Listening the past
Today I went for a walk to get groceries, and decided to listen to music rather than podcasts for a change. Out of nowhere, I figured I’d search for the Giants of Science, a band from Brisbane that were prolific in the early 2000s. As I listened to their album History of Warfare, my brain was on fire with memories and all sorts of emotions about music.
I knew every single word without fail, and I haven’t listened to this band in a good couple of years now. I remembered all the sweaty shows I went to at the Zoo, the basement at the Alliance, the Healer, all the boat cruise gigs, so many little venues. And the Giants were far from the only Brisbane band I would go to see – I went to a lot of shows back then when I was young and without responsibility – Iron On, Turnpike, Extra Foxx, Gazoonga Attack, Double Chamber.. I saw so many shows I even maintained a website where I’d put photos and the like. It’s long gone now, but the Wayback Machine gives you an idea of how terrible at writing I was then. (And man it was weird having a website blog? I think by this point i’d mostly shifted to Livejournal, but hey.)
Back to the point – that I feel like, in a lot of ways my music tastes are stuck in the early-mid 2000s. I love all these bands that were never really known outside of Australia (or sometimes even Brisbane) – it’s hard to find them on streaming sites. It’s why I ripped so many of the CDs I had packed up in my mum’s garage. It’s a time capsule of great importance for me.
My early musical tastes were pretty much whatever was top 40. Once the national indie radio station Triple J was available where I lived, I migrated to a lot more “alternative” listening and got big into grunge. By the time I was out of high school, I made friends that had far wider and more interesting musical tastes – my BFF (BF at the time) got me listening to a LOT of punk. And then we moved to Brisbane together and would be at multiple gigs every week seeing these fabulous, loud guitar-driven bands – neither of us drank and I would turn up with my digital camera and be documenting to the Nth degree.
Every time I listen to any of these bands it feels like Brisbane summer. No matter how much time has passed, how many of these bands are non-existent now (most likely 99% of them), it’s this tangible link to that really formative time in my life. In the mid-2000s I started listening to the CBC Radio 3 podcast, which served up a load of fantastic Canadian independent music for me to learn about. That introduced me to one of my (if not my actual) favourite bands, the Weakerthans – along with Stars, the Stills, New Pornographers, Tokyo Police Club, Sloan and more. I think this is about where I stopped really having the energy to get into a lot of new music. My tastes are narrow, I will admit – I love guitar and rock music and punk. Indie rock more than pop. (I think the Magnetic Fields might be the outlier among this all.)
I don’t feel that struggle to keep up with what is good right now, to feel like I have my finger on the pulse. More than anything music is a comfort for me to fall back on, to be familiar and to be there when I need it. I’ll throw on some Canadian indie playlists while board gaming now, or if I’m cleaning around the house probably some instrumental ambient rock; when I’m reading, it’s jazz, especially. But in the sticky hot days of Toronto summer, I realize that I tend to lean toward the bands of my days of musical passion back in Brisbane. I don’t want to let go of it – and I realize, that probably, it’s always going to be tucked away in the back of my brain when I start up a song and start singing along. I’m happy here.