One of the best investments we made while travelling was a Spotify subscription (see what else we couldn’t do without here). Road trips require music, and Spotify provided our soundtrack to the USA.
We rolled across the country in a pure time warp – one heavy on the 90s grunge, pop and not-so-gangsta rap (Will Smith, yo). Listening to tracks that I hadn’t heard in years stirred up all sorts of memories, reminding me how powerfully evocative music can be, and how strongly I associate some songs with certain people or periods of time.
The soundtrack to my life would have to include:
Recall: Long hours lying on my bed, caught up in the rapture that is John Frusciante’s effortless golden licks and Anthony Kiedis’ smooth vocals, combined into one sublime package.
Inextricably linked with Year 8 school camp – forest walks, French toast, canned spaghetti and evening team games.
Basically sums up every one of my childhood crushes ever.
So I look in your direction/but you pay me no attention/do you?
The perfect song to listen to on repeat when trying to get over one of those painful crushes.
My ex introduced me to Blue Oyster Cult, for which I am very grateful. (And T introduced me to this related SNL skit, which is entertaining in a stupid, slapstick way.)
One of my good friends back in the early years of high school and I bonded over our love of music. She adored both of these songs, and everytime I hear either track, she instantly springs to mind. She was a performer, while I was more of a supporting act. I was so shy that when we were discussing ideas for what we could do for the school talent quest, I couldn’t even play the song I’d written in front of her. I recorded it at home, handed her the CD the next day, and then basically ran in the opposite direction. (She liked it, we played it, and it was freaking magic, if I say so myself.)
Calls to mind another of my good high school friends (whom I would dearly like to reconnect with; alas the friendship failed to survive the tumult of teenage hormones, jealousy, and general boy-girl related misery. Friendships of the opposite sex can work marvellously – but this crashed and burned spectacularly). In particular, one text message: ‘What the fuck is even flow about. Don’t get it’. Because that’s the kind of text we used to send each other.
One of my best friends is big on Pearl Jam, though I couldn’t say why I associate Black in particular with him. But damn if this isn’t as close to a perfect song as you can get. The subtle guitar work. Vedder’s tortured voice. That final line: ‘I know you’ll be a star in somebody else’s sky/But why, why, why can’t it be, can’t it be mine?’ gets me every single time. (Smooth is also pretty close to perfection, though I think it’s a little too abstract.)
The song T and I listened to non-stop (for some inexplicable reason, we just couldn’t get enough of it) the summer we first started to spend time together.
The song I listened to nonstop while working weekend shifts at my first full-time job.
My concert-going life is now complete – I’ve ticked off every single band I wanted to see live, and more.
Also, I’m getting too old for that shit. Big gigs are patience-testing and sanity-trying. The sheer number of absolute knobs who attend, and the extent of their douchebaggery, is astounding. It’s like the capacity for human jerkiness is never-ending, yet never fails to amaze me. I realise that by going general admission, you’re opening yourself up to potential injury on the floor, and I accept my personal space is going to be invaded and I’ll have my feet stood on/my face elbowed/my every side bumped from overzealous hop-n-jumpers. That tubby little teenage girls are going to inexplicably park their barely covered asses in front of me. That there’s always a circle of young idiot guys (the kind who scrawl the band name across their back with marker pen and then take their shirts off once in the crowd) who think it’s their God-given duty to expand their circle and smash into everyone around them. As a slight person, I’m not in much of a position to do anything about it, except wield my insanely bony elbows where I can. With T, I have, quite literally, an immovable rock behind me, luckily. And beware anyone who irritates him (his tolerance is non-existent, when he’s not the one moshing with friends, which led to a couple of tense moments).
We spent the first half of the show in the middle, about a third of the way back. Eventually, we moved further back and out to the side, where not only were we away from all the jerks, and I had room to actually move, dance, and jump, BUT I HAD A BETTER FREAKING VIEW. As I say, my concert-going life is now complete, but if I go to a show again, I’m more than happy to chill out on the outskirts.
I went to my first big live gig in 2010 (not counting the Big Day Out I worked at in, oh, 2008?). Between then and now, I’ve now been to three music festivals – another BDO, Homegrown and Coro Gold – and I think another six concerts, Paramore, Metallica, the Foos, Incubus, Coldplay and of course now the Red Hot Chili Peppers. I paid for all of those but one, and as concert tickets average around $150, if not more, that’s nearly $1500 (and you can basically double that as T came to almost all of those). I also have to spew vitriol at the fact parking last night was jacked up to $15, nearly double the usual rate. Sigh.
In other, more financial news:
T is STILL waiting for his tax refund from the IRD. Apparently it was paid to his bank account, as it was last year, but hasn’t gone through for some reason. So…it’s stuck in some banking no-man’s-land, and who knows who, when, or how we can put an end to the stalemate.
Also, he’s in charge of a stag do (bachelor party) for a friend in the next few weeks. Ouch. I said even though he’s organising this one, he can’t spend as much as he spent on attending the last one (for a different person) – an entire weekend of poorly organised activities that ran each person into the hundreds of dollars.
ALSO, we may have to pay for suits for his groomsmen for our wedding. Apparently, not all of them will necessarily have suits they can wear. It will probably work out cheaper to hire them, but we’ll see.
Anyone who reads Study Hacks’ Cal Newport will know the concept of passion following competency. Similarly, Afford Anything argues that passion rarely precedes action – do the work and the muse will follow
Friends, I have made one last outrageous expenditure. The Red Hot Chili Peppers are coming to Auckland in January. I tried to get tickets to their last gig in 2007, and failed. This time, I would not be thwarted.
I’m paying $160 apiece for the privilege … and it burns even more that this is a lineup sans Frusciante, who is about 75% of the entire reason I love this band, but now that I’ve seen Metallica, the Chilis are the only other group I want to see before I (or rather, they) die.
That said, here are five other performers I wouldn’t mind seeing in concert:
Would need to be up front in a fairly personal show, or else what’s the point? But I would DIE if I could marvel at the legend himself up close.
I find it hilarious that there is a Facebook group called Michael Buble’s voice makes my clothes fall off. Forget Barry White.
I only recently realised Maroon 6 has been around for a decade. Can I get a WOAH to that?! I have fond memories of a lazy summer afternoon practising for the high school talent quest at our drummer’s house and bashing out a rough version of their first big hit, Harder to Breathe. And now look at them, all Jaggered up. Adam Levine would put on a damn good show, I can just tell.
The artist who made me want to write songs and play guitar. An artist who actually inspired me to buy an album (Hotel Paper, which I picked up in Singapore).
The diva herself. Granted, there are plenty of her songs that I really dislike, but anyone with a vocal range of five octaves is, quite frankly, superhuman.
DAMMIT JOHN. COME BACK ALREADY.
I’ll leave you with my five favourite Chilis songs.
Eat more salads for lunch. Am spending too much time standing over a stove.
In other news, I saw Incubus live this week and have no regrets. Here’s a review that more or less sums it up perfectly.
I’ll admit, I don’t listen to the radio anymore, and haven’t for years, so I knew nothing about their new album. Turns out I really like one of the songs – Isadore – which I had to identify the next day off this set list.
My only complaint lies with the audience, not the band. I honestly think I may prefer dealing with rough, pushy guys at the kinds of gigs I’m used to.This time around I had to contend with getting hair in my mouth from the girl in front of me, and several other girls piercing my eardrums with their constant shrill screams.
The gig itself was somewhat stripped back, almost intimate. Definitely a concert and not a show (unlike the Foos). That said, they have plenty of powerful songs as well as mellow ones. Opener Megalomanic and closer Wish You Were Here were suitably explosive, as was one of my favourites, Anna Molly. Then there were the likes of Pardon Me and Love Hurts, and oldies Drive and Are You In which really took all of us back.
I could only have wished for Agoraphobia, my fave song (but I don’t think it was a single), and maybe Talk Shows on Mute, which I used not to like but has grown on me since I started learning to play it. (Speaking of which, I went right home and successfully learned Drive, which was quite satisfying considering I still remember trying and failing on my chunky acoustic when I first started playing six years ago).
At Kalzumeus, a long read (but worth a skim) on salary negotiation, with a special focus on engineers.
Stale beer. Sweat. Smoke. The occasional whiff of dope.
The Foo Fighters already stopped into New Zealand earlier this year. They played a small soldout fundraiser at the Town Hall – something I vaguely remember, somewhere in my post-Christchurch-quake-work-induced-haze, vowing to make the most of by standing outside to listen to the whole thing. The day passed, of course, and I didn’t even realise.
On the other hand, not many bands could fill out Western Springs. I’ve never seen so many people in one place before, and it seemed about half of my workmates snuck out early for that very reason.
And the Foo Fighters did not disappoint. As I expected, it really was the Dave Grohl show, and for good reason – here’s a man who’s been rocking for nearly as long as I’ve been alive, and is better than he was when he started out. Outlandishly talented and larger than life, in my eyes he’s still the best allround musician in the mainstream today.
I’m not a diehard Foo fan and I don’t feel any particular emotional connection to any of their songs on a deep level, but I find something almost spiritual about any good gig. There was plenty of cheering and singing along to their newer hits, but it was the classics that really got the crowd going. All the obvious songs made the playlist – starting with All My Life and, later on, the likes of Best Of You, Monkey Wrench, Learn to Fly and Everlong. Yeah, it was a 2.5 hour set, but it was a tight one. Grohl’s voice is still going strong and his hoarse scream still piercing (even if he can’t hold it as long these days). Did I mention the beautiful guitars that got some air time?
The rain, the mud, the pyramid of crushed plastic cups that mounted by my feet – none of that mattered. T, me and 50,000 other people were enthralled and thoroughly entertained. The crowd went wild when they announced they’d be shooting live footage for new song These Days (Grohl’s favourite, apparently – the lyrics feel a little forced, but they work, I suppose). Oh, and did I mention that we all made the ground shake – volcanically?
If I needed any proof that these guys know how to put on a show, it was their sudden departure from the stage with a quick “thank you”, followed by a “backstage” video that flickered across the screens in which the band grinned and mimed as we yelled and cheered for more, bargaining for an encore.
Best of all? Tenacious D (the main opener) reappeared during the encore, Jack and Kyle prancing around in their underwear, bellies wobbling all over the place. (Another earlier highlight? Everybody mouthing along to Tribute – an anthem of my high school days.)
If ever there was a musician I’d like to have a drink with, it would probably be Dave Grohl and Jack Black. I’m a big fan of the Chilis (in their Frusciante days), Kirk Hammett and Slash, but they just don’t strike me as the kind of characters these guys are.
No, not you. Unless you go by the name of baked cheesecake, or Lea Michele (I was recently told I don’t seem like a Glee kinda gal. I totally get that. Despite being a lot less of a downer than I once was, I’m still a dry, sardonic, House-ish type more than anything). Or unless you’re a regular reader, in which case I also greatly treasure your loyalty
What really makes my heart sing are these tunes. The brassy Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You
The echoing chorus lines in Go Your Own Way
That killer Tuesday’s Gone riff
So that’s my three tunes for Tuesday. What are yours?
May is New Zealand Music Month. In honour of it, today I’m posting a song – one of the few I actually put music to – as written in my teens. Oh, the angst! I was emo before emo was born. (Some people like to flashback with old diary entries, or recall what they were doing at the same time a year, two years, or more ago. This is more me.)
Why do you give me words
but never as much
as a hug?
You’ll give me material things
but not the feelings
that’s a different kind of love
when you’re done elsewhere
you come to me to give you
what you lack
what am I?
the secret other?
All these little givens that I don’t understand
and I could never ask
reading it all wrong
Why do you walk with me
but choose to love someone else
with your lips?
what am I?
the secret other?
when you’re done elsewhere
you come to me to make up
All these little givens that I don’t understand
and I could never ask
reading it all wrong
you’ll buy me a drink or two
but that’s all you do
I got a sinking feeling
this is as far as we go
I was so close I could see the sweat. Feel the flames. The air was pungent with beer, cigarette smoke, bourbon, perspiration. Underfoot, the crunch of broken cups.
Yes, I have seen Kirk Hammett live, in the flesh, making his eleventy million guitars sing, just a couple of metres away. And I possess a pick distributed by Hetfield’s own hands (not by my own diving and subsequent trampling on the floor, but a generous colleague I ran into outside who had a prime spot).
How much more inspiring can it get?
My legs were still killing me from all the jumping two days later… my calves hadn’t been that tight since the first time I went for a run this year. But, I think I emerged unbruised, which is good enough for me.
The closest I got to the stage was one back from the barrier, behind a girl with dreads (I greatly detest dreads on chicks, heck on guys, either. On human beings, full stop) who annoyed the hell out of me by turning around every ten seconds to look at someone behind us. But it wasn’t as crazy as I thought; Vector are pretty strict on crowd behaviour and didn’t hesitate to kick out people. I did at one point punch a shirtless guy who slammed into me too many times while moshing, though I’m not sure he even noticed.
On the set list: Tons of classics including For Whom the Bell Tolls, One, Fade to Black, Enter Sandman, Sad but True, and more (T was especially stoked by the inclusion of Seek and Destroy). I reckon it would have been perfect if they’d played Unforgiven (either 1 or 2), and I’m quite partial to their cover of Die Die My Darling. Apparently they did play Unforgiven the second night; I almost wish I’d thought of trying to buy tickets to both shows! When you live in NZ, seeing Metallica live is kind of a once in a lifetime thing.
Paramore, while an entirely different beast, was also off the hook. There’s nothing like a packed stadium all singing along to the same song, or the crowd waving lighters and cellphones in unison to an acoustic ballad.
There is something about the buzz of performing that I love. I am not a performer, but a little part of me wishes that I was.
It made me realise that two things I love – behind food and travel – are things I spend hardly anything on. Namely, books and music.
What am I doing about it? Well, obviously I’ve just been to (and paid for) two concerts. There’s nothing like the atmosphere of a live show. I want more of that. And next time a band I love comes to town, I won’t hesitate.
I’m also clearing out my book collection, which consists entirely of freebies and donations. Consequently there are very few items in there that I love. I’m tossing the chaff and clearing out my shelves. I might even buy a few reads that I know I’ll return to over and over again.
One thing I do feel bad about is the fact that T wanted to buy a band t-shirt; I told him to wait until after the show because he’d be too hot to wear an extra layer, but the line for the merchandise stall at the end of it was plain ridiculous. Or should I just be grateful we didn’t spend the $45?