I can’t think of anything more Kiwi than some dude having COVID-19, thinking yeah, but I don’t want to miss this Tool concert and going anyway.
I used to love Tool. I still like the band, but I’m definitely not a fanatic. I keep forgetting that they even released a new album last year. For a long long time, metal was my thing. Rock/metal/prog was my wheelhouse, and I wasn’t interested in much outside of that. These days my tastes have sprawled. I’m less of a rock/metal listener, or rather I’ve shirked away from the more mainstream outlets. I like indie pop/rock, I’m into R&B/hip hop/rap. I’m big on electronic music in a range of flavours. I’ll even listen to big pop artists if I like what they’re putting out. I think out of principle, me at 20 would never have given a Beyoncé album the benefit of the doubt. I was too stuck in my ways, I bought into dumb rhetoric, and kept my tastes rigid. Over time that opened up, but it all stems from one interaction.
Back in university, there was this girl I thought was very cute and cool. She had short cropped hair. How do I know this? Because I wondered if “cropped” was the right term, googled it, and one of the first results was this picture, which looks quite similar to how she did. She also had a green Radiohead sweater, and carried kind of a “scene” vibe around her. I crushed on her from afar, but basically never talked to her. I didn’t think she was standoffish, but I definitely thought she was too cool for me. Like most straight beta male unrequited crushes, I had no idea who she was, but I thought I did. Anyway, one time at the student bar I walked up to her and said hey, I know you’re into indie music. I feel like I’d probably get into it, but I don’t know where to start. Is this something you could help with? She immediately pulled out a notepad and a pen, and wrote down about 12 bands to check out. Flaming Lips, Sufjan Stevens, etc. However, the first band on the list was The Decemberists.
I went home and downloaded The Crane Wife, their most recent album, then pressed play. This is what I heard. I was instantly hooked. It sounded different from my regularly scheduled diet of rock and metal. I liked the tune, the harmonies were great and the lyrics were fantastic. I wasn’t used to so many evocative and polysyllabic words in my songs, or the concept of translating a classic folk tale to song so accurately. I loved the album to bits, and I went through the list. I soon found Sufjan Stevens’ Sufjan Stevens Invites You To: Come On Feel the ILLINOISE and it all cemented. “Chicago” won my heart over, and I couldn’t get enough. I ravenously explored music blogs and review sites. I asked other friends for recommendations, and loaded them onto my computer. My tastes shifted over time like Pangea, and my mind boggled with all the new and diverse music out there.
I can’t remember the last rock album I really dug into. Now I listen to music, and if it hooks me I listen more. I’m less bound to genre than I am finding what ignites me. I’m less about “Down with the Sickness”, and if I was down with the sickness, I wouldn’t be desperate enough to bring a HIGHLY INFECTIOUS VIRUS into an arena that holds 12,000 people.
What a goddamn tool.