I’m trying (and failing) to come up with a reason why being less neurotic and obsessive is a bad thing.

What things have changed as you’ve aged? Naturally you’ll have a great many aspects of your personalities that’ll shift and twist. Things that appeal when you’re a teenager, for instance, will be nigh intolerable when you hit your mid 20s. Maybe it’s standards expanding, rising. Perhaps a series of bad experiences narrow your tolerance. Would you put up with the same issues when you know you can do better? When you know you deserve better? Has your bullshit meter found true north? Or have you gotten myopic after doubling down on what you like? Forgoing what you don’t?

I don’t see concerts the same way I used to. I’ve always been a huge fan of live music. When I lived down in Rotorua I put a startling proportion of my meagre salary towards catching live acts. I’d drive two and a half hours once or twice a week to see bands back in the “city”. Dirty Projectors, Animal Collective, Amanda Palmer, Passion Pit, ISIS, Mountain Goats, Faith No More, Muse, Portishead, etc etc etc. When I went to big stadium gigs (haven’t felt the need to do that in many years), I’d always get there earlier and catch the openers. I’d research the gigs beforehand, guess at the setlist. I’d devour back catalogues and hit an almost admirable (if not alarming) level of obsession before seeing any act. I got a hell of a lot out of of these performances, because I had little else to invest in (both financially and socially. I lived in Rotorua for fuck’s sakes).

Time has changed, so has my response to live music. I check set times and make sure to skip the opener. I don’t cram in study the night before a gig. I’m not sucked in the same way I was. A performance has to hit a certain peak in order to really affect me on the level it used to. I’ve seen so many gigs that it’s rare for them to be dramatically life changing. They’re fun. If a gig gets cancelled or I don’t get accreditation, it’s far from cataclysmic. A late gig on a school night is a hard sell and that in itself kid of disappoints me. I used to leave work at 5pm in Rotorua, drive for close to four hours (with traffic) to Auckland, get to a gig at 9pm, leave around 2am and crash on a friend’s couch. I’d then get up at 6am for a 9am shift back in Rotorua. It was a character-building time that influenced a ton of my values moving forwards. I wouldn’t trade those memories for a really good chocolate chip cookie. Considering my love of baked goods, that should have some gravitas.

I still love live music, I don’t want to downplay that. I’m certainly not as desperate though. Perhaps it’s being in a larger North American city, where every week seems to be a deluge of international acts. I don’t have to try so much any more. They come to me on the regular. There are more music acts than I could ever hope to catch, but I see far fewer. Maybe my bucket list has dwindled. The allure of seeing an act I’ve already witnessed live competes with the need for a good night’s sleep. Maybe it’s even the gig reviewing aspect. If I’m seeing live music there’s a tinge of disengaging. I need to step back in order to gain a less personal perspective of the performance. I think about the crowd and how they felt rather than forming such an intimate connection. Because I know instinctively I’m gonna get less from the experience, I shield myself from feeling too intensely about it.

If I sound disillusioned and cantankerous, that’s a frightening prospect. Then again, change is scary. Finding your entrenched values evolving over time can be isolating if you pride yourself on the way you always were. How do you continue to define yourself as you grow distant from your past? I guess that’s something only you can decide. Things being different doesn’t have to carry negative connotations, even if it can feel like that at times.

Then again, it’s not like everything has gotten worse, right?


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