Ryan and the Technicolor Wardrobe
Short Stories and Essays

I met my friend Christian through work.  He was referred to our company through our mutual friend, Paul, and he started as a freelancer before shifting to a full time position.  I can’t pinpoint exactly how we became friends but I’m pretty sure that the story was pretty close to this: I walked by his desk while he had Spotify open, I “spotted” that he was listening to something that I liked, we started talking about music and we eventually ended up talking about our mutual love for a band called The Replacements.  It’s been rare for me to find other ‘Mats fans since The Replacements broke up in 1991 and they weren’t exactly the most popular band when they were together, especially outside of Minnesota.  The fans they do have love the band with a fervor that fans of very few other bands can  match.  It’s part of why Christian and I hit it off immediately and why he was able to seamlessly integrate himself into hanging out with my friend Jessica and me.  Our love for this under-appreciated band united us.

Unfortunately, Christian had to leave our company a couple of months after we had started hanging out because he and his wife decided to move closer to family as they were expecting their first child.  Jessica and I decided to throw him a low key going away get together at my place with just the three of us.  I supplied the food and Jessica supplied a hard to acquire beer as well as the entertainment for the night: a newly released documentary on our mutually loved band called Color Me Obsessed.  Dinner went well, the drink went even better, but unfortunately the documentary didn’t exactly meet our expectations.  While we were aware that the movie didn’t contain any music or interviews from the band, the weren’t in the state of the mind to sit through a couple of hours of people recollecting their intense feelings for this band.  We never finished the documentary, and to this day, Jessica refuses to pick it up from my place.

Christian kept in touch with us after the move, albeit on a limited basis, which was understandable since moving, starting a new job, and preparing to be a father for the first time is a lot to handle all at once.  The baby arrived a few months after the move and we were glad to see everything was working out for him.  A few months after the joyous birth of his son, it was announced that The Replacements would be getting back together for 3 shows.  Obviously, Jessica and I were ecstatic.  Christian was also excited that they were getting the band back together after 22 years, but had to respectfully rule himself out for any of the shows.

Jessica knew that she’d be going to at least one of the shows no matter what, but I couldn’t commit to going to one of these shows right away because going to any of these shows required purchasing a plane ticket, which obviously requires a bit of planning.  I finally relented after some coaxing from my girlfriend, and picked the cheapest and last available option, Denver.  During my deliberation, Jessica had decided on going to Chicago and Denver, and I was actually able to book the same exact flight as her.  We were both looking to make this trip as cheap as possible, so we agreed to get in and out of Denver in a little over 24 hours.  We would sleep in the airport or on the plane, if need be, but exploring Denver was a distant second priority to seeing the ‘Mats.

We arrived at the festival, about 45 minutes outside of Denver, and tried to come up with some sort of strategy for the day.  The lack of cell phone reception in this rural part of Colorado basically torpedoed any sort of way to communicate over any sort of distance, so there was a good hour and a half where Jessica and I were separated with no texts going through the airwaves.  I eventually found her after the Alkaline Trio had finished their set.  At that point, we decided that it would be best to stick together, and that we should just stick by this stage for The Replacements, sacrificing the opportunity to see other great bands, so we could have the best view possible for the one band that we travelled from California to see.

Sticking around this stage meant sticking around for AFI and their ravenous fans.  Some of the older Mats fans couldn’t stand AFI, but Jessica and I mostly braced ourselves for the crowd surfing, the shoving, and the typical insanity that usually follows this band.  I could’ve done without getting kicked in the head multiple times from various crowd surfers, but the end result was all worth it.  After AFI finished and their fans had dispersed for the exits, Jessica quickly rushed to the rail.  We had the best view possible for a band that I had been waiting my entire life to see.

The hour and a half plus that the band played for was pure bliss.  We got everything that we wanted and more.  The only downside was that Christian couldn’t have been there with us to see the ‘Mats playing his favorite songs, throwing lit cigarettes at each other, and stumbling around the stage as middle age men in ridiculous outfits.  Words could not do justice to what we saw and heard that night, and perhaps that’s why we soured on that documentary so quickly.  Words can’t do this band justice, The Replacements are a band that needs to be experienced, and hopefully one day we’ll reunite with Christian to see this band rise once again.

A lot of my friends are perplexed about the fact that I’m a fan of R. Kelly.  I assume this is, in part, because I’m Asian (and those confused friends are Asian or Caucasian), but mostly because of his very public and disturbing indiscretions.  While I definitely don’t condone what has come out about his private life, I still enjoy his music, even if his hit to miss ratio isn’t what it used to be.  Besides, even after after his scandalous private life became public, he was able to bounce back into the spotlight, with the focus back on his musical talent.  A petition to the US Government to change the national anthem from “The Star Spangled Banner” to his “Igntion (Remix)” was created, comedian, Aziz Ansari, is known for recounting his various R. Kelly experiences at his stand up shows, and there have been many organized Trapped in the Closet related viewing parties.  Even though his star was back on the rise, when I decided to finally see the man in concert, it was basically on a lark.

About 5 years ago, when I met my friend Beverly, one of the things we bonded over was karaoke, and we’ve been on a quest to find “Ignition (Remix)” at a karaoke studio.  We’ve found it at karaoke bars but we’d like to be able to sing it within the comfort of a private room with friends instead of in a room of tipsy strangers.  We haven’t found a place yet, but our quest has taken us to many different parts of Southern California, and karaoke still remains one of our favorite “go to” activities.  A love of “Ignition (Remix)” has also bonded Beverly and my friend, Jessica, so when R. Kelly announced a tour, Beverly immediately decided that the three of us needed to go.

Unfortunately, by the time we found out there was a show, the show was sold out.  In what Beverly describes as an act of divine intervention, a second show was added a few days after our initial disappointment.  I’m not exaggerating Beverly’s excitement about this added show, in fact, her exact text to me was “It’s a sign from Jesus that we must GO”.  I wasn’t going to argue with that.  I texted Jessica if she wanted to go to the show, and there we were, back on course to see the man known as R.  We were going to get the full R. Kelly experience, but none of us knew what that meant until it was too late.

We all had an idea of what was going to happen at the show, whether it be from checking out various message boards on the net, or going through Aziz’s live tweets from the show the night before, but somehow, we found ourselves constantly surprised.  Perhaps, this had to do with the fact that we procured and demolished a bottle of 100 proof rum and a bottle of Coke at the beginning of the night so we could pay tribute to the song that we all love so much.  I thought we were going to drink in the parking lot but Jessica decided to quietly open the bottle of rum and drink from it in the back of the car while Beverly and I chatted.  As we got closer to the venue, we started to mix the rum and Coke into the Coke bottle so we could drink and walk to the venue, incognito.

So, by the time that we got to the venue, we were all tipsy.  We walked in to the Nokia Theater, and everything looked as it would on any other night, upon first inspection.  That was until Beverly and Jessica walked into the bathroom and overheard some girls talking about how they were glad “their mans [weren’t] here.”  Soon after, we found the R. Kelly Chicken Wings table where I promptly dropped $7 for some wings when I wasn’t even particularly hungry.  Beverly proceeded by buy a t-shirt that had an enlarged black and white photo of R. Kelly’s face on the front and we proceeded to go find our seats.

On our way to the seats, I realized that our casual dress attire wasn’t the norm for this show.  Not that people were decked out in formal wear, but they were definitely dressed differently.  To put it as succinctly as possible, that was the most leopard print clothing per square foot I had seen in my life.  Once we found our seats, I came up with idea of taking pictures with the R. Kelly t-shirt while Beverly went to the bathroom.  I wasn’t able to keep myself from bursting out in laughter while holding up the shirt, so I decided to get more alcohol, and this is where I found the cart that sold rum lemonade out of a keg.  Since this was something else that was unique to this show, I had to buy one, even though my tipsy self could even tell it was probably not of the highest quality.  I brought it back to our seats, we drank some more, and finally the show started. This was The Single Ladies Tour, and you could even buy tickets in a “single ladies” section but we had regular seats because Beverly decided to spare me whatever embarrassment I would receiving being a single man sitting in a “single ladies” section.

I couldn’t tell you what was special about the “single ladies” section but I do know that R. Kelly had two bartenders on stage making drinks for girls from the pit.  Drunk Beverly was pining to be in the “single ladies section” and Drunk Jessica was someone that I hadn’t seen in about 5 and a half years.  Drunk Jessica doesn’t show up very often for a reason.

After a highly entertaining and over the top set (Aziz does not exaggerate, Beverly points out), we headed out the doors back to our lives, or so I thought.  Jessica and Beverly had gotten ahead of me and I ended up losing them.  Beverly tells me that Jessica ended up accidentally knocking over a trash can and yelled “Lets go drink some more!” before Beverly lost sight of her.  I was able to easily track down Beverly through text messages.  Jessica, on the other hand, wasn’t responding to texts or phone calls right away.  We were obviously concerned that our friend was running around the streets of Downtown Los Angeles drunk and alone.  Finally, Jessica called me and told me that she was waiting for us at the car… but she wasn’t.

It took Beverly and I a while to find the car, and when we finally did, Jessica was nowhere to be found.  I called her again and informed her that she might in fact be standing next to a totally random car in a totally random parking lot.  This was completely terrifying to Beverly and me.  Jessica could be anywhere.  After telling her that we were in different lots, Jessica handed her phone to the parking lot attendent who somehow was able to guide us to Jessica even though I think we were all sort of lost.  Jessica finally got in the car and we were finally able to head back to Orange County, not before Jessica told us that she was sitting in the parking attendent’s chair and when he told her that she couldn’t sit there, she told him that she was Mexican.  Then she told us that she was going to sleep in the car, and proceeded to throw up in the car somewhere between Los Angeles and Orange County.

While I couldn’t have predicted any of these events before the show, they all sort of made sense.  We went to go see an artist who’s notorious for excess and self-indulgence and we decided to mimic those impulses.  We ate too much, we drank too much, and then all hell broke loose.  It was a fitting end to a memorable night.  We all just wish Jessica was able to hold her liquor for just a little longer.

 

I ended up seeing Fiona Apple at The Greek Theatre because Jessica just happened to have an extra ticket.  It’s not that I don’t like Fiona or going to shows at The Greek, it’s that the ticket price had scared me off.  She let me go for free and little did either of us know that I would end up paying it forward just a few weeks later with a free Wilco ticket for the Hollywood Bowl.  The whole chain of events was so serendipitous that we managed to not hit any major traffic on our commute from Orange to Los Angeles, AND we managed to find a free parking spot not too far from the venue.  We had to walk up a hill, but it was a small price to pay for not having to pay for inconvenient stacked parking and we had the companionship of some scotch that we had poured into some red Solo cups.

I decided to buy a carafe of wine at the show, and by a carafe, I mean a bottle that’s poured into a plastic carafe so you won’t have a glass bottle for a weapon later in the evening.  I wasn’t hungry, but I was basically drinking on an empty stomach, so by the time the opening act had finished, I realized that I needed something to eat, and in my poor judgment, I thought getting some popcorn would be enough sustenance to tide me over until we could grab a bite after the show.  So I left my seat, stumbled into a line and proceeded to buy a tub of popcorn, but not before I stared at some video screens that told me that I could buy tickets with no service charges at the box office and that the box office would still be open for another half an hour.  I hatched a plan to not only buy some popcorn, but to also buy some Grizzly Bear tickets without having to pay Ticketmaster service charges.  I was a genius.

Even though I was definitely not in the most sober state, I was cognizant enough of my situation to ask a security guard if I would be allowed back into the venue if I were to go to the box office.  He told me that he wasn’t sure, so I asked him: “Why would they tell me that I can buy tickets without service charges and that the box office is still open until 9?  I’m trying to give you guys more money!” This prompted him to find his supervisor so he could ask for permission to go to the box office on my behalf, and quickly thereafter, I was stumbling towards a box office window, popcorn still in tow, on the prowl for some Grizzly Bear tickets.

When I returned to my seat, Jessica asked me what took me so long to get the popcorn.  I told her “I think I just bought some tickets for the Grizzly Bear show.”  She shook her head both amused and slightly embarrassed.  “Who are you going to take to the show?”  She wasn’t passive aggressively hinting to me that she wanted to go, in fact, Jessica kind of hates Grizzly Bear.  She was asking because she was anticipating a certain answer out of me.

“Chris, probably.”

“Of course.”

Chris isn’t my “goto” person when it comes to shows.  In fact, that would be Jessica, which is kind of strange since Chris had hook ups to get us in to a lot of shows for free since he used to work at various box offices.  He’s used those connections more than a few times for us and I’m forever grateful for that, but we definitely didn’t go to as many shows as you would expect from two guys who love live music and have access to concerts all over Southern California.  Chris does carry a certain distinction with concerts that no one in my life can also stake claim to, not even Jessica.  Chris has seen the “Holy Trifecta” of music with me: Pavement, Radiohead, and Wilco.  This has been no easy feat, since Pavement have been broken up for all but one year since Chris and I have known each other and Radiohead tickets are never easy to get.  There are a couple of people that have seen two of the holy trinity with me, but Chris stands alone as the sole person who’s seen the trifecta.

So while Chris may not be the default person in my mind for just any show, Jessica knew he would be the default person for the Grizzly Bear show for a variety of reasons.  We both knew that she wouldn’t want to go, Chris has seen Grizzly Bear with me before, and probably most importantly, Grizzly Bear may be my favorite band to come out that didn’t exist until after 90s, so if Pavement is now defunct forever, then Grizzly Bear might be the heir to their place trifecta, so who better to be there for that coronation than Chris?  Of course, for those who don’t love the music we do or as much as we do, this is all but a foreign language, a folk tale spun out of control.  It can be simply explained as me needing one of my best friends to bail me out by going to a show I drunkenly bought some tickets for when I was only supposed to be getting popcorn, and that it oddly means a lot to me.

“As you sleep with electric guitars / Range rovin’ with the cinema stars” – Elevate Me Later (Ell Ess Two)

Irvine is a planned community.  It is a city owned by the Irvine Company and takes great pride in being considered the “Safest City in America”.  It’s located in sunny Southern California and borders Newport Beach in Orange County, widely recognized as one of the richest counties in America.  For some reason, they decided to stick a public university there and didn’t build a “college town” around it (if I’m not mistaken, the college was one of the first things built there).  I went to said college and stuck around for about a decade.  At first I enjoyed being there because things were so convenient.  There was almost literally a Target on every corner (or at least off of each major street), which was a drastic change from living in North County San Diego, which is still somewhat still under development.

Unfortunately, we missed out on the college town atmosphere and we didn’t have a football team.  The only thing that my roommate Phil and I could really find redeeming about the place (other than it being Will Ferrel’s original stomping grounds) was realizing that Pavement shot one of their music videos not only in the city of Irvine, but at the University shopping center across the street.  Sure it is kind of an irrelevant detail in the grand scheme of life, but we took any victory that could.  Besides, Pavement, and perhaps the Replacements are the only bands that I can confidently say, shaped my personality as we know it.

My friends, especially Phil, always wondered why I stuck around for so long.  I really don’t have an answer.  At first, I think I stuck around because I really liked my church, then it was because I still had some close friends around from college, and then eventually I guess I stuck around out of convenience.  I’d be foolish to say that Irvine hasn’t shaped me in some way or another but I can’t say how at this point.  Some people probably assume that it’s shaped my appetite for fashion, but that was actually caused by my trip to New York a couple of years back.  I do feel compelled to at least look decent when I go to the malls here, but that also might be because I’m 28 and single.

“So drunk in the August sun and you’re the kind of girl I like because you’re empty and I’m empty” – Gold Soundz

I’ve always assumed that the longer you date someone, the bigger the fallout becomes when you break up.  Sadly, the girl that did the most damage to me… I can’t even say that we actually dated.  There was some stringing along, some mixed messages, some feelings shared including the dreaded “I like you but…”  In hindsight, I should’ve bolted instead of sticking around for the drama, so I will be fair and assume my share of the blame.  She was a couple of years older, so maybe I thought she would be above these shenanigans (naive move on my end).  It was a situation that ugly.  People got involved (no retraining orders or violence, just a lot of politics, I guess), and right when I thought things were going to calm down, she told me she had started dating someone else with one minute left to go on my lunch break, which led to a pretty ugly breakdown at work.  For some reason she kept telling me that she wanted to be friends and I believed her.  Then on my birthday, she apparently had forgotten that she “had a date” and that she couldn’t tell me personally, so she sent me the message through our unassuming mutual friend, who I basically yelled at.  It was the beginning of the end for me, both at that job and to be honestly, at church as well.  It was the first time in my life where I understood what “needing a change of scenery” really meant.

” Was a distant voice/ Made me make a choice/ That I had to get the fuck out of this town” – Box Elder

One day I had left my laptop at my friend’s apartment and I needed it to do some work.  I called him but he wasn’t home but he told to swing by and pick it up because his roommate was home so I shouldn’t have a problem.  So I knocked on the door and after waiting a few seconds, I turned the knob and walked in and grabbed my laptop from the living room.  As I turned to leave, I heard a gun cock back and then saw it pointed at me.  I guess my friend didn’t tell his roommate I was on my way over to get the laptop, so I explained to him why I was there and calmly told him “you can put your gun away”.  He disarmed the gun, stopped pointing it at me and gave me some sort of explanation about how he was training to be a cop and some people in the complex knew about it and he was paranoid about them or something that didn’t exactly make any sense.  (I don’t think he passed his psychological exam – true story) While he didn’t actually fire the gun at me, it was an experience that has definitely stuck with me.  I never felt like I was in any inherent danger, but my friend’s apartment in the “safest city in America” was the last place that I ever imagined having a civilian pull a gun on me.  While I’m pretty sure this happened before the fiasco with the girl, perhaps I should’ve taken this moment as a realization that I didn’t belong here.  It was a moment that didn’t make sense on so many different levels, and usually when this happens in a dream, I wake up because I know I’m in a dream.  It was a moment where I should’ve realized that me being in Irvine didn’t make sense, and that I just needed to “get the fuck out of this town”.

Some bands/artists are really intimidating to get into. Sometimes it’s because of their extensive back catalog (like Bob Dylan), others is because of the amount of musical ground they cover (Bowie), and perhaps because an artist has put out some sketchy albums (The Kinks, Brian Wilson). These are artists that usually can’t be confined to a 1 Disc best of, and who wants to buy a best of collection anyways? Personally, it makes me feel really lame, and it’s usually the record label’s idea of what “the hits” are so it’s usually less than satisfying. (Side note: I would think that iTunes and Amazon would make best ofs obsolete by now, but with these NOW compilations still selling millions of albums, most of America does not agree with me.)

The one band that I had a lot trouble getting into is Sigur Ros. They don’t have the most extensive catalog and they’re not genre jumpers, they’re just Icelandic. I’m not racist towards people of Icelandic descent or their music (still loving Bjork). Sigur Ros doesn’t sing in English ( or it’s very rare) and only one of their song titles are in English, which makes it extremely hard to identify their songs. They actually sing in hopelandic, which is basically a tweaked version of icelandic, aka, they sing in a language that is basically made up.  I had tickets for their show and I wanted to be familiar with what they were going to play beforehand, like I would for any concert. It’s not that I wanted to know the set list verbatim, but I wanted to make sure I knew where one song ended and another song started.  I think with a band like Sigur Ros, with their 10 minute opuses, it’s an extremely smart move.

I perused the band’s message board and found some of their setlists for this tour. Because I am not privvy to the Icelandic/Hopelandic language, I could not tell off the top of my head if I had a good majority of these songs in my musical library so deducing what songs I needed to buy from iTunes became a difficult chore: copy song title from message board, paste song title into my iTunes library to see if I already had it, if not, copy song title to iTunes store to buy song. Usually this process is much more basic. It’s looking at the song titles and knowing if I had them or not, there wouldn’t be a need to copy, paste, or even look in my library. Luckily for me, the songs I didn’t have all came from one album, saving me money, but not really saving me any time.

It’s not that I had never heard of the band before. I just usually don’t pay attention to their track names when I listen to their stuff, but I know that after I go to a show, I like to know exactly what was played.  This probably makes me sound like a very casual fan.  I know this band is so amazing live that they’ve made my sister cry (or possibly crygasm), and actually at the show, the girl standing next to me fainted. I had liked what I’ve heard from them, I just hadn’t learned their language and all their song titles (long song titles don’t stick in my brain very long, I’m looking at you Sufjan Stevens). I’m sorry  if I don’t remember Viðrar Vel Til Loftárása off the top of my head or that I have no idea what that means. To look like less of a poseur, I oraganized a playlist on my iPhone with the songs they’d been playing throughout the tour and got really familiar with them. I might even be able to tell you now what song is playing in a really butchered way, like “ooh they’re playing Sagglepuss” (Sæglópur).

I ended up really enjoying the show and I was able to successfully differentiate the songs from each other.  They truly are a band that could bring people to tears and they indeed live up to their reputation.  I still to this day can’t tell you what any of their songs mean, or recite any lyrics for you, but I can probably tell you which album each song is from and I can definitely tell you that I ama fan.

We are currently in a very anxious time for the entire state of Minnesota.  At stake is the well-being of every person in the state.  Who’s holding them for ransom?  A 26 year old professional baseball player named Joe Mauer.  If you don’t know who Joe Mauer is, ask any Minnesotan over the age of 5 and they will probably be able to recite you his Wikipedia page ver batim: born and raised in St Paul, Minnesota, was the highest rated quarterback and baseball player coming out of high school, drafted first overall by his hometown Twins in 2001, has won two batting titles and an MVP award by the age of 26 and will hopefully be signing the richest contract for a catcher in baseball history (somewhere in the ballpark of 200 million dollars over the next ten years) for the hometown team.  If you don’t know or follow baseball, all you need to know is that there is few greater joys for small market sports fan than watching a hometown kid (or ONE OF US as Minnesota hockey fans like to say) become a star for the hometown team.  Mauer in on track to become the best catcher to ever play baseball and is perhaps the best player playing today.  If he doesn’t sign his contract before it expires, there is a huge fear that he will leave for New York or Boston for probably $10 million dollars more a year.   This fear is probably unwarranted since Joe Mauer is the Jay-Z of the Twin Cities.  He runs this town.

I’m not sure if I’m exaggerating when I say that there will be a riot in the Twin Cities in Mauer ends up leaving the only place he’s lived for the East Coast.  There are some sports fans who are far too emotionally invested in their teams, where they can be hostile when told critical things about their teams/players, even when they are absolute facts.  These people are referred to as “homers”.  These people can be difficult to deal with because you can’t use logic or facts on them.  They’re loyal to a fault, and typically are too far invested in their teams/sports that they are hard to have normal conversations with.  There was a movie that was made about this last year called Big Fan, starring Patton Oswalt.  While I don’t know of any homers that have followed their favorite athlete (and entourage) to a strip club, I’m pretty sure that there are some homers that will vandalize the newly minted Target Field (which ironically they paid for via their taxes) if Mauer doesn’t sign his contract.

I’ll be honest, in some ways I’m very much a homer.  I usually know which players have Minnesota ties, like the 2010 olympic team (about 1/3 of the team is either from Minnesota, went to a prep school in Minnesota or went to college there).  I can usually admit when my teams are bad and I try not to overrate players I have special ties to (I probably played little league baseball against Pat Neshek or his brother).  I’m a bit of a homer when it comes to Minnesota music as well.  I’m a huge fan of Low, (Bob Dylan and Prince are universally beloved so we can skip them), I will defend Semisonic as being far better than a one-hit wonder, and I love Tapes ‘n Tapes, though I will admit Walk it Off is a huge letdown after their amazing debut, The Loon.

There’s a new “kid” on the block from Minnesota that I just can’t get behind and it’s not because they’re not from the Twin Cities (neither is Low or Team USA captain Jamie Langenbrunner).  It’s because this kid is just terrible.  I, of course, speak of Owl City whose hit “Fireflies” was the number one song in the COUNTRY not too long ago.  I’m not one of those people who gets annoyed when an artist becomes too mainstream.  I never liked Owl City, even with their inspirational unsigned artist with a Myspace account to chart topper story.  I won’t touch the whole “they sound like Postal Service” debate because my friends’ heads will explode, but I must say this.  As a Minnesota native who is supremely proud of it, how do I reconcile being ashamed of this particular Minnesota artist?

This is probably anti-climactic but the only way I’ve thought of is just to not mention that Owl City (which is really just one guy, I don’t even know why I know this) is from Minnesota.  It’s like when a movie comes out, the trailers and posters only point out the “good” things affiliated with the movie, not the bad.  The next Halle Berry movie trailer will most likely NOT mention she was in Catwoman but it WILL most likely mention her Oscar win.  The next Danny Boyle film will mention that he directed Slumdog Millionaire and Trainspotting but will most likely leave out A Life Less Ordinary and The Beach (maybe).  So lets let this be the last time we discuss the origins of Owl City.  Adam Young, I wish you the best of luck in your musical career, but Minnesota only has room for one native son to cherish and his name is Joe Mauer.

The first thing I got from a mail order catalog was The Lounge Ax Compilation, a benefit CD to keep a club in Chicago in business.  I was maybe 14 or 15 years old.  Had I ever been to this club?  No.  Did I really care about the fate of this club that I wanted to help?  Kind of, but not really.  I was more interested in the fact that I would be getting previously unreleased tracks from Sebadoh, Superchunk, Seam, Yo La Tengo, Guided by Voices and Archers of Loaf.  I don’t think the CD sold enough money to keep Lounge Ax in business, but at least I could say I did my part as a 15 year old living in San Diego.

Every time you mail order something from a record label, they send you an updated catalog with your purchase.  Being new to this mail order world, receiving the catalog was a pretty exciting thing.  I would take it to school and my friends and I would look through it to see what we would be ordering next.  We were young and were curious to see what great bands we’d missed out on because of our youth.  So, going through the Touch and Go, Sub Pop, and Matador Records catalogs were expeditions for us.  “The Jesus Lizard did a split cassette with Nirvana?  They must be great, right?”

Honestly, I don’t know how I waited for my orders to come.  I know it sounds foolish, but I would send cash to these record labels through the mail.  I don’t think I ever stuck change in the envelopes, and i would wrap my bills in the piece of paper my order was on to prevent people from recognizing there was cash in the envelope, but obviously it was a huge risk.  I was completely vulnerable.  Fortunately, every order I made safely made it to each label and I received all but one shipment, and for that one shipment I didn’t receive, I was lucky enough to have my sister, who was working in “the biz” at the time, stand up for me and make some calls to make sure I got what was rightfully mine.

I didn’t just order CDs from these labels.  I started to order vinyl, mostly 7″ singles.  Sadly, I missed the boat on the first run of the Sub Pop Singles Club and when I went to college, I missed the boat on the 2nd run because I was poor or flakey, or both.  There was no room in the dorms for a vinyl record player and then Amoeba Records in Hollywood opened, and iTunes started releasing “exclusive material” so my mail order adventures came to a halt.

It wasn’t until the last year or so where I’ve re-committed to my love of mail order (I blame Sub Pop records with all their reissues – and the fact they give you a digital download with each vinyl purchase).  It’s obviously a lot different now than it was in the late 90s.  Now it’s online, you get tracking numbers, and I have credit cards/debit cards to make sure that my orders get to where they need to go.  I could make the pretentious argument that it’s not the same as it used to be because of all the “technology” involved, but I’m not going to.  I’ve never really considered myself a record collector, but I love the fact that I get the same feeling when I get my records in the mail now that I got over 10 years ago and that I’ll do the same nerdy things like lay out all my colored vinyl as if I were putting together some sort of brilliant artwork (I have white, yellow, pink, blue, red, purple, sea green, orange and of course black – I know you don’t care, I just wanted to brag).

Music has always been a big part of my life.  From the piano lessons I took when I was 7, to the countless hours of walking around with my walkman/discman/ipod and headphones,  I really have no clue where I’d be without it.  I’m just glad to know that as I get older, I still have the same crazy passion for it that I had when I first discovered it.  I know that my spending on shows and vinyl will be curbed over time as the priorities in my life change, but I am confident that the few times that I am able to order something, I’m going to still have that same excitement that I had when that Lounge Ax compilation was at my front door.

When I was in 5th grade, I had to be lab partners with a guy named Colin. He was a bigger, taller kid who had red hair that wasn’t quite wild enough to be a mullet. We didn’t hang out during recess or at lunch but it’s not like either of us were disgusted by our pairing, at least not until he told me that his favorite band was Metallica. Like the good Christian boy I was, I told him “I don’t listen to devil worshipping music”. Not that I listened to Christian music as a kid, but Metallica seemed to be the opposite of Kris Kross, and that’s what I was listening to at the time, so Metallica and Colin had to be evil. After all, Colin did pour vinegar into his test vial of sugar to ensure that whoever his lab partner was, they wouldn’t want to sneak a taste.

Little did I know that Kris Kross would not withstand the test of time and that Metallica was the horse to bet on, but fortunately Colin and I never kept in touch after I moved to San Diego so he can’t point that out to me. He also can’t make fun of me that my first metal show ever was just a couple of weeks ago, at the ripe age of 27 years old.

You might expect a fascinating story of how I went from “Metallica is satanic” to “I’m going to a metal show”, but honestly it’s not much of a story at all. In fact, I still don’t like Metallica. I like two metal bands, Mastodon and Dethklok and Mastodon is considered “metal for people who don’t like metal” while Dethklok is a cartoon, though their music is actually well respected by the metal community. (Dethklok consists of Metalocalypse creator Brandon Small – who went to the Berkelee School of Music, Steve Vai’s bassist, Frank Zappa’s guitarist and a drummer known as the “Atomic Clock.)

No one can really take credit for getting me into either of these two bands. No one made me listen to these bands in the car, or slipped me a burned CD. For Mastodon, it was the critical buzz and the fact that they had Josh Homme (Queens of the Stone Age) sing on their song “Colony of Birchmen” on their album Blood Mountain. For Metalocalypse, I had been a fan of Brandon Small’s previous (and super underrated) cartoon, Home Movies (remember I’m a film major), so checking out Metalocalypse was a no brainer for me. When I found out that both these bands were going tour together, it was clear to me that this was a sign to go see my very first metal show.

I found out about this show on a bus trip from Minneapolis to Chicago. Surprisingly this isn’t the only concert I ended up getting tickets to on this trip (Jon Brion + Nels Cline = mind explosion). I didn’t have wireless for my laptop on the bus, so I called Sherlan and he happily picked up the tickets for what would be both the first metal show for the both of us.

A couple of friends voiced their concern about my safety regarding this show. I didn’t really think it was warranted since these two bands don’t have a typical metal following. Sure, since they’re metal bands, they’ll have some metal fans, but they’re also two bands that reach non-metal audiences, with Mastodon reaching the hipsters and Dethklok reaching cartoon-loving nerds. Of course, that didn’t prepare me to see a guy wearing a Bathing Ape button down shirt when we got to the show. (Also we parked next to a car with a license plate that read M. Bison)

The show itself wasn’t a disappointment, but I would say that it was pretty much the same as a regular concert except for the fact that kick drum is mic’ed to be intentionally ear drum shattering loud and that the bands take little break after a few songs from all the intense shredding and drum beating that they do. Also, the Dethklok soundcheck might’ve been the only soundcheck ever that has amused me, as their roadie went up to each mic and growled a monstrous “HEYYY!” into each mic before walking off stage. Check one two, one two, this surely was not.

There was a mosh pit, there was some crowd surfing, but all in all, it wouldn’t be that different than going to a Foo Fighters show. There were no animal sacrifices or prayers to Satan. Nothing was harmed during the concert (except in cartoon form, lots of things die in the world of Dethklok, including mermaids), but more importantly my ears weren’t ringing and no one made me bleed with their spiked bracelets or whatnot. I know that while this was not a typical metal show, metal shows in general aren’t as violent and grotesque as I was led to believe as a child. So while I do feel bad for being so judgmental as a child, what happened happened and I can’t change that, nor can Colin change the fact that he put vinegar in the sugar. Dick.

If my life were a sitcom, Chris would be a reoccurring character that would show up a couple of times each season when there was a need for some laughs.  You can tell that there’s a relationship between this his character and my character, but you aren’t given the whole back story on it.  Also this reoccurring character doesn’t usually seem to move the story along, the episode is usually in a vacuum.   Not to say, Chris’ only purpose in my life is to serve up laughs, but it may appear that way to people on the outside.  He and I are definitely close (as I’ve documented in previous adventures), but he often “falls off the map”.  At one point in college, I hadn’t seen him or talked to him in a year or so.  We didn’t have a heated arguments or anything, my life just got busy and I forgot to call him.  I ended up running into him at an Islands that he was working at (I had no idea he worked at an Islands), and we picked up where we had left off a year earlier.  Since then, we’ve been better at making sure we don’t go a whole year without checking in with each other, though we’ve missed some birthdays and whatnot, which is kind of sad since neither of us have left the country or even the state for extended periods of time.  I talk to Bruce almost every day and he’s on the other side of the country.  I’ll be lucky to talk to Chris once a week.

But like I said, we’re still close.  We have traditions and inside jokes and we can jump from one conversation to another without wondering “Umm, what should we talk about now?”  We once had a 15 minute conversation about the different textures and flavors of Cheetos.  I prefer my Flaming Hot Cheetos crunchy and my White Cheddar Cheetos fluffy, while Chris prefers his Flaming Hots fluffy, and his White Cheddars crunchy.  These aren’t forced conversations, they somehow happen naturally and this is why you might think he’s just around for some comic relief.

Most of our conversations revolve around music, movies, and the minutia of day to day life.  Our sensibilities are pretty similar: we both love the Coen Brothers’ films, Radiohead, Pavement, and of course, The Get Up Kids, who we’ve been able to consistently catch on their tours since Chris and I became friends.  We’ve seen them 4 times since 2005, which is kind of weird since they broke up in 2005.  I’ve written about how weird it was to see them play at the Bamboozle Festival earlier this year, in front of a bunch of kids who didn’t know who the Get Up Kids were, in a lineup where all the bands playing were influenced by the band.  Chris and I were able to catch them on a headlining tour, and while we didn’t have to deal with the weirdness of being around kids have our age, we had to deal with the fact that we were starting to feel too old for these club shows.

If it wasn’t for the fact that Chris had a friend who could get us into the show for free, I don’t know if I would’ve considered going to the show, which shows how terrible of a fan I am.  We also showed up with hopes of missing the opening acts, which is a far cry from how we were in college where we would try to get as close to the stage as soon as possible.  When we arrived at the venue, we got our wristbands for alcohol, and I waited for Chris to get our tickets from the will call window.  He returned from the window with the tickets and different wristbands.  While I put on this second wristband, I asked him what they were for and he had no idea.  So we walked in, and I went to the bathroom.  When I returned, Chris informed me that the wristbands got us access to the “lounge”, which is basically an area with couches and tables behind the floor.  We grabbed a couch, ordered some drinks from a waitress and watched as one of the opening bands tore through a terrible cover of “Forever Young”.

The couches were comfortable and we had a pretty good view of the stage in the venue which I believe held 1200 people.  The Get Up Kids hit the stage and we decided to stay in the lounge.  As people crowd surfed and moshed, he stood at a railing in front of our couch and watched the show unfold.  As the mosh pit grew, we were relieved to be away from the floor, and that we had a comfortable couch to sit on if we were starting to get tired of standing.  I know this sounds like we’re total wimps, but we are.  This is not to say that we will never try to get close to a stage again, but we’re starting to get more selective about who we choose to stand and show up early for.  I attribute this new discernment to me trying to conserve energy for the work week (this was a Thursday show), but it could just be that I’m getting old.  So in this episode of the sitcom of my life, while this cameo from Chris doesn’t really move my life story along, it does surprisingly show some character development.  Perhaps we should all give him some credit here, or at the very least, we should be very excited when he shows up during sweeps week.

I remember where I was on 9/11. I was at student staff training at my alma mater, and when I woke up that morning, I was scared because I had slept in. One of our staff trainers had knocked on my door and I was pretty sure I was going to get chewed out, but I was instead informed that training for the day was canceled and that I might want to call family and friends to see if they were okay. I got a brief run down of what had happened, watched it on the news and couldn’t believe my own eyes.  It just… didn’t look real.  My sister lived in Brooklyn and Bruce was attending Carnegie Melon in Pennsylvania, and since I was fuzzy on the details, I quickly called them/found them online. They were fine, and finally it was time to start processing everything else associated with the day.

It’s been almost a decade since the attacks, and perhaps Rudy Guliani and Alan Jackson are to blame for why I feel desensitized to all the events that transpired that day, but I don’t think I’m alone. I believe the poor reception to Oliver Stone;s World Trade Center film had a lot to do with the fact that people don’t want to think about it, and I think for those of us fortunate to not lose a loved one, we only really think about the aftermath of 9/11 on the anniversary and when we’re at the airport and we have to take off our shoes to get through the security checkpoint.

So on 9/12/2008, Jessica, Kirsten, Makenna, and I headed to the Hollywood Bowl to catch Brian Wilson perform with the LA Philharmonic. I’d seen him a couple of years before at the Bridge School Benefit and was excited he’d be playing his famous Beach Boys songs at Bowl with fireworks.  We didn’t share stories about how 9/11 affected us or where we were on the day.  Jessica just told us a story where she was at a bar the previous night and how there was a moment of silence, and how after the moment of silence, Neil Young’s “Keep on Rocking in the Free World” came on the radio and how she thought the coincidence was hilarious. After that, we went back to our normally scheduled activities: filling our ice chest with cheese, crackers, and other snacks to go along with our two bottles of wine, as we headed to watch Brian Wilson and his band perform.  It just seemed like a coincidence that he was playing the day after (it was closing weekend at the Hollywood Bowl, which he does every couple of years or so), but perhaps it wasn’t.

We were fortunate to be in the last row of our section and at the end of the bench because we were going to stand up for all of Brian Wilson’s set. We were by far the youngest people at the show that didn’t accompany their parents. We didn’t care we were out of place, we were intent on being shameless and loud.  The lady sitting next to me told me that we “were too young to like the Beach Boys” but that she “loved our energy” as we got tipsy and danced for the duration of the show. (I think she tried to dance with me at some point and all I could think in my head was “half your age + 7, lady, get away from me”, but whatever.) We heard “California Girls”, “Wouldn’t it be Nice”, “God Only Knows” and “Surfer Girl”. He didn’t have a lot to say between songs, not that Brian Wilson is known for his witty between song banter.  He wisely let the music speak for itself.  He then broke out the encore of “I Get Around” and “Surfing USA” as the fireworks went off.  It was an amazing climax to a beautiful evening. Not only were we having a great time, we found ourselves with a great deal of pride in our country. Brian Wilson’s love of California is unparalleled, and honestly it’s quite infectious. We left the Bowl seeing what he saw, the beach, the freeways, everything in a different light.  If everyone could see Brian Wilson perform with fireworks going off in the background, everyone would be in love with this country, full of pride, full of the American spirit and ready to show the world that we are not going to live in fear. He may not be able to bring back the loved ones we lost on that tragic day, or end the economic woes that we face, but he can help us remember how to love our country and for that, for everyone at the Bowl that night, Brian Wilson won the war on terrorism.

I’ve heard of crazy things that have happened at Radiohead concerts: people bawling their eyes out as the band has come on stage, people fainting the second Thom Yorke speaks, pretty much the run of the mill rock star stuff that started with The Beetles and Elvis and continues on today with… umm, The Jonas Brothers.

Of course, I’ve only heard about these accounts from friends or by watching them on TV, which means I haven’t really “experienced” the weirdness. I just kind of shrug my shoulders and accept the fact that they happen. Of course, there was a good chance I was going to experience something since I had tickets to see Radiohead at the Hollywood Bowl, (and as we all know, Hollywood brings out the weirdos anyways,) but there was an even better chance that this “experience” was going to come from someone standing right next to me.

My friend Jessica claims that there are certain songs that will make her “crygasm” if they are performed live. The list of songs intrigued me more than trying to figure out what a “crygasm” is, which is probably what makes me a weirdo. The list of songs weren’t the most obvious (Fake Plastic Trees, High and Dry, Motion Picture Soundtrack, etc) but made sense, I mean, for Radiohead they made sense (Thom Yorke is not Lou Barlow). They were all beautiful songs that had some sort of romantic mention in them (“Climing Up the Walls”, “Talk Show Host”, and “True Love Waits”), and she was on the fence if “Reckoner” might do it, since she hadn’t heard the song live previously.

So the day of the show was pretty hectic for me. I had to leave my parents’ house in San Diego and head to Fullerton for church (and I had to make sure I had the tickets with me). From there, I was supposed to meet up at Chris’ house after lunch but lunch took a bit longer than expected so Chris and Jessica came to me, which I find endearing, except for the fact that they are afraid to meet any of my friends from church for fear of being converted. From there, we headed up to LA, hit up some stores, had dinner and walked over to the Bowl. Susan would meet us just as Radiohead walked on stage – talk about impeccable timing.  This is where the anticipation started to mount, not just for Radiohead, but for the much hyped “crygasm”.

For the previous week, I had been sifting through the Radiohead set lists on the ateaseweb.com message boards to see what songs we were likely to see at our show. Both “Climbing Up the Walls” and “Talk Show Host” were showing up pretty consistently and “Reckoner” was showing up every night, so it seemed that whether Chris and I wanted to experience it or not, a “crygasm” was headed our way.

The show started with “15 Step” and we were on our way. The Bowl was packed but no one in our immediate area fainted or started immediately crying to my amazement/disappointment. So, now it was up to Jessica, who wasn’t feeling especially great (she had a cold, she wasn’t depressed or anything). I wasn’t sure if I wanted to see her crygasm with a cold, since I still hadn’t determined what a crygasm actually is. Would it induce vomiting? Is it contagious when the crygasmer is sick?

These thoughts were just a passing fancy, since it’s pretty hard to ignore the awesomeness that is Radiohead and if you find a way to distract yourself during “How to Disappear Completely”, you my friend, have no soul. The band was at the top of their game and everything in the night started to come together. The day was rushed and a little stressed, but none of it mattered anymore. We were experiencing something magical, and while Jessica never crygasmed during “Climing Up the Walls”, it was far from a disappointment. Besides, we have pit tickets for Sigur Ros next month, so maybe those Icelandic kids will get a crygasm out of her or at least cause someone in the pit to faint. One can only hope.

(Jessica didn’t crygasm at Sigur Ros, but a girl who was next to me in the pit fainted – mission accomplished.)

I haven’t had regular access to a turntable since high school, so the vinyl that I collected back in the mail order days have been collecting dust for almost 10 years now. I never intended that to happen but since I move every year or two, I’ve never been able to convince myself it was the right time to buy one. In those ten years, I’ve kept my vinyl spending to a minimal (exclusives only), but I miss being able to have a turntable at my disposal more and more these days.

I know there’s the audiophile argument for vinyl: less compressed, crisper quality, warmer sounds, etc and while I do notice those nuances (or at least I think I do), I mostly miss the idea of sitting in one room and listening to music. I bump my iPod in the car so when I get a new CD, I have to go home, rip it onto my computer, and then transfer the songs onto the iPod, before I listen to it. Then I put the CD on a shelf, only needing it when a friend wants to borrow it. Vinyl doesn’t seem as disposable and cheap, it’s something to be cherished. It’s almost feels like you have the real thing, and you have to listen to the whole thing (or at least a whole side).  There’s no option to shuffle through tracks and skipping tracks is inconvenient.  Listening to a record forces a listener to experience the album in the meticulous sequence that they selected.

A couple of months ago, I was notified by Josh and Sherlan that they had acquired a turn table for their apartment. I was especially excited since I had just gotten an exclusive Pavement Live LP in the mail a couple of months earlier and I had failed in my attempts to find a friend who had a record player. Unfortunately the needle was in poor condition and needles not in high demand or supply, so I was left back where I started, with an unlistened to Pavement LP.

This past weekend, I showed up to their apartment with the sole intention of hanging out and grabbing dinner with Sherlan. Dinner was good, perhaps too good. “When can food be too good?” you might ask. It’s when you get fried sweet potatoes lathered in butter. That is the answer. It’s always amazing when you go to one of your favorite places and still find new things to dazzle your taste buds. These are the surprises in life that I wake up for every day. To my surprise, this surprise was just the appetizer to the main course.

Shortly after Sherlan and I returned to the apartment, Josh came home, and for some reason the turntable discussion came up again.  It turns out that Josh had acquired a working turntable and had also brought a box of various records from home.  Though I didn’t have any of my vinyl with me, there was plenty of good stuff.  Sherlan had his Talking Heads debut album, which he had picked up on Record Store Day (I picked up a second Pavement Live LP and a Flight of the Conchords 7″), and Josh had everything from John Lennon’s Plastic Ono Band to Van Halen’s 1984.  After a brief spin of Plastic Ono Band and Talking Heads, 1984’s and Queen’s Greatest Hits’ A-Sides were listened to in their entirety.  Everything sounded clearer, crisper, there was a larger discrepancy between the soft and the loud, the guitar solos had more of an edge.  And then, everything just came together.

First we fired up the Tetris arcade machine they had, thinking Tetris and rock and roll would work.  It was alright, Rush combined with Space Invaders probably would’ve been a better choice (see Futurama).  Then we decided to do some Wii Bowling while listening to Sports by Huey Lewis and the News.  All of a sudden, their living room had magically been transformed into the coolest virtual bowling alley (I understand the oxy moron here) that could ever be imagined.  Sure Daniel Plainview had a bowling alley built into his mansion in There Will Be Blood, but to me, that didn’t feel like a bowling alley.  A bowling alley isn’t about solitude and class, it’s about League Night, loud music and friends.  Bowling is awesome in the same vein as karaoke.  It’s about disregarding tact and the limits that we place on ourselves daily.  This was not a night to quietly listen to Animal Collective while drinking scotch.  It was a night of the Tetris Soundtrack, Van Halen’s “Panama”, Sports, Bud Light, and a healthy dose of trash talk, just like the real thing.

I’m a pretty religious man, while Chris is pretty much on the agnostic side. Well, Chris is just kind of apathetic towards life in general, so I’m not quite sure he believes anything exists these days, but what I am sure about, is that he would agree with me that God has quite a sense of humor. If he didn’t, why would The Wiltern be smack in the middle of what is now known as Korea Town?

The Wiltern is a historic theater, and even if it wasn’t surrounded by all things Korean, would still be one of my favorite places to see a show.  Everyone from Brian Wilson to The Streets has performed there and it’s always been a great experience.  What enhances the experience even more for Chris and myself is the fact that we get to eat a pretty delicious meal beforehand.  In a way, I feel like the Wiltern was made for us, a couple on Korean-American indie rock loving kids, and since we don’t live in Los Angeles, don’t get tired of either The Wiltern or the Korean food that Korea Town has to offer.  It’s our home away from home.

Now Chris and I are far from fluent in Korean, but we know how to order food, and we definitely know what food is good.  Unfortunately for the hipster crowd, Korean food isn’t really in vogue (with the exception of the BBQ, which is always in vogue for the gluttons) so unless you know someone who is an expert on Korean food (most likely a Korean), it can be rather intimidating.  So when they arrive to the Wiltern early, they’re usually searching for the nearest Subway or McDonalds, or a place that seems friendly to those who only speak and understand English.  They’re easy to spot with their confused looks, unkempt hair, and skinny jeans.  It’s understandable.  I’d never go into a place where I or anyone in my party, couldn’t read the signs or the menus.    Plus with all the smelly cabbage and spicy tofu, I’m not sure that what a Korean food virgin wants to eat right before bouncing up and down to Animal Collective.

Chris and I usually eat at BCD Tofu house (spicy Korean tofu soup) and now there’s Mr. Pizza Factory, a Korean pizza place.  What’s makes the pizza Korean?  Sweet potato paste in the outer crust and some gourmet combonations (seafood, baked potato theme, etc). It’s definitely not for the health conscious, though probably healthier than eating pounds of short ribs in one sitting.  It can give you a pretty serious case of food coma, but that’s a story for another time.

The last time Chris and I were at the Wiltern for a show was for Death Cab for Cutie on the Transatlanticism “victory lap” tour.  We went to BCD and ate tofu with a side of short ribs.  This was the 2nd time I had seen Death Cab for Cutie, but the first time at The Wiltern.  This was almost 5 years ago, we barely still qualified as student (Chris was finishing up, I had one class to complete), and Death Cab for Cutie was just starting their ascent to the mainstream.  This wasn’t the last time that I saw the band in concert (Bridge School, 2006), but it’s the last time that I’ve been to the Wiltern. Coincidentally enough, the first time I caught the band, they played at the El Rey, which is also in Korean Town, and guess what I had that night?  Korean food!  Too bad Chris Walla is a vegetarian.  I bet he’d really like Korean short ribs.

Chris and I will be going back to The Wiltern tonight to see Grizzly Bear for the first time.  I can’t promise that we’ll be blown away by the band tonight (but I’m sure we will), but I can promise that after 5 years, we will go through the same routine of eating a hearty Korean meal before heading to the show, and it will feel just like it did 5 years ago, and it’ll feel eerily familiar.  Perhaps we’re more in tune with our culture than we like to let on.  I guess Korea Town really is kind of a home away from home for Korean, even ones like Chris and me.

So the story goes, on the third day, Jesus rose again from the dead, and this marked history’s first reunion tour. Like many of his ideas, they were ahead of his time, so it wasn’t really until Coachella started paying bands boatloads of cash to get back together that people realized that you’re usually more popular when you get back together than when you were in your prime. The Pixies played small clubs broke up and when they got back together, started playing filled amphitheaters. Other than licensing “Where is My Mind?” for the Fight Club soundtrack, they did very little directly to make themselves popular. Like a chia pet, they just let their legend grow.

The Pixies aren’t the first band to cash in on the reunion circuit, but they’re probably the first band that saw their fan base exponentially grow the second time around. Groups like Simon and Garfunkel and Fleetwood Mac have been cashing in for years, but they had huge followings, the Pixies did not. So recently a lot of not-so-popular bands have been cashing in, like My Bloody Valentine, Dinosaur Jr. and… The Get Up Kids.

If we were playing a game of “One of These Things is Not Like the Other” with a hipster douche bag, and I listed The Pixies, My Bloody Valentine, Dinosaur Jr., and The Get Up Kids, the hipster would immediately single out The Get Up Kids. The Pixies influenced Nirvana, and Nirvana in turn changed the modern rock landscape. My Bloody Valentine’s Loveless has inspired everyone from Radiohead to the Smashing Pumpkins. J. Mascis of Dinosaur Jr. is revered as one of the great guitarists of this generation and Nike gave him his own shoe. Unfortunately, The Get Up Kids don’t have a glorious resume. Fall Out Boy seems to love them, but I’m not sure that this is something the band is proud of. See, The Get Up Kids unknowingly helped usher in the emo craze even though they themselves weren’t a big fan of the genre. When they tried to become more artsy, all but two of their fans revolted. Those two fans were Chris and I. (Actually it’s 3, my old roommate Patrick also didn’t mind the new direction, but it’s a better story if it’s just Chris and I). We caught them on their last tour (they unfortunately played their last show the day before my birthday) and we begrudgingly moved on.

Then they decided to get back together 5 years later. Was their rejoicing? Not really.

I didn’t even check on the dates of the tour. I wasn’t upset, I just felt like I had closure with the band. It wasn’t until Chris called me asking me if I wanted to head up to LA to try to catch them, that I even considered trying to catch them. I was on my way down to San Diego to see my parents, and it was reported that the LA show was sold out, so I told Chris we should try to catch them the next day at the Bamboozle Fest in Irvine. They would be playing a shorter set but the LA show was sold out, which in my mind made a potential trip to LA not worth it. Also, the added fact that Chris could get us into Bamboozle for free pretty much sealed the deal.

Chris gave me the set times Saturday afternoon, and luckily, The Get Up Kids weren’t scheduled to hit the stage until 8:30pm, so I had plenty of time to make it to Irvine from San Diego. When I arrived, Chris and I started our trek out to the stages, which were side by side. A band by the name of Metro Station was in the middle of their set while The Get Up Kids were setting up on their stage. There were about 30 people already waiting for The Get Up Kids. I would say they were in their mid to late twenties and even possibly their early 30s, and much better dressed than the fans on the other side, dancing to Metro Station in their Hot Topic clothes, spiked belts and skinny jeans. Also while The Get Up Kids fans had rimmed glasses, they were not wearing any mascara.

Have you heard of Metro Station, the band that is fronted by Hannah Montana’s brother and her co-star’s brother? They even say they’re from Hollywood, not from LA. Classy. After dropping a slew of F-bombs, they ripped into their Myspace hit “17 Again”. While this train wreck was going on, we saw Matt Prior take pictures of the fans waiting from the stage, and we saw the rest of the Midwestern rock outfit, The Get Up Kids, get ready for action.

They came out in t-shirts, flannel shirts, jeans, just like they did 5 years ago, looking like normal people, probably a little shocked by what “emo” looked like today.  (Side note: my friend Barrett, age 21, tells me I’m from an older generation even though I’m only 6 years older than him.  If this is true, Barrett, this is your generation.  I call it the “Hot Topic and Mascara generation”.)  Bassist, Rob Pope, was the best dressed out of the bunch, Chris and I attribute that to him now being in Spoon, a much more profitable band. Actually, Chris attributes this to Britt Daniel dressing Rob, but as of now, this cannot by confirmed by the band’s publicist at press time.

The band opened with “Holiday” and the set went according to plan. They played the fan favorites, they told the Fall Out Boy fans to shove it, and us older fans sang along, as did most of the people watching from the side of the stage. Their set was a bit shorter than if they were playing a club (about an hour opposed to an hour and a half), but they played long enough to make us remember why we loved them so dearly. The band seemed to be enjoying themselves even though knowing that a lot of the kids at the festival had no idea who they were, and were perhaps amused that they indirectly were responsible for this emo explosion. They probably didn’t really win over any new fans, but they reminded the few and faithful fans that had come out, why everyone thought they were going to be the next big thing around the turn of the millennium. I would use the cliché that they brought us back to a better time, but that would be false. Adolescence was a very bizarre time.

I’m not sure if we ended up getting that nostaligic rush that a Simon and Garfunkel, or a Van Halen would bring to long time fans.  Perhaps it’s because we weren’t watching them in some massive amphitheatre or because it had only been 5 years since the break up opposed to 20.  Or maybe it’s because there wasn’t some huge drama with the band.  No one was really fired, no weren’t any massive ego trips, the break up wasn’t announced over a fax.  The lead singer quit because he wanted to be home with his kid(s).  Maybe that’s what’s wrong with the music industry these days.  There’s not enough drama.  While it’s good for the emotional health of these bands that they’re not publically crucifiying each other, it’s going to hurt their pocketbooks in the end.  People love a huge spectacle before they see a resurrection.  Just ask Jesus.

(Disclaimer: No scripture was harmed in the process of writing this entry. If you’re expecting scripture, go here)

Every now and then, I will get brought into some inane hypothetical discussion about Jesus of Nazareth, who was begat by Mary, a virgin and so on. These hypothetical discussion are never about whether Jesus was really the son of God or whether he was any good at being a carpenter. These discussion center around Jesus in the present day. What car would he drive? (Prius?) What would be his favorite kind of ethnic food? The question that usually gets me in trouble is “What kind of music do you think Jesus would listen to?” (Short Answer: not Michelle Branch)

It’s a much more complicated question than it sounds. The immediate reaction is: Christian music. I don’t think it’s absolutely wrong to think that, but I think it would be inaccurate to believe that this is what he would listen to all the time. I don’t know about you, but I think it would be kind of weird to listen to songs that are about how awesome you are, all the time. To say Jesus would listen to this kind of music all the time, makes the indirect statement that Jesus is a narcissist, and while he often proclaims himself to be God, I’d like to think of my Lord and Savior to be better than that. I’m sure he’d listen to it on the way to church and when he’s in a reflective mood, but not while he’s blasting down PCH in his car. (Prius?)

He was a simple man who reached out to the poor and those who were being unfairly mistreated (social outcasts, the sick, short tax collectors than nobody liked), so it seems to me that Jesus would listen to music about social injustice opposed to the latest T-Pain album. He’d also probably want something upbeat and rocking to help him get pumped up. I think he’d listen to Fugazi.

Fugazi is a post-punk/hardcore band with a cult fanbase because they’re a band that rose from the DC hardcore scene in the mid-late 80s and is respected for not selling out (won’t sign to a major label, they keep their ticket prices around $10, won’t license their music to corporations). I saw Ian Mackaye (guitarist/singer) from the band do a Q and A session at my alma mater a few weeks ago and I saw that he’s a humble, intelligent, passionate, and down to earth guy. He told stories, explained lyrics and collaborations and made it clear that his work should not be put on a pedestal. To paraphrase him, he basically said “don’t pine for a Minor Threat (his old band) reunion, go out and make a band that blows Minor Threat out of the water.”

I know Fugazi has no religious affiliation, so I’m not trying to say “if you take the lyrics from Suggestion, you can see Ian Mackeye is singing to God”. I’m just saying that Jesus would respect Ian Mackeye’s integrity, DIY ethics, and his socially conscious lyrics.  Mr. Mackeye is doing things for social justice, not allowing himself to get caught up in greed and material things, and trying to keep people from living the status quo.  He cares about the well being of his fans (he breaks up mosh pits) and seems pretty down to earth for a guy who’s been making music for a living for the majority of his adult life.

Fugazi is basically jock jams for people who want to save the world (in a good way) and I could definitely see Jesus walking into an impoverished neighborhood ready to do his work with singing these lyrics to himself:

“the elected are such willing partners
look who’s buying all their tickets to the game
what development wants, development gets, it’s official
development wants this neighborhood gone so the city just wants the same
talking about process and dismissal
forced removal of the people on the corner
shelter and location
everybody wants somewhere” – “Cashout” by Fugazi

And I could also see him driving down the 405 at night rocking out to “Long Distance Runner” after a long day of work or chilling at home listening the Evens (Mackeye’s new project).

(*Side note, I’m not going to make the argument that Jesus is straight edge. He made wine, so I assume he also drank it.)