Day Three Hundred and Eight: The Day the Music Died

For me at least, anyway.

I went to see Rise Against tonight for Daily Dischord. The performance was good and the review will follow very soon. Something else happened, however. I apologise for any typos; it’s late and I’m tired.

Since the age of 12 I’ve let music define my life. I’ve let it define who I am, what I do and the kind of person I should be. Over the years my desire to want to be involved with music never waned, but for a while I was set in my ways. Content with the music I had, liked and enjoyed. Probably a bad thing if you’re in a band, really, because influence should be a process. It’s a process that’s not just tied to aging, but tied to the kind of music you like as you age. In the past year or so that changed and I can honestly say that 2011 has been the year when I’ve been involved with music more than any other year of my life.

This is beside the point. Tonight, Jennifer and I saw Rise Against play for the seventh time (I think, might be more). The performance was adequate. More than adequate, in fact it was pretty good. A review will follow shortly, actually. Despite favouring their latest two records they put on a typically good show. The show was basically sold out, which is always pretty good for a punk rock show even if it’s a bigger venue. Anyway, something interesting happened. As I looked at the people around me I could see just how much this music meant to them. This might seem like a strange observation given my opening lines, but I don’t think I’ve ever truly paid attention to this in others because I, like those people, go to gigs to let it all out to music I identify with.

The crowd were pretty young (at least, the majority of those down the front were; the myth about older people standing at the back continues to contain a large element of truth) and all around us people were screaming their lungs out, hugging their friends, dancing around, crowd surfing and just generally engaging on the kind of catharsis only a punk rock show brings. For a long, long time I was one of these people. I would go see Rise Against, a band I think are probably my favourite band ever, and add my voice to theirs, pouring my heart out, engaging completely with what was unfolding on stage.

Tonight, however, all I felt was profound sadness. As I looked upon those emptying their emotions to their favourite songs it dawned on me that I had lost that connection with the band, with their music and, I guess most importantly of all, with that part of my youth. Maybe I’ve grown cynical but the music they’re producing now just doesn’t have the same effect on me as it used to and because of that, it’s difficult to really bring myself to engage with it the way I used too.

A part of my youth has vanished. A band that once meant so much to me, a band that inspired me to create my own band, write my own music and to get involved with music as much as possible have ceased to matter to me anymore.

As I sit here writing this I now realise that tonight was not the moment the connection was severed. No, on reflection it seems it’s been a gradual process. It’s not because they’re more popular now. It’s not because their message has changed over the years. It isn’t because they’re playing bigger venues. The fact that they’re on a major label hasn’t got anything to do with it. Their music has changed. Their intentions haven’t changed, the message remains the same, but the method of delivery is different from what it used to be. They’ve become a hard rock band – a very bloody good one, as things go – and they are no longer create music I feel that I can hold close to my heart any more.

Other bands fill that void for me now.

It was great to see such passion from others tonight; however it just reminded about how much things have changed. Those first four records will always be dear to me, though.
Tonight, their music died for me. It’s time to mourn it.


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