassjaw fiasco of the last few years). We're so passionate about holding onto that special something, that there's a bit of feeling in us that makes us become so judgmental. Most older people will tell you that their favorite bands never made the same record twice. For me, that's easily true. At some point when your musical tastes shift, you start to become a crank about how it used to be and how band X sounds like a refurbished version of your favorite band. What I've yet to understand though is that moment when band Z is no longer a rip off, but reminds you why you fell in love with your favorite bands.
Nostalgia will hit us when we least expect it, but it's a net we always seem to fall in that's triggered by an event most notably associated with a past experience acting as your reference of deja vu. I can hear losing my first love in Beneath Medicine Tree, my parents' divorce in Full Collapse, the best times in my senior year of high school in Through Being Cool, moving to Austin in Mean Everything to Nothing, and even further back, I remember my mother playing records while she cleaned the house on Saturday morning anytime I spin Magical Mystery Tour and Led Zeppelin's II. All those feelings have been rushing back to me in the last year, and I think its surely because enough time has passed. Standing on that stage a few weeks ago seeing two bands I not only grew up with - but grew up with - made me feel that sudden rush of nostalgia to the head.
No matter how fleeting your memories will eventually get, it should eventually lead you to finding the bands that influenced your best kept collections, or appreciating a band you once wrote off years down the line. The Taking Back Sunday/Thursday tour has a lot of different meanings to a variety of people. Some of us saw the headliners in small clubs or practice spaces on the weekend, and some of us are thankfully witnessing two bands that keep pushing themselves years later to refine their sound. 2011 has been a great year for music, but we've yet to see what the next ten years will offer us as a whole. I still think we have yet to see if the next generation has picked up on our influences yet. I think 2021 will be quite interesting to reflect back on. I'll be 35. Wow! Maybe they'll have those mini-Pizza Hut pizzas like in Back to the Future II.
This weekend was long. After my interview with The Dear Hunter Saturday night, I had to get up Sunday morning and help put on the hometown show for Taking Back Sunday. Something, where, I didn't know what to expect, but did-- an experience where I saw my once self, and self ahead.
As my once self. I was surrounded by younger fans all day. High school kids who have been doing local promotion. Kids sitting in the sun at 11 a.m. to be first to the stage when gates opened at 6 p.m. I saw my once music loving self. Nostalgic not only to see Taking Back Sunday, a band I grew up with in high school, for the first time ever, as a college graduate, and nostalgic to see how infatuated I once was with the show: being there, getting autographs, singing every word.
This is all something I've sadly grown out of it. I may murmur a few lines here and there, but fist pumps and choruses are a thing of the past for me now.
I saw my future self in the people who I met. The band's TM's and sound crew. Guys who run the show, while you're enjoying it. No, this isn't the first time I've met people like this, nor will it be my last. It was, however the first time I've had long conversations about the industry and their love of music. Like an epiphany, it may have been the first time I was thinking, "Wow! These are the real fans. They're the ones that put up with the business. They put up with the bullshit to give the fans the best for their money."
Now, that seems like a general statement, but running around in the heat making sure things were executed well, and good times were to be had by both the bands and the fans gave me a sense of appreciation for the "business" of the industry. (By the way, I'd like a personal shirt that says, "I changed clothes three times to see Taking Back Sunday." Thanks Louisiana humidity.)
After the controversy that's run thick across this site in the past few days, I have to say this: Hug your industry workers. They're the ones who run the show, so you can sit back and fist pump, screaming your heart out to every word on the record.
Sometimes we forget that this is still a business. You can't please everyone, but 200,000 Myspace friends can't be wrong, right?
love and respect
P.S. --- I'm still a fan, and got to talk to the guys a bit afterward. They were all cool and kind to do this for my nostalgic moment.