Jun 19, 2016

The Most Important Words

About a year and half ago, I made decision to hang up my press badge.  Over those years I wrote a lot of words, told a lot of stories and did far too much proof-reading and worrying about grammar.  For the most part I did all of it for free.  It was all those things that killed my passion for writing.  However, nothing can kill my love for great music and the artists who make it.

The past three days I spent with bands who were part of some of the best moments of the last ten years for me.  At almost 60 years old, I took two trips to Manhattan.  My head hit the pillow around 2 a.m. on Friday morning and this morning.  Last night I spent with the person who opened this window again in my life.  Thursday night I spent with the band that first caught my attention thanks to that person.  These shows were wonderful, fun and bittersweet.

I don't care any more if anyone reads the words that I write.  I don't care if my punctuation is wrong or there are other type-o's.  These are words from my heart.  They are about people who hold very special pieces of that heart.

Let me start with the 10th Anniversary of the Decomposer album with The Matches last night.  The last time I saw Sean Harris he sported a bit of a "Flock of Seagulls" hair-do and a bowler derby.  I was more than a little bit of a fan girl because I got to shake his hand that night and provide him with a much needed Sharpie.  I met Jon that night too.  It was a Toad's.  It was the third time I had seen them live.  Such great performers with this really unique sound.  Nobody else's music was even similar.  Last night, Harris's voice still making the songs what they are but with much longer hair and an Amish hat.  The whole band was on high octane.  Great show in a great venue.  Everyone dancing, singing.  The air was filled with positive energy.  Only downside was that the show was not sold out.  That's not to say there was not a big crowd and all of them happy to see The Matches again after almost a 5 year disappearance off the radar.  Let's hope they will be back again sooner next time.

Thursday night was the major show for me though.  Somewhere between 2005-2007 I saw my first Motion City Soundtrack music video on Fuse.  I think it was "Everything Is Alright" but it could have been "LGFUAD".  Whatever it was, the song had me tapping a toe and laughing.  It didn't take long to start looking up their discography at that point in their history.  Quickly I fell in love with their songs.  It was July of 2006 I saw them live for the first time at Warped Tour in Long Island.  That sealed my adoration.  I also learned at that performance that Justin had seen all three (at that time) of the Harry Potter movies but hadn't read the books.  Just shy of a year later I arrived at Bamboozle 2007 with a copy of Harry Potter and The Sorcerer's Stone in my car.  The book stayed in the car because in trying to get all mine and my kids' stuff together, it was forgotten.  I remembered after I was inside the festival and could not go back.  Two months later, at the Gramercy Theater, I got the book into Justin's hands and told him "If you like it, you'll figure out how to get the rest".  I also met Josh briefly that night.

By 2009, after 3 years of road-momming and street teaming, I decided to turn to my writing talents to help these musicians who deserved to be much farther up the food chain than the crap on terrestrial radio.  I waded into the waters of music journalism.  I don't remember how I found my first PR contacts but the first one that responded was Stunt Company.  At the time they were promoting the latest tour of Motion City.  Lindsay  not only scheduled my very first interview...it was an in-person at the venue.  Rookie sees the 'green room' first step out of the gate,  has to work with a TM and gets to sit down with Jesse.  It was scary as hell.  But the interview was pretty good and the resulting publication and also the published review of the show, put me on Stunt's regular mailing list.  Over the next 6 years I would interview the entire band either by phone or in person.  I attended I don't know how many of their performances.  I became friends with Lindsay.

I thought the I completed my circle with MCS at Warped Tour Hartford 2013 when I interviewed the member who was the first I met but the last to interview...Justin.  We learned that we both had the same experience with Harry Potter - got to Book 7 and couldn't get past Chapter 3.  I asked if he ever thought he'd run out of songs.  He said yes, but then something would stir in his brain and 3 more new ones would come out.  Matt was there too.  It was the second time I had spoken to him.  It was all more of a conversation than an interview.

I missed a couple of their tours after that.  Then earlier this year they announced their Farewell tour.  This was something I would not...could not miss.  I opted for NYC as opposed to Hartford.  I was glad.  Irving Plaza was packed to the rafters with people, who like me, knew every single word of every song they played Thursday night, including the three song encore ending it all with "The Future Freaks Me Out!".  It doesn't freak me out though and one of the reasons is Motion City Soundtrack.

Justin, Josh, Matt, Jesse and Tony - thank you for showing me the door to the rabbit hole.  Thank you for making me laugh and cry. Thank you for helping blow the dust off my dancing shoes and bringing the colors back into my home and my life.  Thank you for introducing me to What's Eating Gilbert and other openers I hadn't heard before.  Thanks for taking new kids like Jukebox The Ghost out on the road with you.  Thanks for being an integral part of my Warped Tour experiences - MCS, Yellowcard, Less Than Jake, Bayside...  Thank you for making it okay for a 50+ old broad to not only say "fuck" in public but scream it.  Thank you for Harry Pottering with me and thank you for a whole encyclopedia of memories...all great ones.  Just thank you.  You guys are my first, my last, my everything and I will miss you so much.

These days I go to shows not worrying about reviews.  Many of the bands music is listened to from the vantage point that I have gotten to know some of the musicians a little better than most fans but took my responsibility to share those parts with the fans as a writer.  Some moments were just for me and I keep them the precious treasures they are very close to my heart.  I won't ever stop trying to get the messages out there that music in small venues is the best and don't think that your age/gender/race/sexuality should have any effect on what music you listen to.  You are not limited to what you give a chance to.  If you have favorite artists, be there for them.  Buy their music and their merch...AT SHOWS!!  The best music is not best because "artists" play arenas with ridiculous ticket prices.  The "best" music does not spin on the radio any more with very few exceptions.  Support small venues and indy radio stations.

To any and all of you who have read any of my words...on this blog or my others, on Examiner.com or DigitalJournal or on FourCulture - thank you.  Thanks for coming along for the ride.  I don't apologize for poor grammar or other writing faux pas.  I don't apologize for occasionally writing negative reviews.  Even the best sometimes have a bad night or bad fans.  I just call 'em as I see 'em.  I do apologize for not being able to cover all your favorites or even mine.  I don't apologize for my guilty pleasures.  I do apologize for sometimes having to play "the game" to get the story.  I don't apologize promoting some of these great surprises that came out of "the game".  I will always be here for anyone who thinks they want to be an arts/entertainment journalist.  I will share my experience and offer help.  I don't agree with all the speed bumps various parts of the industry throw up.  But I also understand why in some cases they just can't give every "writer" what they are asking for.  I will warn you that you will get into this because of idealism.  Reality will set in very quickly.  You will slug it out, be tired, bruised and out of words and out of money.  I won't tell you to hang in there.  I will give you a shoulder though.  Good luck!


Mama Kath