Since most of my friends don’t post with near the frequency that I do, I sometimes don’t check on their blogs for a few weeks at a time. It started out as me not wanting to haunt their pages with hits for no reason, but now it’s more a matter of not having the time.
Keeping up Being lame with at least four web presences (Facebook, Twitter, The Val Kilmer Project, and this pile here) takes awhile. Plus, you know, my job and relationship and stuff like that. So when I re-visit my friends’ pages and see that I’ve missed multiple entries full of interesting things, part of me feels bad for not keeping up with them, while another part of me thinks “stuff to see on the Internet that isn’t porn or recipes, hooray!”.
One of my favorite friend blogs to catch up on is Courtney’s, and I was especially happy to read her most recent entry. I don’t normally like week-in-review blogs very much because most of the people who write them are boring.
“Monday: Went grocery shopping, gotta love coupons!
Wednesday: Little Dakota used the potty for the first time today, let’s hope it works!”
…and so on. I’m not asking everyone on the Internet to be fascinating, I just think that if you’re going to write, you should make some sort of effort to write well, and for an audience that is greater than your grandmother. And if you can’t, fine. Not everyone is cut out to do this (shit, I’m barely cut out to do this, but luckily I’m a drinker so everything I say is brilliant). But that’s why there is still a market for diaries, or, if you must express yourself in digital form, LiveJournal.
Courtney wrote about some shows and about how she’s immersing herself in music and the band she and some other friends are in, French Letters (I hate repeating myself but will never tire of telling you how good French Letters is, so please make an honest effort to see if I’m lying by downloading their album for free). It was so refreshing to read this, both because it makes me happy to know that my friends are happy, and because, after a few weeks of wondering if live music was losing its affect on me, I got to attend one of those faith-affirming shows that left me both fulfilled by the art and relieved that I had not, as I feared, turned into an uncaring husk of jaded asshole. Which I’ve found is a pretty easy transformation if you start writing about music that you aren’t a fan of already (which is not to say that you don’t like it at all, but more that you have no personal attachment to it and therefore do not approach it as an automatically transcendent experience).
I went to a lot of shows when I was younger. Only a few were big, arena-type shows. The rest were smaller venues like clubs or lounges, and a lot were for bands that I’d never heard of or only knew vaguely because someone had put one of their songs on a mixtape. Because of this, I got used to shows where not everyone in attendance was a fervent devotee of the band. It wasn’t until I got older and went to more mid-level venues (The Pageant or The American Theatre for St. Louis reference) that I encountered the fan-as-pilgrim, band-as-Mecca thing more often. This generally happens with well-known-but-only-in-certain-circles bands, the ones who are still small enough to feel special to the listener but not so small that their tours go completely unnoticed. The Bright Eyes show I reviewed is a good example. By the looks of it, I was one of the few people in attendance who was only a casual fan, meaning that I didn’t know every lyric by heart and not at any point did I reach from my spot near the sound guy towards the stage, hoping Conor Oberst would reach back and bless me.
Yeah. That happened. To a lot of people there, which left me wondering if I was missing something. I realized at the time that these people were far bigger fans than I, who wouldn’t have spent money to buy a ticket but was pretty happy with the one I got for free to cover it. I also realized that I appeared to be older than about half of the crowd, and a good deal more emotionally mature than the other half. I’m basing this purely on the observation that many people there were either brazenly making out or crying in public, the former being something I stopped doing when I turned 23 (and even then, only when I had taken Ecstasy) and the latter being something I never did because that’s for pussies.
And it wasn’t a bad show. It was a very good show, and everyone seemed to love it. I’m glad I could go and like I’ve said before, having the opportunity to write stuff like this makes me feel like maybe my days aren’t completely wasted after all. I know that I can’t always write love letters to the stuff I care deeply about, but I can always appreciate the challenge in writing about what I don’t know in my bones like the Bright Eyes fans next to me who barely came up for air. Still, though, it was this and a couple of assignments I recently passed over (non-interest being one reason, a complete lack of time and existing state of sleep deprivation being the others) that made me worry if I just wasn’t interested in live music anymore.
Then I saw Jason Webley* at Off Broadway a couple of weeks ago. Generally put, Jason Webley is sort of a gypsy busker poet weirdo who plays the guitar sometimes and the accordion a lot and provides percussion with his feet and a wooden box. There were well under 100 people at the show but it felt full, one of those intimate shows where there’s a conversation with the audience instead of a dialogue, and where everyone participated even before the plastic bottles filled with coins were tossed out as noisemakers.
So much fun. Such good music, and one of the only legitimate reasons for me to stay out past my bedtime these days. It was one of the shows that I walked out of feeling lucky that I was one of the few who knew this music existed, and that I could not only see it happening in front of me, but that I could see it done well and with the same passion I imagined when I listened to the albums. That doesn’t happen a whole lot at shows anymore, at least not for me, so I was especially glad that I could think back to the show and say “thank god, it still works.”
So hey, Courtney! You have to see Jason Webley when he comes back through Seattle (he’s from there, it’s practically your duty now!). I have to make another CD for you, anyway. I’ll put some of his stuff on it.
EDIT: In hindsight, I realize that a video might be helpful.
*Just click on a record (I recommend Only Just Beginning, which I persuaded my friend Stephanie to buy and she said it was awesome) to sample the songs. Jeez, why do I have to do everything for you?