Tonight I saw Arcade Fire, a band I affixed great emotional significance to a long time ago. I recall lonely nights of drinking to, jerking off to, or crying to their first album Funeral. Of thinking that the swell in each song would carry me away to the place I was meant to be at. At 21 years of age and meandering into adulthood, their gospel held truths that I was meant to study and adhere to. When Neon Bible came out, it was the same thing. An organ meant proclamation. Of what? I’m not sure. Either way they were the gateway to the beginning of it all. Or so I thought.
So tonight, in a large field in the middle of Austin, I closed my eyes and tried to stir the nostalgia for a time I looked to songs for answers, but it just wasn’t coming. I closed my eyes more tightly and concentrated as hard as I could. I kicked the dirt over the memories of lying on my bedroom floor hitting repeat on “Rebellion (Lie)” thinking that eventually the song might make me burst into a million tiny pieces. I dug deep for the memory of when I saw Arcade Fire alone in Los Angeles, a pilgrimage to find direction when I was considering leaving the life I knew and head anywhere else. But tonight, I had no great epiphany, no dropping to the knees. Instead I listened, I enjoyed and nothing changed.
And I realized, my life currently has no soundtrack.
Music is an important part of the human experience. Without it, I believe we’re nothing. It acts as the backdrop to the story of our lives, often changing from chapter to chapter or staying with us for a lifetime. For me, I have my bands that have stayed constant: Talking Heads never wavering at the number one spot, David Bowie, Fleetwood Mac, Paul Simon, Frank Zappa, and Elvis Costello. All the tried true standards. Then there are the ones that came and went, the flings that represented my age and my setting: Dave Matthews Band (high school), Ben Folds Five (high school), Arcade Fire (LA), Modest Mouse (LA), Bloc Party (LA), Wolf Parade (LA) etc. Hey, don’t judge.
Currently, all I have are my staples and nothing else. Nothing else that has quite inspired me.
I live in the city known as “the live music capital of the world” and I’m completely clueless as to what is going on in music. Just like when I lived in LA, when you live in a city that is built around a certain industry you tend to shy away from it, overwhelmed with it’s vice-like grip on the city. When everyone scrambles to eat up the daily concerts and various festival line-ups, I retreat, overwhelmed by it all. Where do I even begin? What if I don’t like the band? What if it’s crowded? What if it’s too loud? What am I even looking for anymore?
I’m losing my edge, but I’m not really sure I ever had it. Maybe I’m not necessarily even concerned with that. I kind of miss the days where I needed music as an emotional crutch. I’m no longer in a place where I seek it and I realize how much I am missing out on. Being in a substantially happier state than I was in my early 20’s has left me listening to light and fluffy stuff, songs I can dance to and make me smile. There is nothing wrong with that, but watching Arcade Fire tonight made me realize that I no longer listen to anything that stirs me.
Am I afraid to go to that dark place again?