Beer and Pavement

When I used to go out…

Posted in Life, Live by SM on August 12, 2010

…I would know everyone that I saw. Now I go out alone if I go out at all[1].

Or so goes a popular lyric from a popular alt-rock track from a few years ago. It’s also how life turns out for the aging hipster[2]. We make choices to get jobs and have kids. Our bodies don’t put up with the stresses of late-night living and three or more beers in an evening the way they used to. Our attention span is not capable of reading Pitchfork and updating our blogs.

I used to go out fairly regularly. I’d go see bands, especially local bands. I did this whenever I could afford it in college[3]. I even did it as often as possible when I lived an hour or more from any city with the capacity for such things. I can remember several shows in which I fell into bed at 3 AM, only to get up around 6:30 AM or so to prepare for the day teaching fifth graders. The point is that I made a regular effort regardless of daily responsibilities to see local bands play music.

That doesn’t happen anymore. For one thing, I moved to a much smaller market with fewer good bands. So, it took me a while to catch on with these locals. And even when I did catch on, I found it difficult to make it out to shows where bands didn’t go on until 9 or 10 at night. Sure, I was invited out or promised to see a friend’s band, but occasions when that actually happened became few and far between.

This week, I had no familial responsibilities to keep me in. Work is relatively light in the summer and there was actually a show. So, I made the choice to see a local band for once.

Nonreturner is an outfit on local label/co-op Yards & Gods. The band, and most of the bands on their label, are quite prolific. But it’s not just quantity they produce, it’s also of a high quality. This is pretty amazing considering that they rarely tour[4] and they’re giving away their music for free when it’s worth way more than that[5].

Of course, these facts just make them candidates for favorite local band status. I went through several local bands back in the day. None of them toured really. They were all on tiny labels that were labels in name only. They all made a lot of great music. While not all of it was free, it certainly was cheap. Sometimes, if you would buy a cassette tape, they’d fill it for you[6].

Anyway, Nonreturner had the unfortunate honor of opening for an act that didn’t even bother to show up. It was a hot, Monday night in the summer in a college town. Plus, before the venue reduced the cover, it was $8, a rather steep price for such an event. Well, I showed up anyway. Zach and Carrie[7] of Nonreturner have been regulars in my blogs’ comment sections and I owed them at least $4 and a late bedtime[8].

I’m glad I did go out. Despite there being maybe 15-20 people in attendance and the bad metal band that played after them, Nonreturner were pretty good. Bands like Broken Social Scene and anything Bradford Cox came to mind as textures of drums, samples, guitar, and keyboards[9] held together over Mojo’s shitty-ass soundsystem. Funny thing is, I sort of knew Nonreturner was this good. I didn’t need to see them to confirm this opinion. It was not the most inspired performance[10], but it was certainly worth the night out, making me think I should do it more often.

1Sorry, I know the Walkmen are passé for some of you and the sentiment of “The Rat” is a bit clichéd, but I couldn’t resist. This is a post going on in my head every time I go out or choose to stay in.
2This sort of points out why it’s so absurd that I use the term “hipster” so often. There was a time when the word would have applied to me. I’m just too old for that now. Or too boring.
3Which, strangely enough, was quite amazing. I gave up meat so that I could have more money to spend on such things. I remember choosing to smoke at a bar because I couldn’t afford as much beer as I could afford cigarettes. It’s funny how money would appear just so that I could go see a band.
4Well, they might have toured, but what I’m talking about are 1-2 month stints on the road. That’s how bands become nationally known. They tour the shit out of their material. Even then, it’s not guaranteed.
5So, at this very moment, there is no excuse for not going to the Yards & Gods site and downloading everything you can get your hands on. Start with Nonreturner, though.
6I once misread some liner notes that came with a 7″ and sent a guy two 90 or 120 minute cassette tapes to fill. He filled them both even though the offer was really only for one tape’s worth of music. I played the shit out of those tapes. They were so good.
7OK. So, Carrie is not an “original member” of the band, but she is taking the bassist Clint’s place in the lineup. Apparently, Clint knocked up his wife with twins. Babies get in the way of a rock ‘n roll lifestyle, but twins will destroy it.
8And I have promised fancy beers in a public forum. Twice now.
9That and Carrie plays a mean tambourine. She can also take the tambourine and do a figure-eight between her legs Harlem Globetrotters-style.
10This is not a complaint. There was no crowd and their drummer took a 10-minute shit right as they were to go on. So, it was no big deal. The music was good even if the feeling wasn’t great.

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9 Responses

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  1. Zach said, on August 12, 2010 at 5:25 pm

    Thanks Z, and thanks for coming out. Also, sorry about Logan’s poop problem. I was even half joking when I said to expect it. I think he’s doing it now to piss me off.

  2. Carrie said, on August 12, 2010 at 7:03 pm

    Next time we practice we should work on being more inspiring.

    Dude, “The Rat” is a classic. did you employ this lyric because the sound dude put it on after the set ended? Though it is a suiting sentiment.

    • builderofcoalitions said, on August 12, 2010 at 11:00 pm

      Carrie, you always have a knack for making me feel old. Has “The Rat” really been around long enough to be considered a classic? I sort of forgot about it playing after your set, but I remember pretty clearly now.

      • Carrie said, on August 12, 2010 at 11:47 pm

        modern classic. in the sense that you’re nuts not to think it’s awesome.

        not that old, really. 2004 doesn’t seem like it was that long ago.

      • builderofcoalitions said, on August 13, 2010 at 12:05 am

        Don’t get me wrong. I love the song pretty anything The Walkmen do. I figured folks were tired of that song after it was played to death for six years.

  3. Ray Cummings said, on September 10, 2010 at 6:57 am

    those first two walkmen albums? still TOTALLY BOSS.

  4. Ray Cummings said, on September 10, 2010 at 6:58 am

    also, dude, what’s your new email address again? i wanted to send you this:

  5. […] I was too old for music. That was almost ten years ago. I still wonder if maybe I’m getting too old for live shows anyway. Maybe this pandemic is the good lord’s way of saying that it’s time to cut out […]

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