Sunday, May 19, 2013

Nurse the Hate: In Their Prime

It is difficult to know when all the gears are turning correctly, the engine running at peak, and everything is running perfectly.  Too often when one is at their peak or in some sort of heyday, you cannot appreciate it or even acknowledge it is there as there is so much focus on the task at hand.  When you are in some sort of Golden Age, can you even know it?  Or is the very concept of the Golden Age itself flawed by romantic perspective of the past?  I can’t ever remember anyone saying, “While the Summer of Love in San Francisco was probably pretty cool, I have to say nothing could possibly top what is going on with us right here, right now.  This is the absolute best!  To be living here in Mentor in 2013 is amazing!”

I saw a couple of bands last night, one of which was The Thermals.  If you aren’t familiar with The Thermals, they are a post punk indie pop band (I guess) that really writes some catchy urgent material with some pretty big ideas in nice little packages.  This is the second time I have seen them, and they were really good.  They were polished, enthusiastic, and obviously believed in their latest material.  I didn’t think they were as good as the last time I had seen them though.

After the show, I went in next door and caught The Futurebirds, who knocked my socks off.  Six guys in their early twenties that looked like a thrift store threw up on them played these raggedy dense country tinged songs that sounded like they could fall apart any second.  The fact that they didn’t only made them more powerful.  I don’t know what the hell they were singing about, but it sounded really good to me.  I don’t know what it is, but these guys have caught some kind of wave.  Despite the fact that their show was five times more amateur than The Thermals couldn’t hide the fact that “it” was happening for them.  They were just stepping into their prime, whatever that turns out to be for them, whereas The Thermals had exited theirs.  Maybe the Futurebirds will sell a million records and buy Zeppelin’s old tour plane.  Maybe they will play small clubs until the wheels come off.  Either way, the next short period of time should be pretty interesting for those guys.

I have seen some bands over the years at just the right time.  I saw the Pixies in a small club right after “Surfer Rosa” came out.  I saw Jane’s Addiction six months before they broke.  The Hold Steady when they were touring “Boys and Girls In America” were in that zone.  I saw Reverend Horton Heat open up for the Cramps in the early 90s, and every rockabilly guy went “Hmmm… So that’s a direction we can take this…”  Sometimes the right people get the right ideas at the right time and execute these ideas perfectly.  You can feel it in the air when it happens.  It’s undeniable and it is exciting.

The thing that gets confusing with the idea of a “prime” with music or art then becomes the question of subjectivity.  Maybe the last time I saw The Thermals I thought they were better because of the mix.  Maybe I was in a better mood.  Maybe I liked the last batch of songs while the public as a whole prefers this one.  Maybe most of the crowd thought last night the Thermals was a band hitting their stride while the Futurebirds were some stoner guys that need to tighten up.  Who knows?  I just know what I thought.

Maybe all the talk about “being in your prime” is really just a parlor game.  You like “Beggar’s Banquet” and I like “Exile”.  It’s really appreciating the entire ride anyway.  Memory is a fickle beast.  Even if you thought something was great, if others don’t reinforce it, you’ll have it slowly drift away.  You may believe that Krokus on their “Headhunter” tour was the greatest rock show of all time.  Who knows?  Maybe it really was that great.  If it impacted you, it was good.  (For the record, Krokus did destroy Def Leppard on that tour in 1984, but that’s not saying much.  I do not, nor have ever believed it to be one of rock’s greatest shows.  For some reason Krokus popped into my head.  I am sorry if I made you think of the horrible power ballad "Screaming In The Night".  One day I will sing that song in a duet with a keytar as accompaniment while busking in European Train Stations.  If I am lucky that is...)

I have been surprised twice this year by wandering into a club to hear something unknown that sounded interesting.  It’s not easy despite all the access we all have to an unlimited amount of content.  You have to work at it to see and hear interesting things, as most of what surrounds us is crap.  There actually are some exciting things going on.  The fact is you just don’t know unless you take a look around and see for yourself.  Take a chance. You might find someone that stumbled onto something at just the right time.  It is worth opening up that door and looking inside.  You might like what you see.


At May 19, 2013 at 11:49:00 PM EDT , Blogger Ken in sunny Florida said...

Precisely how I discovered a little ol' band from Cleveland called the Cowslingers. Just wandered over from the radio booth as a lowly intern at a Rib Burnoff at Burke Lakefront to check out all the hullabaloo, and BAM!, "Strip Bars, Liquor and Fireworks"...the rest, as they say, is rock and roll history.

At May 20, 2013 at 8:01:00 AM EDT , Blogger Walter Zoomie said...

"...I thought they were better because of the mix. Maybe I was in a better mood."

I think you hit it right there as to why.

The listener's mood and the mix...

At May 21, 2013 at 3:45:00 AM EDT , Blogger AZ said...

You nailed it.The key is to keep trying. Life is in the living.

At May 21, 2013 at 10:13:00 PM EDT , Blogger Dave L. said...

Amazing night. Seeing that show reminded me that you have to get off the couch to have a chance to catch the magic that can only happen at a live show.


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