The blood from your nose running hot in your fingers

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Shearwater – You As You Were

Some thoughts on seeing Shearwater and Dinosaur Jr at The Observatory in Santa Ana on Oct. 10:

  •   Concerts start late. No other genre of event starts an hour and a half after the time printed on tickets. But everyone expects it with concerts. The room was only half full until right before Shearwater started.
  •   This means a lot of standing. I’m good at standing. I’m a competent stander. But recently I bought these new boots. They make me look fantastic and I get excited to wear them (even if they aren’t fuck-off menacing), but they suck to stand in. By the end of the show my toes were going to sleep.
  •   Before the show there were two lines. I asked the barkeep what the other one was for, and he said the singer from Thrice is playing worship music somewhere else in the venue. Humans have let some pretty awful things happen throughout history, and this ranks among them.
  •   I paid $9 for a PBR tallboy. They’re like two bucks at 7-Eleven. That’s an impressive markup. So impressive I forgot to tip the bartender. I’m pretty sure this makes me an awful human being.
  •   Shearwater played mostly Animal Joy material. That album is life-affirming. I felt all of the feelings, and I felt them strongly. My torso was full to bursting with liquid emotion, and I could feel it rising in my throat, threatening to choke me. I bet if I had taken off my shirt, my chest would have glowed.
  •   Rob Delaney talks (earnestly, I think) of better understanding his parents’ divorce after seeing a live dance performance. My parents are still together, but I felt like a wholer human being after the show.
  •   Chatter between songs was minimal. Sample dialog: “Dinosaur Jr will melt your faces in short order. First, we’re going to play you some songs of sadness and love.”
  •   That was Jonathan Meiburg. He makes me jealous. He’s tall, handsome, and has a voice like monsoon rains in the jungle. I always imagine he must have been nervous starting a band, though. Shearwater’s music is earnest and profound, and if you don’t hit the mark every time his voice would just make it sound ridiculous.
  •   After the blistering vocal performance of “Eternal as fire” on Insolence, the guy behind me scoffed during the brief musical pause. The feeling I felt then was anger.
  •   It must be tough as an opening band. You can kill it every night and still everyone (besides me, in this case) is waiting for you to go away so someone they like more will come on. That’s got to grind you down.
  •   This tour is sans Kim or Thor. I don’t know where they are or why they are not along. I missed them.
  •   Everyone in Shearwater wore jeans. I find tour apparel interesting. You’ve got to pick something comfortable but trendy, and it’s got to hold up dirty and wrinkled and frayed. This is your look, your brand. I don’t imagine bands get to wash their clothes too often. I remember David Bazan excitedly telling me about these self-drying socks he bought. He would rinse them in the hotel sink every night and they’d be ready and dry in the morning.
  •   Besides clothes and instruments and amps, tour vans have to fit extra drum sticks and guitar strings and gaffer tape. I imagine a slowly dwindling pile as the band incrementally goes through its stock. Planning ahead for months’ worth of guitar strings is probably not what people think about when they start a band.
  •   Shearwater closed with a cover, but I didn’t know it. Any help?
  •   Dinosaur Jr’s guitar tech has his arm in a sling, which he awkwardly worked around when setting up. Then he pulled it out when tuning the guitar. He had shoulder-length hair and was balding.
  •   All of Dinosaur Jr’s roadies had long hair. Part of befriending J Mascis, I suppose. One of them, when he leaned down to help pull the rug under the drum set forward, displayed a huge amount of crack.
  •   Murph, the drummer, wore khaki shorts. He has old man legs. It reminded me of how old these guys are — mid-40s. They’ve been making music since the early ’80s, persevering through decades and band-breakups and age and the grind of touring. There are some people who will just keep at their craft no matter what. I like that. I like to think that artists would toil away even if there was no money involved, quietly writing and editing and revising during nights after work under a sickly-yellow light of a bulb not nearly strong enough.
  •   Anyways, Murph is bald. He has to use a rag to wipe the sweat off his dome between songs. Mascis and Lou Barlow, when they nod their heads to noodle, hide behind their hair. It’s an odd juxtaposition.
  •   The shitbrains teenager behind me kept describing Shearwater as “flatline.” This puzzled me; Dinosaur Jr is as atonal as rock gets. There’s color in the guitar solos, but the rest is as straight and abrasive as it comes. What a shitbrain.
  •   J Mascis abandons his trademark lenticular look when he plays. I’ve never seen him without glasses on and it made me slightly uncomfortable, like I was watching him get ready for sleep or a shower (the only times I take off my glasses).
  •   Lou does all the talking, even though Mascis sings the majority of the songs. It’s a weird dynamic, especially if you remember that Mascis once fired Barlow.
  •   During one song, a guy stuck his arm out next to my head and recorded the thing on his iPhone. I will never understand this generation’s need to (shittily) document everything it experiences. I don’t like bootlegs. Bands spend months and thousands of dollars so that albums have the best version of songs on them. Why listen to the unedited version? The joy of concerts is the experience, the volume, the tremors. All of that is lost as soon as it’s crammed into an iPhone.
  •   I hate encores. I’ve been to several dozen concerts in my life, and can only think of one or two that didn’t do them. Listen, bands. Be honest. Play your allotment of songs and then trudge off. Encores hold negligible power if everyone does them every time. This frustrates me. We can all see the guitar and bass tech not breaking the set down yet. We can all hear the absence of house music. It’s this ritual we’re put through despite both sides knowing there’s no surprise and neither benefiting. Stop pretending.
  •   I chatted with a bouncer who looked like a black Joseph Gordon-Levitt. He said he doesn’t even check who is playing, just shows up every night. He also said he’s never had to jump over the fence at the front to tackle anybody, which disappointed me. Midway through Shearwater’s set, someone toked up in the middle of the standing pit. The bouncers have to see that shit, so I imagine they just don’t care. Probably ends up being tricky legal ground for venues if people keep getting arrested for weed.
  •   I picked up Animal Joy from the merch table because I didn’t own a physical copy yet. That means I’ve only ever listened on my speakers or headphones. What I learned on the drive home is that my car speakers are awful.

[Animal Joy / vertoiseau]

One Response to “The blood from your nose running hot in your fingers”

  1. Shearwater ended their set with a cover of REM’s “These Days”. And that line in “Insolence” is actually “effortless as fire”.

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