The Best Moments of Summer 2014.

The first date.

Sometimes the best dates are the ones you don’t know are dates; there’s this element of unsuspected surprise; of wondering how someone feels and then finding out they feel the exact same way as you do; of seeing a friend you haven’t seen in a while transform, in just a few short hours, into someone you could fall in love with; of sitting by the water with someone, the quiet happening, and then having that person gently touch your chin and bring their mouth to yours and in that moment, feeling like all your dreams have come true. And everything afterwards was a whirlwind of swirling shooting stars – an utter late 20s poor student teacher fairy tale.

Arcade Fire, Squamish Festival

In the form of one outdoor dream concert, everything I thought I knew about live music was forever changed. The Arcade Fire show… what’s there to say about it? I was in the front, for one. And I could feel all the epic coming at me, surging through my bloodstream quickly, so much so it was almost difficult to come down from the excitement I felt from the first note to the confetti-spewing finale. It wasn’t just the music, though the music was the catalyst for the mayhem and madness of the orchestral performance art craziness that I witnessed in just over 90 minutes that night. It was the multiple drummers, it was Regine Chassagne standing on a table top doing oddball poses in a shiny mask, it was Win Butler doing a warrior stance on a podium at the front of the stage sweating through his stark-white jacket as if he was fighting some battle of intensity, cementing him as one of the best frontmen in indie rock n’ roll, it was the ‘greatest hits’ set list and the weird masked figures ‘posing’ as the band and book-ending the entire show. I’ll never forget that show. I don’t know how many other concerts could ever, ever feel that way.

Josh Ritter at the Commodore Ballroom

I hadn’t been to the Commodore Ballroom since that magical Ryan Adams & the Cardinals night back in 2007, and so I was already prepared to re-live rosy memories of past concerts on this night. What happened instead was my thorough enjoyment of my second Josh Ritter show as Ritter himself burst with quirky energetic joy, playing his way through all eras of his best songs. I was front and centre, my hands and glass of beer actually sitting on the stage as I sang along almost-tearfully to “The Temptation of Adam”. It was so hot in Vancouver that weekend. This was the hottest night of all.

Bag Stands at Pemberton Festival

The best part of Pemberton Festival wasn’t the music and it certainly wasn’t the two 3 km trips we had to make from our cars to our campsite with all of our flats of PBR and other camping equipment. The best part was bonding with my best festival friends and their friends, the five of us passing around a bag of wine and then eating re-hydrated peanut fried rice from a bag. There was hangovers and perogies and headbanging and massive consumption of alcohol. It was one of the most fun weekends I had all summer.

Seattle With Mom

Seattle is a magical place with delicious food and amazing beer and pretty scenery. I’m a huge fan. It’s probably one of my favourite cities on earth, and it’s always a pleasure to drive down there for one reason or another. On this particular occasion I took my mother for the first time and the two of us had a really nice time down by the waterfront, eating (AMAZING!!!) pot pie and drinking craft beer, and doing our favourite American things. I really love spending time with my mom, especially when it involves one or both of us doing things for the very first time.

Jealous, Happiness for Others, and the Whole Damn Thing.

I will admit fully that sometimes I’m jealous of others’ successes and others’ achievements. I am jealous of others’ happinesses, and it has caused me to be and feel negativity that I questioned for my own self why and how I felt this way. In doing so, I noticed that it was only certain people for whom I was incapable of feeling happiness. And this led me to ask myself: Why do these particular relationships happen to cause me this type of jealousy and anger? In turn, do my actions instill jealousy and anger into these other people as well? With one or two in particular the answer was yes. Jealous was reciprocal with people who I feel set up to ‘compete’ with for some reason. And this opens up another can: Where does that competitive relationship happen and why? And what can I do to stop it before the daggers in my green-eyed-monster eyes lodge themselves unsuspectingly into someone’s heart causing irreparable damage?

I was doing some reading on this and found some truly moving and interesting combative ways to  not allow jealousy and bad feelings get the better of your relationships. I questioned whether I was doing this for me or for other people. I thought about television shows where the protagonist with whom we are supposed to sympathize yelling, “Why can’t you just be happy for me?!” and place myself into that role. Why not? Why can’t certain others be happy for me? Why can’t I be happy for others?

All I can do is promise myself to remember bad feelings and do my best to avoid them solely based on how it feels to be on the other side of them. But what can I do for other people? Can I demand to be heard? Can I demand to not be a target for their anger? No. But what I can say is this:

I have been through a lot in my life that has, at times, rendered me to be a nasty and unforgiving person. And this is no fault of the targets of my anger but rather people who can no longer hear my screams for one reason or another. That is wrong. But it is equally wrong to deny me of sharing in my happiness just because of petty jealousies of the past. Reconciliation begins not with getting ‘revenge’ but rather, rebuilding bridges. Rebuilding is indicated by one person sharing in another’s happiness as a foundation for this renewed relationship. That’s what I want and there is an opportunity for that now which, it is apparent, may soon pass. And so, what are you waiting for? Please share in my happiness. It is welcomed. There is beauty in that act. Even if you somehow fail to see it right now.

Twenty Facts About Me.

Remember when stating 25 random facts about yourself in the “Notes” section of your Facebook page (which ceases pretty much, to be used at all in this day and age – all of 4-5 years later)? I do. And I’m going to retro-throwback that as part of my blog on this sunny September day.

1. Today is the first time I’ve ever comfortably and confidently been able to call myself someone’s girlfriend without feeling as though I was making assumptions about someone else’s feelings.

2. I didn’t like the movie Frozen. I don’t understand why the internet and everyone else in the world has turned it into such a huge phenomenon. It was an average animated Disney musical at best.

3. I have a love/hate relationship with social media. On one hand, I am hopelessly addicted to Facebook, Twitter, blogging, Instagram, Snapchat, and so on and so forth and I manage active accounts on many sites. On the other hand, I see small children having dinners out with their parents and they’re staring at a screen and not paying attention to their surroundings at all; I see people at concerts documenting their entire experience through a 3-5″ screen; I see kids in high school texting each other and Facebooking each other more than they’re actually physically spending time together. It hurts me to see a generation that does not know a world without hand-held devices.

4. I make one of 2-3 variations of the same meat/vegetable combinations for dinner every single night that I cook.

5. In the past 3-4 years, I’ve grown very comfortable addressing issues that happened in my past. I realized talking about the past helps to make everything better and lighten a load that nobody needs to burden themselves with.

6. I love scalp massages. More than pretty much anything in the world.

6. I’ve never had a manicure before. I’m too ashamed of my ugly hands.

7. I sometimes feel that I constantly like people more than they like me and I’m talking about friendships as well as relationships. I always check my email half-expecting to see people who are no longer in my life coming to certain realizations and messaging me about them, and every day that doesn’t happen. At this point, I’m starting to be okay with that.

8. As horribly sexist as it is, one of the movies that sums up and reminds me of what it was like to grow up and be a teenager in the late 90s/early 00s is American Pie.

9. If I don’t have coffee in a while, I start getting excruciating headaches. Which means I have a full-fledged addiction.

10. I always liked Christina Aguilera more than Britney Spears.

11. Considering that I did an English teaching degree and an Arts undergraduate degree, I am actually quite poorly read.

12. I don’t really care about having the ‘latest’ or ‘best’ technology.

13. I’m borderline-obsessed with soup. It’s one of my favourite go-to lunches.

14. One of my favourite songs of all time is the embarrassingly cheesy “Drops of Jupiter” by Train. There’s something about it that transcends me. Of all the songs I know (and there are a lot), there’s something indescribable about it.

15. When I was a kid I used to sneak mouthfuls of whipped cream that I’d squirt into my mouth from the can when my mom wasn’t home.

16. I think the 90s episodes of The Simpsons is some of the best television ever created. I never get tired of classic Simpsons reruns.

17. One of my favourite things to do is travel to see a concert. You get the experience of a trip as icing on the cake, and an amazing show.

18. If I could abandon all logic and choose any career in the world whether or not I’m suited to or qualified for that job, I would either be a forensic investigator, a record store owner, or I would open a bar in Maui.

19. I’ve had moments where I swear I can predict the future, even though logically I’m sure that I can’t.

20. I have the most crippling fear of failure.

Five Bands I Wish Were Still Together.

The White Stripes.

How could you not witness old videos of the raw, uninhibited bluesy power of the dynamic duo of Jack and Meg White? There was something so primitive and also juvenile somehow about the mixture of guitar virtuosity and the manic screaming of Jack, alongside the simplistic two-note pounding on the skins provided by the most underrated drummer, Meg White, doing what she does best. There was magic in those two. Jack White has since been one of the most prolific and arguably modern day legends of our time with the Dead Weather, The Raconteurs, and on his own with his powerful, fantastic solo albums. But I don’t know if it gets any better than The White Stripes. I’d love to hear what these two would be capable of in this day and age.

JET

Critically panned, most infamously and notably by everyone’s favourite pretentious music blog Pitchfork, JET certainly didn’t have the best reputation with people who ‘knew what they were talking about’. Having said that, their debut album stormed onto the charts with the sort-of one hit wonder, “Are You Gonna Be My Girl?” and instantly captivated everyone. The foot-stomping, hand-clapping, riff-heavy garage anthem still plays in bars today and there isn’t a soul who won’t get up and dance. JET were lost amongst all the other ‘The’ bands (White Stripes, Hives, Vines, Von Bondies, and so on and so forth) but these Aussies were what they were and gave what they gave; throbbing melodic garage pop with torn edges. I loved every minute of it. Fuck you too, Pitchfork.

Fruit Bats

Eclectic folk/pop outfit Fruit Bats only called it quits last year, and I can still feel the pain of the split like a fresh wound. My other other favourite Chicago-based folk band, Fruit Bats were a small and highly underrated band with lineup changes over the years but an uncompromising easy, breezy twee sound with clever songs involving losing teeth in earthquakes and taking a date to see Three Dog Night at the fairgrounds. I never had the opportunity to see Fruit Bats live, and I’ll always wonder how it would have been to sit in the audience drifting away to Eric D. Johnson telling me he’ll be the lump of sugar in my tea.

The Kinks

If only. If only the Davies’ could resolve their differences and all other problems with these garage rock Gods could be solved just so they could hit the stage one more time. Despite outlasting decades and decades however, and releasing great album after great album, changing sounds and adapting to the times and doing everything right to keep current, the fact remains that the Kinks cease to survive. And that’s a shame. I think the world needs a Kinks reunion. Irreconcilable differences between genius collaborators is a creative, professional and music fandom tragedy. I’d love to see the Kinks live once again and everyone else would, too. Everyone that is, except for Ray and Dave. Come on, guys. Patch it up.

Led Zeppelin

I’ve often said that the one concert that at this point might blow my mind the most, it would be The Rolling Stones playing anything, anywhere. I would do anything to see them. And that’s only because they’re still together, and Zeppelin are not. I cannot even imagine seeing Jimmy Page and Robert Plant together on the same stage, doing what they do, even past their prime. I was born in the wrong decade, I think to myself sometimes. And it’s only because I didn’t end up an 80lb Zeppelin groupie watching Robert Plant stagger around on stage as if he’s possessed and Jimmy Page melting off my frail drug-addled face. It’s a cruel world.

Five Bands I Wish Were Still Together.

The White Stripes.

How could you not witness old videos of the raw, uninhibited bluesy power of the dynamic duo of Jack and Meg White? There was something so primitive and also juvenile somehow about the mixture of guitar virtuosity and the manic screaming of Jack, alongside the simplistic two-note pounding on the skins provided by the most underrated drummer, Meg White, doing what she does best. There was magic in those two. Jack White has since been one of the most prolific and arguably modern day legends of our time with the Dead Weather, The Raconteurs, and on his own with his powerful, fantastic solo albums. But I don’t know if it gets any better than The White Stripes. I’d love to hear what these two would be capable of in this day and age.

JET

Critically panned, most infamously and notably by everyone’s favourite pretentious music blog Pitchfork, JET certainly didn’t have the best reputation with people who ‘knew what they were talking about’. Having said that, their debut album stormed onto the charts with the sort-of one hit wonder, “Are You Gonna Be My Girl?” and instantly captivated everyone. The foot-stomping, hand-clapping, riff-heavy garage anthem still plays in bars today and there isn’t a soul who won’t get up and dance. JET were lost amongst all the other ‘The’ bands (White Stripes, Hives, Vines, Von Bondies, and so on and so forth) but these Aussies were what they were and gave what they gave; throbbing melodic garage pop with torn edges. I loved every minute of it. Fuck you too, Pitchfork.

Fruit Bats

Eclectic folk/pop outfit Fruit Bats only called it quits last year, and I can still feel the pain of the split like a fresh wound. My other other favourite Chicago-based folk band, Fruit Bats were a small and highly underrated band with lineup changes over the years but an uncompromising easy, breezy twee sound with clever songs involving losing teeth in earthquakes and taking a date to see Three Dog Night at the fairgrounds. I never had the opportunity to see Fruit Bats live, and I’ll always wonder how it would have been to sit in the audience drifting away to Eric D. Johnson telling me he’ll be the lump of sugar in my tea.

The Kinks

If only. If only the Davies’ could resolve their differences and all other problems with these garage rock Gods could be solved just so they could hit the stage one more time. Despite outlasting decades and decades however, and releasing great album after great album, changing sounds and adapting to the times and doing everything right to keep current, the fact remains that the Kinks cease to survive. And that’s a shame. I think the world needs a Kinks reunion. Irreconcilable differences between genius collaborators is a creative, professional and music fandom tragedy. I’d love to see the Kinks live once again and everyone else would, too. Everyone that is, except for Ray and Dave. Come on, guys. Patch it up.

Led Zeppelin

I’ve often said that the one concert that at this point might blow my mind the most, it would be The Rolling Stones playing anything, anywhere. I would do anything to see them. And that’s only because they’re still together, and Zeppelin are not. I cannot even imagine seeing Jimmy Page and Robert Plant together on the same stage, doing what they do, even past their prime. I was born in the wrong decade, I think to myself sometimes. And it’s only because I didn’t end up an 80lb Zeppelin groupie watching Robert Plant stagger around on stage as if he’s possessed and Jimmy Page melting off my frail drug-addled face. It’s a cruel world.

Revisiting some of my concert memories.

I’ve been thinking a lot about live music recently. On Thursday, I saw Jack White at the beautiful, albeit impossible-to-get-to Deer Lake Park, and it was siiiiiiick. I remember the last time I saw Jack White; Sasquatch, in 2012. It was the first time the world had seen Jack White on his own, and at that show, he blew my freaking mind with amped-up, slick real rock show versions of garage rock White Stripes classics. I was bouncing. I was screaming. I was singing. This was no different. Both outdoor shows, both great memories.

Another incredibly special show I saw within the last couple of months was Arcade Fire at Squamish. It was the first time I saw Arcade Fire and I couldn’t even come down from my excited, heightened panic attack mode when Win Butler & Co. hit the stage. They burned their way through a riveting, exciting, mind-altering 90 minute set that played out like a greatest hits reel with a few surprises, confetti, five drummers, feathers, performance art, shiny pianos and everything in between. It was a mix of a proper rock show and an odd, freaky, left-field artsy performance, equal parts art gallery and arena. I was in the front alongside other hardcore fans of the band I had also waited my whole damn life to see and on top of everything else, the super moon was bright and full and in its full, hot-white glory. I felt like I was made of crystalline stars, a spirit entity watching myself and all of these other people from above enjoying the best damn rock show of the whole summer, maybe ever. It was that good. I was on another planet. It was an out-of-body experience.

What about that time two then-good friends of mine finally, finally, after years of all of us growing up and salivating over the second coming of the 90s British invasion, getting to see Oasis live which, as it turned out, was mere moments before their official break-up? Not only was Oasis playing, for which we had floor seats, but THEE Ryan Adams, one of my top two favourite artists ever, was the opening in what turned out to be a sick, amazing, life-altering double bill. For me, Ryan Adams was it and I remember how I felt hearing “When the Stars Go Blue” live for the first time (he didn’t play it the first time I’d seen him and the Cardinals two years prior). When Oasis hit the stage, we bonded. More than we ever did before. This was our youth up there, in all their snarling, mock-teddy boy, accented egotistical glory. Liam, who I think is the lesser Gallagher, stands on stage as if he has more swagger than anyone on the planet and when you see him up there, hands behind his back, belting out classic songs from Definitely, Maybe and What’s the Story Morning Glory?, you believe him. 

Or the time I saw AC/DC, a long-time favourite for one reason or another (my reason mostly being the guitar-wielding majesty that is Angus Young), and during the show there was an all-out thunderstorm that drenched and flooded Commonwealth Stadium with water. We were all soaked. It was windy. Thunder and lightning struck. And these 60-70 year old rock stars took breaks to mop the water off-stage in between songs and then just kept going. At one point during the encore, little Angus, shirt off and soaking wet, stood on a rising podium that towered over the crowd, and played something like a 15-minute solo up there. Just before we all, fists in the air, sang along to “For Those About to Rock” as the canons went off.

These are memories. These memories are a part of why I love music so much. Music is about the creation of memory; whether a song reminds you of an ex you were in love with or a magic summer with friends or that time your face melted off during a Nels Cline guitar solo, these are reasons why concerts are the greatest and most momentous fun one could possibly ever have. Sharing the air with your favourite musicians, sharing a memorable experience with thousands of strangers, sharing and feeding off one another’s exuberant and high high energy, could not possibly get any better.

Drunk Musings.

I’m drunk and i’m writing because I don’t think I write often enough when I’ve been drinking. I don’t really know what drunk writing looks like. I guess for some people it’s an emotional outpouring and for others it comes across as a series of disconnected letters that don’t make any sense. Admittedly I keep making typos and I keep having to go back to edit everything. So that’s annoying.

I remember one time my ex was over at my house as were two of my good friends and we were getting so trashed I was seeing double. When they left, I somehow managed to scrawl something down in my journal about the evening that later on, scarcely looked like writing at all and also, it didn’t make any sense at all. I marvelled at it because it was something I had done that I had no control over.

I like sometimes, not being in control of, or conscious of, your own body. It allows you to live someone else’s life and you end up paying the price for that other life later but in the moment, it is wonderful.