Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Live And Direct

Back when I was totally bazooka'ed by the abrupt and hideously painful end of my First Real Relationship, I went on this misguided but fun mental mission based on the concept of "I'll win him back by going to awesome concerts!" which, in retrospect, is hilarious. My First Real Relationship was with a boy who considered himself a music type: he played guitar and was, like, into bands and stuff. I have a confused and possibly made-up memory of him telling me that he once slept in his car in order to see Alanis Morissette play a show. Yikes. If that's true, I'm embarrassed to admit that his dumping me shattered me; I really should have known it would end badly.

Unfortunately, when we were together, we were broke-ass kids and could barely afford to feed and house ourselves, let alone buy frivolities like concert tickets and CDs. I think we went to one show together in the entire duration of our relationship - Kaki King, who he was madly in love with and I was like, "Meh, this chick is sort of like a homely Sarah Silverman." The show was in late summer, and because we were awesomely, ultimately, super-duper in love, we cuddled and held hands and were generally glued together at the hip, even though the heat made it feel like suffocation and burning.

He was always wistfully sighing about how he never had enough cash to go to all the concerts he wanted (even though he smoked like a chimney in Industrial Revolution-era London and we drank in bars half the week), but rarely did we scrape together enough cash to finance a trip to a concert venue. I think he held this against me, like I was somehow holding his musical fun hostage.

I have friends who go to, like, five concerts in a month, but that wasn't me. But after this particular breakup, I felt like I needed to get back to who I was - because I was a person who likes live music. My ex had claimed The Music Person role in our relationship, but I've always been a musically-inclined girl. I like new music. I like seeing shows. I like mixed tapes. After we parted ways, I went to a bunch of shows. But I'll admit it: they were vindictive shows, I-don't-need-you concerts, a local tour of learning to stand alone again and half-hoping I'd see him there, just so I could prove that I was awesome: look at me, I like going to concerts!

I have never run into my ex at a concert. I doubt it'll ever happen. And slowly, that quit being the reason I was going to the concerts.

Some of them were about healing, in a different way: my entire family (sans underage brother, sadly) went to see Basia Bulat play a set at Lee's after a horrendously difficult winter re: my sister's health. It was a celebration, an uplift, a family reunion and a fuck-you to cancer. Similarly, my sis and I flew to New York to see Jenny Lewis play a show at the Apollo, the venue where my grandfather saw Ella Fitzgerald perform. I have a bartender acquaintance who moonlights as an insanely talented guitarist, whose shows are feasts of music videos and who band has about ninety-five members. Her shows make me happy, filling me with the kind of emotion that comes from watching someone talented make something good.

I got to see Ted Leo this weekend - and I have the biggest crush on him, because I'm a loser and love graying 40-ish punks who give their audiences tight shows - and it reminded me of all the reasons going to concerts is a blast. I was dancing, singing along, laughing when Leo told a heckler off. I went with a friend who goes to shows all the time; he laughed at my exuberance, but I make no apologies. When the band encored with "Timorous Me," one of my favourite tunes of the past five years, I nearly cried. I love that feeling.

Ticket stubs serve as a little trail of breadcrumbs leading back to some of my fondest memories: the beginnings of relationships, celebrations of success, travel, adventures. I live (mostly) in a city that affords me with the opportunity to see bands that would otherwise exist solely in my headphones, and I would be a fool not to celebrate the fact that, in my own way, I too am A Music Person.

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