Monday, December 8, 2008

See how they twist and shout.

It wasn't so long ago that music had an appreciable impact in my life. I remember, in high school and in college, making music as big a part of my life as anything at the time - the long road trips for concerts, buying CDs on their release day, talking bands and influences and learning how to play my favorite songs on the guitar.

These days, it's vastly different. In fact, I've always thought one of the markers of old age is when you fail to recognize what the kids are listening to. When that happens - well, friends, it's all over.

That's why I was refreshed and thankful for seeing The Verve Pipe on Friday. The concert at the Small Planet, a great little venue with a bar and Mrs. Pac Man, was a short trip up US-127, and - at $17 a ticket - was very affordable. These things matter when you get older.

Calley was nice enough to tag along with me. We both noticed the mix of Gen Xers and the younger crowd, and I felt the grim suspicion that most everyone was here to hear That Song.

Thankfully, my own Verve Pipe favorite - the catchy video there at the top - came only two songs into the playlist. "Hero" has long been my second most-played song on iTunes, right under Earth Wind & Fire's "September," ever since I downloaded both "Villians" and the self-titled album from Katie. It's the kind of song to start your day with, when you need a reminder that taking yourself too seriously is a disastrous way to live.

Which is why I fear the music of today's generation. The eye liner and the '80s glam and the mood swings - it's a real bummer, in ways that Mr. Cobain's never was. It's a First World bummer, and it's just not the same.

Thinking back, the Post-Grunge rock scene was a super one. Bands like Collective Soul, Live, Our Lady Peace, Sponge, Fuel, and our good friends the Verve Pipe ruled the Earth, even if they failed to gain the super-stardom of the rock scene before them. If you like four people jamming away on instruments they can actually play, it was a great time to be a music fan.

The Verve Pipe, though - they hit the big time in ways that help only VH1 pay attention to you years later. It's sad.

Yes, The Verve Piped played That Song right in the middle of the concert, but I crossed my arms and waited for it to end. And it did, just like the rest, until the band finished with a stellar classic that got the whole joint rolling. They're local boys, though, so it's not like getting the Small Planet excited was a difficult task.

The show left a big enough impression on me that now I want to check out the rest of VP's catalog. They haven't released anything new since 2001, but then I haven't really enjoyed anything (Interpol and a few others may be the rare exception) since then, either. That makes us even.

Sometimes you need a good rock show to give you that boost you've been looking for. That feeling is amplified when the music takes you back to some pleistocene era, when you knew music was worth listening to. It's been that way a lot lately, and I'm learning to accept it. I don't much listen to the radio. Luckily I have a large enough music collection to keep me occupied until Doomsday. But then old favorites spring up and introduce a few albums I had missed, and it's like discovering something new - all over again.

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