Friday, December 11, 2009

BIBJ Playlist of the 2000s entry #13: Massive Nights by The Hold Steady

We had some massive highs
We had some crushing lows
We had some lusty little crushes
We had those all-ages hardcore matinee shows


I have no idea how T.A. Skate Shop became a live music venue.  When I was 15 years old, we walked in the front door, confused by what seemed to be a very ordinary showroom adorned with boards, wheels, and Airwalks.  We realized that we needed to enter behind the building, and walked inside, confronted with several large half-pipes in every direction.  Pinned against the far wall was a makeshift stage where SuperFatFlyBoy would rock out while the crowd watched, scattered throughout the room and sitting on various angles of skate ramps.  It certainly seemed like an odd place for bands to be playing.  This, of course, made the scene much more appealing.

Shows at T.A., or at the Paquette basement, offered a charming aesthetic that you couldn’t get from the Emerson (and not just because both places had significantly fewer neo-nazis in attendance.) As a kid, there's something inspiring about watching bands play in places that aren't predisposed to live music.  A do-it-yourself vibe permeates through the room.  Going to the Emerson to see a band is a passive experience, even though it's clearly enjoyable.  Going to see bands at T.A. or Paquette's meant hanging out in the parking lot or porch and engaging in a large amount of bullshitting with members of No Flowers, then occasionally remembering that one of the bands were going to play. 

Those were indeed massive nights.  I can recall random quotes that were clearly unexceptional at the time, yet have grown more poignant or hilarious with each day that's past.  This is fairly obvious, as the entire attraction of nostalgia in the first place comes from its ability to loom larger as it ages.  It’s human nature when recalling past events to inflate their importance or attach a symbolism that didn’t exist at the given time.** After all, the vast majority of free nights as a teenager who can’t drive are going to be pretty uneventful, so nights that involve any type of noteworthy happening will no doubt stand out when examined in later life. Every spin through Boys and Girls in America triggers this inflated reflection, which is why it's looked upon so fondly.   

**It's largely accepted as a universal truth that any story told from someone's memory will involve at least some degree of imaginative detail.  So I still can't understand why everyone went batshit on James Frey.

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