while i was having coffee with a friend of mine recently she mentioned wanting to like music the way she did as a teenager. i’ve been thinking about that a lot and how liking things when you’re a teenager feels different. it is different.
it’s knowing where the singer of your first favorite band was born. (answer: essex. name that band!)
it’s hearing a death cab for cutie song in a livelavalive youtube video when you’re eleven years old and it blowing your mind.
it’s happily waiting in line outside a chicago pop punk band’s show for hours in the pouring rain.
it’s looking up every opening act and making a playlist to learn their songs before going to a show.
it’s the first time you discover a band that will define one of your closest friendships while in treatment for an eating disorder and playing that song on repeat for days.
it’s going to see la dispute right after you got your wisdom teeth out.
it’s convincing yourself to love joyce manor because you feel like you need to.
it’s being excited about exposing yourself to as much as possible because you’ve never had that before.
then one day music (or any interest, really) stops having that effect. maybe you decided to go to school to learn stuff about the industry of that thing you loved most in the world and got discouraged by the sexism in every course. maybe you started having so much anxiety that music sounds bad so you can’t listen to anything that used to bring you comfort and joy. maybe you were told being excited about music and being a girl invalidates you. or maybe your friends just weren’t interacting the same way so you followed suit.
i stopped showing up at shows early then eventually missing openers or leaving before a headliner i don’t care much about. i stopped listening to music in a way that felt born of genuine interest. i sure as hell don’t sit and convince myself to like a band. and it’s not that i think that level of enthusiasm can last, but it sucks to not have that feeling anymore. to listen to an album and think “holy shit this is what i need” is special.
not to say i don’t like new music, but the way i interact with it is so different now especially in live settings. in some ways that’s good but the feeling of rabid, excited discovery is something special that is lost when you transition out of that teenage fandom.
but when you do get that spark of “holy shit this is it”, it’s special. and i got that moment a year ago while i was desperately trying to have the time of my life studying in paris. if you know me at all, i’ve probably tried to get you to listen to martha. martha is a band from the uk, they sing with full accents that i’m embarrassed to say i sometimes can’t understand, and their wikipedia page says they have, “expressed intent in being a pop group”.
for the first time in a long time, a band touches all aspects of a period in my life (so much that i made a zine about the last year of my life that i titled using part of a martha song) and it feels good. this year was a lot of bad but even the very bad was colored by songs that i associate with joy. for the first time in a long time reading lyrics intently, posting photos of ACAB graffiti on metro vending machines with curly and raquel lyrics written over it on my instagram story, doing the former to understand who curly and raquel are because i grew up with general hospital not coronation street.
i’ve yelled lyrics in my best pal’s car. i’ve listened to every band they’ve done tours with (and found a lot of great ones in a year where i haven’t liked most american released in the scene i’m used to finding a lot of stuff i enjoy). and when i saw them live in chicago, i felt the way i used to feel at shows when i was sixteen. knowing (most of) the lyrics, excited about a new song, happy they shouted out the organization i volunteer with to fight sexual harassment at shows.
part of me is embarrassed to like something with a similar fervor to how i liked my favorite bands in high school but most of me is happy to have that feeling back, if only in the form of one band almost none of my friends like and who will probably never come back to the united states.
but at the end of the day i’m happy to feel something strong through music after not feeling that for so long.
originally posted october 11, 2018