I have very intense nostalgia with music. I’ve had many conversations with my bandmate Ben (among other friends) about this: so many songs and bands that I listen to bring back vivid memories and evoke powerful emotions.
In particular, Toronto has a special place in my memory banks when it comes to musical nostalgia. Since I was thirteen years-old, when I attended every punk concert I could, I have been coming to Toronto regularly for the music scene. Kool Haus, Sound Academy and The Phoenix seemed to always host a show that I could get into, whether it was NOFX at Sound Academy or Streetlight Manifesto at The Phoenix. There was always a show I was interested in.
That being said, my most intense memories stem from more recent times. For example, whenever I listen to Cage the Elephant, I can’t help but think of Matt Schultz (the lead singer) walking from the stage to the back balcony on the audience’s hands and then proceeding to climb up the balcony and stage diving right back into the crowd; stuff like that.
One of my favourite memories always comes back whenever I listen to The National’s High Violet. I had the pleasure of seeing them play the Air Canada Centre when it was quartered for theatre seating. Near the end of their set they unplugged everything and played Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks with the entire audience singing it. It was insane. This massive venue felt so intimate, everyone knew the words and everyone had the respect to be quiet enough to hear the song itself. It was one of those shows that you walk away from and all you can think about is music. Playing music, writing music, what can make your live show better and how long you will need to practice to be that good.
It’s also weird going to old venues that used to host punk shows like Kool Haus, because all I think of when I’m around that area is seeing Julian Casablancas perform there and actually meeting him. Seeing him walk outside after waiting for an hour or so after his set was such a rush. Why you might ask? Because he plays music and music has that much power over me.
Along with memories from live shows, Toronto also hosts both good and bad memories of nights out. It’s the music from each memory that allows me to relive those moments.
The first time I went to Sneaky Dee’s wasn’t for a show; it was for some cheap beer. I had just turned nineteen so a bunch of friends and I decided to give Sneaky Dee’s a try. Sitting down we instantly loved the vibe but what really made it perfect was what they were playing. It started with Death From Above 1979 and Rancid but then the Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ It’s Blitz came on. Hearing it wrapped a perfect night into a neat little box. The nice thing is that I can open up that box and peer inside whenever I want – all I have to do is listen to It’s Blitz.
Some songs can bring up huge regrets. The important part of this story is that Warpaint is my favourite band. My favourite bass player is Jenny Lee Lindberg and one of my all-time favourite drummers is Stella Mozgawa. That being said, it’s easy to say that one of the biggest regrets in my life was missing Warpaint play at Wrongbar back in early 2011. Pat (the New Hands guitarist) was going to see the show but it took place before I turned nineteen and of course the show was nineteen plus. He asked me to go but I didn’t want to be that guy. You know the one who doesn’t get in and everyone feels sorry for him as he does the walk of shame into the sunset.
The morning after his show I noticed a few new photos that he had posted on Facebook. He had a photo with Jenny and a photo with Stella. When he came home he told me about the conversations they had, how great the show was and how they didn’t ID… of course, right? Now whenever I hear Warpaint or think about Wrongbar I immediately remember this huge mistake. Music doesn’t really help this moment of weakness, if anything it makes it worse. This seems to make things more interesting though because it shows how powerful music is – it can make you feel awful or sad but that just makes you want to continue listening.
The moral of my story is this: where ever you may be, whether it’s Toronto or Chicago, Rio or Paris, make August a month of awesome by attending as many shows as you can and increasing your record collection tenfold. Make sure you’ve got the perfect soundtrack to your 2012 summer memories.
Evan Bond (Bassist for New Hands)