show # 174 12/31/09 @ Firestorm Café, Ashville NC
The Toe Steppers / Various collections of musicians playing Klezmer music, a European folk characterized by fiddle and accordion / Imperial Can / Delay
Somehow my show going streak of 2009 has passed in what felt like less than a year’s time. In quick review, it’s a resonating blur, laden in feedback and distortion. My ears are ringing. I’m glad I’ve documented the bands, a few places and people, the late nights, the happenings, the hopeful strides, the short comings and stumbles; part of the story but not the whole. This is simply my constructed version of how I took in the experiences and then tried to write something coherent and cohesive about them.
The last show took me through every emotion. I was excited to see and play in a new city. I walked around the little town down in a valley between mountains. I was charmed. I was forced to spend money at the record store.
Then I was worried, stressed, and anxious when I found out we would be last- after all the locals. I wasn’t sure if donations would happen or if the PA would cut it. People showed up and I felt like I had nothing to relate on. I felt like I couldn’t connect with anyone. Their extended family punk scene of familiarity, derby hats, and dreads felt distant. I drank a beer in the car alone and saw kids smoking outside the window. I wondered if there was any meaning behind this punk thing beyond home rolled cigarettes and my no name beer.
I went back inside and as the Klezmer bands played, I realized something important to hold on to. I am alive. I am allowed this air today. It’s worth it all to live a day. Instead of thinking about myself and our set, I decided to just be a person in a new place around new people. I gave myself the chance to be shy if I felt that way, or to be brave if I wanted, and I wanted to be brave. I could let the situation overwhelm me or participate in it. So as some sat on the wall, Austin and I stood up. We both ended up having partners with in 5 minutes in an up tempo waltz. Though we knew most people would leave before we played, we decided we still wanted to feel alive rather than shut off and bored. It took some convincing of myself to feel better, but it worked.
People left, but we played for a good handful of enthusiastic people. I was at ease but teeming with energy that could never be exhausted. I was at home with Jesse and Austin. Amanda and Pat. Chris and Adrienne. All the kids and their rolled cigarettes. Our songs and our bands. Our zines and our lives. Our constructions to pass the time. If I take anything from this, it’s that this thing that I call punk is ours. It is possessed by us. It is defined and defended by us from THEM (our oppressors). It is molded by our actions. Stretched. Sometimes broken apart, sometimes pushed into new shapes or sculpted into something familiar. Pushed along. Ours.
We drove home in the dark. A rock slide closed a highway and gave us an extra two hours in the car en route to Kentucky and then home to Columbus, Ohio. There is a show on the third day of 2010 at Monster House. I’ll probably attend, though I am obligated to because I booked it, right? Thanks for reading.