Living Tangerine vs. The Bittersweet Symphony

21 Aug

I’ve never been a huge fan of punk rock. I never fought the establishment during my teen years by rebelling against my teachers, I never did drugs, and I never believed anarchy was a suitable way to run society. I never understood how people could act so angrily, and yet by so happy. But if there’s one thing I am a big fan of, it’s my friends.

Over the last five years I’ve had a group of amazing friends that have pulled together through the miracle of punk rock music.

Nicole, who is the sweetest girl I know, makes it out to nearly every show and is always the first one to offer up her trunk for the base drum. Her boyfriend Ian is the bassist in the video blow, and if you get the feeling he’s a hardcore thrashing machine, he’s not. Nicole and Ian have been dating for ten years, and he’s the kinda guy who would give you the blood spattered shirt off his back (sorry for ruining your image, buddy).

There’s Derek, the spindly drummer who comes from a long line of punk-rockers, and he gives the best hugs imaginable, the kind with the extra squeeze on the end, just so you know he really likes you. There’s my cousin John, who is only 14 months my senior. The two of us were raised like siblings, but he is incredibly musically talented, compared to me. He’s formulated many bands over the years, and even played in a band with Ian called “The Shit-Kickers” back in ’05. Then there’s my friend Sarah. I met her in high school, and introduced her to my cousin John, who she dated for four years.

We were not so much a group of friends so much as we were a five man crusade. We were always together, but then we got jobs, and the subsequent lives that come with having jobs. Ian still kept making music and once in every so often, amidst the strangeness of getting old, and not knowing exactly where we all belonged, we would sometimes still come together to watch Ian play a show with his new band Corporation, throw back a couple beers, and remember how weird we were back them.

But in mid-July, Corporation announced that they would be breaking up, and at some point during the summer, would be playing their last show.

My heart broke. This was the day the music died for the five amgios, and though Ian would be moving on to greener pastures with his new band Ghetto-Blaster, we all knew it just wouldn’t be the same. At this point however, Sarah and John had recently broken up, and Sarah had taken off for British Columbia to spend the summer with friends. We were missing such a big part of our circle… and internally I wondered if things would be the same.

The summer progressed too quickly, and before I knew it I found myself dreading the final performance. But just as Corporation would be leaving the stage for the last time, I would as well. Nicole, Sarah, and myself had turned into a group of impromptu roadies. We were lugging equipment around, driving from gig to gig on the weekends… and I can’t tell you how cool it is to say “I’m with the band” to the guy at the door, no matter how small scale the band might be. During the summer of 2007 you couldn’t go to a punk rock show without seeing Sarah and I downing shots, and watching Nicole headbang her (then) platinum blond hair to the music.

But, oh how things had changed. Age crept up on us like a starving panther. Now we all had bills to pay, jobs to work, families to spend time with… and suddenly our lives weren’t so punk rock anymore. Somewhere along the line we had grown up, and the headbanging, party loving, good-time havin’ kids were gone. What remained were good hearted, responsible, lost adults, searching for security in an unstable economy.

Nicole had graduated school and had become a paramedic, John had chased a part-time music career to France, I was a desk-jockie at my mother’s employment agency, and Sarah was trying to find her way in the most laid back province in Canada.

Upon getting to the show, I felt lost. There was a big thunderstorm coming in, and Nicole was no where to be found in the crowded bar. The place was so loud and furious I felt on edge and jumpy. But I finally found my groove and Nicole found me. All-in-all is was a great show. They played all their greatest songs, and the crowd had plenty of energy, as you can see in the video below. There was nothing somber or sad about it. It was hot, sweaty, drunken, and happy… and they played four encores to the crowd’s command until the bar manager turned the lights off on them.

In the parking lot, I awkwardly spoke to my ex-boyfriend who had shaved off all of his jack-sparrow-esque hair, and waited for the crowd to flood from the building. Once Nicole and Ian had made their way out, I hugged Ian and Derek, congratulated them on their last show, and decided that, at nearly 12:30am on a Monday morning, it was time for me to hit the hay.

“That’s it, huh buddy?” My friend Nicole asked with that half sad look on her face.

I knew exactly what she was talking about. This was my last show too. No more punk rock, no more five amigos. “Yep… The show’s over.” I said, and walked to my car.

I had sat by and watch as all my friends seemed to scatter to the wind. And while there was something sad about that, there was something beautiful too. We leave, we lose touch, but we make progress, and we move on… and in the end there’s something to be said about that. I think they call it growing up, but I’m not quite sure.

I left the girl I used to be at “All Stars Bar & Grill” with the blue streaks in her hair, waiting to drink her life away and call it a good night. I will always have my friends: Nicole, Ian, Derek, John, and Sarah… but we will never be the same. I suppose I have punk rock to thank for that. Maybe now whenever I hear it on the radio, it’ll grant we that warm sense of nostalgia I get when I see kids in tight plaid pants with gel in their hair.

Ah… who am I kidding? I hate the radio.

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