Do you remember your real first concert? Possibly the one you had to go to accompanied by an adult. Mine was Elton John and my friend and I got to go with her adult cousin, which was super cool at the time.
Do you remember your first unaccompanied concert? The time you got dropped off at the Forum or went with an older friend who was able to drive? It’s crystal clear I’m sure.
The Tragically Hip was becoming my new bible and I got to go. We sat last row and it was the best night ever (more about the Hip later).
How many times did you watch Almost Famous and wish you could be “with the band”? Trying to channel your inner Penny Lane and float around with the kind of free spirit that seemed just unreal. Sigh. I still want to be Penny sometimes. I also still want to be my young self, seeing the bands who made the music that shaped my 90’s self.
My husband recently surprised me with tickets to go see the Red Hot Chili Peppers, one of my favorites and one I had never seen live. Super. Pumped. We got a babysitter, we went downtown, walked around, ate “at the bar”. It was a real adult night, even though moments later as the band played some of my best anthems, I could swear I was still 15.
Going to a concert as a “mom” is, well, different. I won’t lie, I am down for a concert any day but I couldn’t help but be a bit stressed that I might feel tired the next day because we would get home late or that the lunches weren’t yet made.
And why was I so blown away but the variety of people at the show? Like there were people my age, older, older than that and younger. There were young kids there. There was a sixteen year old teen in front of us, there with her parents who was not screaming, but screeching. A loud girl screech sound that was actually the only sound of the night that pierced my ears. But her mom beamed and I felt that maybe this was one of her first concerts. There were girls in Chili Peppers dresses, a couple dressed up AS Chilli Peppers and local celebs (sitting next to me!). Younger people don’t know what it’s like to go to a concert and have to rely on your memory to remember it and not a series of snaps, posts, tweets and stories. And the sea of un-flickering lights is a sight of cell phone flashlights. Not lighters. Just saying. But It was awesome. The music was insanely good (like insanely good) and everyone was just there to live the music. This is why I love rock concerts. A concert is a place that’s loud and dark, a place where you can let go, a place where everyone is there to Live The Music.
Music really is the background of every memory. Look back at your old photos and they will tell you the story of the soundtrack of your life.
My young kid pictures with my best friend and neighbor sings Sharon Lois & Bram to me instantly. My elementary school pictures merge from Paula Abdul outfits to NKOTB T-shirts. And high school wins the Grammy with the best of my musical mix tape. Always starting and ending with The Tragically Hip and lots of plaid and 90’s alternative rock mixed in. And after that? Well you know, the standard songs from your college days, wedding day, maybe the playlist from your first labour and so on.
Last year it was announced that the lead singer of The Tragically Hip, my favorite band, was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer and they were embarking on a FINAL cross Canada tour. I was shocked, as was a legion of fans across the country and then some. How could this be? How could this be it. We will no longer be able to go to a Hip show, ever again. I sat in my car blasting the music in tears. I can’t even count the number of times and the number of venues I saw this group play live. It’s just something that’s been part of my life for over twenty years. Unfortunately, the one time it really mattered, I was unable to get tickets. They were snapped up and put up for resale immediately (at super inflated prices) which left thousands of people angered and sad. This couldn’t just be the end. Thankfully, it wasn’t. A petition was circulated and the CBC agreed to broadcast the show live from Kingston, their hometown, and on August 20, 2016 I hosted my Hip friends and fans and we got to watch the final show under the stars, drinking beer, the way it’s supposed to be done. My heart melted. I had spent the entire summer trying to get tickets, I was listening on overload and a lifetime of memories floated through me. I have seen this band with my bestest of friends, my siblings and cousins, each one of my boyfriends and my husband. We grew up with their songs and that one night served as thank you and goodbye. Truthfully, I’m still not over it.
That experience is what prompted me to write this blog because whether it’s a wholesome Canadian band, a shiny Pop Star, a sultry soul singer or a radical rapper, there’s a tune out there that touches a chord in everyone.
Someone’s written words set to music will be someone else’s soundtrack. It will get this person through their toughest times, it will be in the background as that person sails through their happiest day and is playing in some form or another everywhere that we go.
My nine year old son just downloaded two hundred songs to his iPod and I can’t help but smile when I hear him singing every word to Bruno Mars with his headphones on in the backseat. These songs will start shaping his life and I know, deep between the hits of today, there’s some Peppers and Hip somewhere in that mix.