Thursday, April 21, 2016

Game: Blouses

Even though I'm sure you've been bombarded with this fact on social media so far this year, I'm going to say it anyways: A significant amount of notable musicians have died in 2016. First was Lemmy, then Bowie, and now Prince. Each of them were titans in music and seemed to take everyone by surprise when it happened. I don't think I need to say anything about any of these musicians' legacies, because I'm far from the best to do so, but I think it's notable that all of these guys went by singular names, which speaks to their place in the public consciousness.

I don't think that it's a stretch to say that these have been the most significant celebrity deaths since Michael Jackson. They took everybody by surprise because the figures had been so omnipresent in music that people took for granted that they would always be around. They larger than life, in the truest sense of that phrase, in that their personality and influence extended beyond just them as people. They were symbols for much larger cultural and social ideas.

This might also be that these, we can group Michael Jackson in here for convenience, are also the biggest deaths that my generation has experienced, making this a new feeling. I was too young to experience Kurt Cobain or John Lennon dying, but I'm sure it was a similar feeling. It doesn't really matter if you like the person's music or not, because their influence in a particular sphere of life is undeniable.

To completely understate it, three very significant people have died this year.

Prince's death is different for me though, because I've never listened to him very much. I've spent loads of time listening to Motorhead and David Bowie, but not Prince. This has nothing to do with the quality of his music at all, he's just one of the huge figures in pop music with an extensive, critically revered back catalog that I haven't decided to dive into yet. This of course feels extra silly today, as almost everyone I know is posting memorials about Prince and I wish I could relate, but I can't really. I respect him tremendously as a musician, but it would feel cheap and trite to try and write something up praising him when I don't have a relationship with his music yet.

Instead I thought I would do something a little different to show Prince's place in the world and illustrate just how there he was for people born from like 1960 on, and speak about the random times in my life, which were all far apart, that he has popped up for me. I think it's crazy that somebody whose music I never actively looked into could still be around. Only a handful of people in the world are like that, and not many as out there and counter-cultural as Prince.

As a child, my favourite movie was Batman, which Prince, of course, provided the soundtrack for. My family rented it so much from Videoflicks that they eventually just gave us the copy. I was very young, so I didn't know who Prince was or really even make a note of the music at the time, but I watched the movie so much that eventually the music was branded onto my brain subconsciously. Prince's music is a very distinctive blend of different genres that, really, only he can do, but at the time I just understood syncopated synth bass and guitar leads as "Batman music". Whenever I would hear a Prince song later in life, it was immediately recognizable to me because of Batman.

The next instance came when I visited then-Paramount Canada's Wonderland with my cousins in the summer of grade 7 or 8. The park had installed video screens beside the lines of most of the rides that played a loop of promotional stuff for movies, TV, music, etc. One of the things that was included in this loop was the video for "Musicology" by Prince, which was either just or about to be released. I knew who Prince was as a musical figure, but still wasn't familiar with his output and hadn't placed him as the "Batman guy" yet. I was just getting into punk music at the time, so I had a very narrow scope of what I thought good music was and also thought I was the punkest kid in the whole world, so I thought the song was boring. Kind of sucks because Musicology is a pretty weak late album to be introduced to the guy with. For some reason, this memory is still so vivid, despite it being inconsequential and nothing of importance happening that day. I can't tell you anything I did, but I can tell you that "Musicology" was playing on the park's TVs that day.

Lastly, there was a time period in Kitchener when Mark had just moved out and Colin had just gotten engaged where I was mostly alone at the house. As a result, I spent a lot of time downstairs with Erik, Duff, and Jeff. One night, we were having a few beers and getting ready to go to bar while playing music videos on the TV. Jeff put on a Prince song and immediately said something like, "Are we doing this right now?!" It brings me a lot of joy to see somebody take in one of their favourite things, and this was one of those instances. I love that Prince can be a "thing" for people who you wouldn't expect him to be a thing for.

I guess that's it. Like I said, I don't really have anything I can say about Prince, but I did feel the need to throw in my little bit about him as part of this crazy trend in 2016 of terrific, game-changing artists dying. It is a singular cultural moment.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

A Novel Figure Here

I've been think about the craft of writing a lot more and I would assume that this is because of A Moveable Feast. Ernest Hemingway talks about his thoughts on writing a lot in that book. Did you notice that I've tried to sound like him in the last few posts? I've done a bad job of it, but it's true.

Something that I've done over the last little are little memoir/short stories about friends who I've fallen out of touch with. I would still consider all of them my friends, but in every case I am nowhere near as close with the person as I used to be. I think they are pretty good. I also think that I am nowhere near comfortable posting them at this time. It would not be hard for them to find them. If the people they are about read them, it would be weird.

They are very personal and I guess that is what makes it weird. But that's also what makes it good. If I feel weird about posting them, that means they're hitting on something true. Does that mean I should post them, regardless of consequence? It means that these mini memoirs are hitting on something bigger in my life and about people my age. I guess I'm projecting that last sentence onto them.

It's mostly that these are things that I would certainly not say to each of the people personally, so I would feel awful saying indirectly here. But if I felt the need to write it down, was it not worth saying?

I'm really just going around in circles here. Not even a shred of value in the whole post. Just trying to hash out when something is good, what makes it good and if me putting this writing anywhere, having the courage to do so, would in fact be the functioning quality that makes them good.

Good Luck is a very good band. I slept on them way too long. This record is just wonderful.

All Good People

"Absence makes the heart grow fonder."

It is such an overwrought cliché that even I, the king of clichés, who uses them to a fault in his writing, would never go near it. It is a phrase that has been so overused that it is now devoid of any meaning. Any beauty that may have once been associated with it is now stripped away. It is now something a person says when another is far away from something they like. To use the phrase "absence makes the heart grow fonder" is to illustrate your ineptitude as a writer.

A friend used this phrase recently. What he actually said was "I can confirm that absence DOES make the heart grow fonder." I think his girlfriend is doing a semester abroad. That must be difficult for him. Long-distance relationships can be stressful and hard. In fact, I would go as far as to say that all are. Him using this cliché has had the phrase stubbornly sticking in my mind and periodically returning a few times a day. Though I do not like to admit this, I judged him for using the phrase. I got my brief moment of intellectually superiority from thinking that I would never go near a phrase as overexposed as "absence makes the heart grow fonder".

But then I returned to the apartment for the first time in 3 days. She embraces me and kisses my neck. It feels good. It feels like it has been missing but has now completed me. I hadn't noticed, but I was missing the feeling and it was annoying me and that annoyance was building up. When she embraces me, that feeling, which was nagging me subconsciously, subsides immediately. It feels right. I tell about my dad and the dog's surgery and start to cry. It is a sad topic. She kisses me and embraces me again. I realize that she is only person who does this. This is time only for her. It is a space that no one can touch.

She smiles at me. Later she tells that when I return after being away awhile, she can't look at me without smiling, so she tries to look away. I never thought about the other side of this before. I always thought about how it felt for me when I returned. What a selfish prick I can be.

Later we lie together in bed. She is half-on top of me. Our bodies fit together perfectly. I experience the earlier feeling tenfold. It is wonderful.

And today it bothers me so much that this stupid cliché can be so pertinent. I suppose that every phrase has its place.

Monday, March 28, 2016

They Don't See the Beauty of the Power Wires

Manuscript March is almost done. I hate that name and think it is stupid. I set out to try and write every day this month and that worked out well for me. To be honest, a small part of me believed that by slyly not participating in some sort of "30 Day Writing Challenge", but still, for all intents and purposes, participating in it, that I would actually do it. A much bigger part knew I wouldn't and that is fine.

I envisioned this as a great accomplishment in which I would write a ton of stuff, which would help me in finishing my thesis. I've been prone to bouts of writer's block over the last year and thought that this would help. I don't know if I can really explain why, but it doesn't feel like I got to that great accomplishment. But I did finish my thesis. I also have put the most posts on IMU since March 2011, a month that was mostly posts consisting of music video links. Instead this month is mostly longer writing, so I guess that is something to be proud of.

I'm not sure what I want to say I got out this. I'm reading A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway right now, so writing a phrase as silly as "Manuscript March" in my main place of creative writing seems so juvenile and stupid, considering a book that good is basically pieced together from Hemingway's notebooks. But Hemingway, I am not. I'm not the writer he was, as he was one of the best ever and had such a distinctive and amazing style that is basically impossible to reproduce. But I'm also not a similar writer to him at all. Not by a long shot. I don't write about the same things or in the same way, even if I might think about those things or along those lines sometimes.

I watched 5 innings of different Blue Jays games from last year today and that is a pretty clear sign that I cannot wait for Opening Day.

Though my thesis is "done", I'm still working on it and it doesn't really feel close to "done".

If I could simply upload a song and post it here with relatively low amounts of hassle, I would post the live, full-band version of "Chimes and Church Bells" that Attack In Black recorded at CBC Radio 3. I cannot do this, so instead you'll have to imagine a wonderful riff-filled rock version of a song that is somber and just a piano on the record. OH WELL.

Defend With Me the Liberties of Day and Mysteries of Night

During last season, there were so many amazing moments for the Toronto Blue Jays that it is very easy to forget many of them in lieu of the very memorable major moments. I mean, obviously Jose Bautista throwing his bat into the other team's dugout after the most significant hit of the season is going to take precedence in my mind over something like Danny Valencia hitting a home run in Kansas City during a game the Jays lost. But the narrative of the 2015 Toronto Blue Jays was made up of so many stories that all contributed to the excitement surrounding the team.

I could rattle off about 50 different plays that made me jump out of my seat last year, but this one is one of my favourites:

The New York Yankees came to Toronto on September 21st for a three game series, trailing the Jays by 3 & 1/2 games. It was exhilarating to see the Jays in first place, but September was also a stressful month schedule-wise because of how many games would be against Toronto's division rivals. First the Jays had swept the Yanks in New York, then the Yankees came in and took two out of three in Toronto. The Jays were ahead by a nose, but that could change quickly if the Yankees won a series against Toronto. It was a weird (great) time as a Jays fan because on one hand you felt on top of the world and confident in the team, as it truly felt like they could do anything, but there was also a familiar sense of doubt that crept in at moments like these. I had seen the team collapse late in the season so many times before, so even though I knew that the Jays were the best team in the league, there was a tiny negative voice trying to drag this down in the back of my mind.

David Price started the game and it turned out to be a very tight game throughout. The Jays came into the 8th inning leading 4-0, needing the bullpen to hold the Yankees in check to secure the win. Aaron Sanchez, the team's right-handed set-up man, had had a bit of a problem with his control all season and promptly walked the light-hitting shortstop Didi Gregorius (a great baseball name). Dustin Ackely followed this with a single and suddenly there was two runners on and a win that seemed to be in-hand was very much falling out of hand. There were still no outs, so the Yankees scoring and tying the game, or worse, taking the lead, was not an unreasonable expectation. Given the playoff implications of this game, that the Yankees could jump up a whole game in the standings by winning, the atmosphere was extremely tense. I was watching the game in the apartment I share with Rebecca and I couldn't sit still. I could feel my discomfort in my chest.

For the last 22 years, the New York Yankees had routinely made an example of the Toronto Blue Jays in their yearly marches to the playoffs. I had experienced the Yankees crushing my excitement about baseball in Toronto far too many times. At one point the Jays had lost 17 straight games at Yankee Stadium. This season was different though and the Blue Jays seemed to be getting the better of the Yankees at much better clip.

Aaron Sanchez was taken out of the game and left-handed curveball virtuoso Brett Cecil was brought into the game. Brett Cecil is one of the longest-serving Blue Jays on the current roster. Once part of a promising, young starting rotation in 2010, Cecil had trouble replicating that success over the next two years and spent most of 2011-12 in AAA. Cecil found his place in 2013 after beginning the season in the bullpen and becoming a lights-out left-handed reliever for high-leverage situations. During the 2013, '14 and '15 seasons, Cecil was one of the best and most valuable bullpen pieces in all of baseball.

The at-bat he was coming into against Jacoby Ellsbury was a very high-leverage situation. This means that it would probably mean a lot to the eventual outcome of the game. Ellsbury hit a single and now the Yankees were on the board. This was not the way that Jays fans wanted a series against the Yankees at home to start. The Jays had backed themselves into a corner and basically the only way out was strikeouts because anything else would probably score runs. Striking out batters, especially when there are runners on and the batter is trying to put the ball in play, is very hard.

Tell 'em Britney:

With the score now 4-1 and there still being two runners on with no outs, Cecil struck out the Yankees excellent left fielder Brett Gardner on a beautiful curveball. I finally exhaled. One out.

Alex Rodriguez, one of the very best players in baseball history, someone who stands a reasonable chance to break the all-time home run record, came up next. Rodriguez has had a tumultuous relationship with Blue Jays fans since this happened. Again, Brett Cecil struck him out on a curveball that looked like it was by the hand of fucking Michelangelo.

Now confidence began to swell. I felt a lot of pride towards Cecil because he had been on the Jays for some of the bad years. He had come up in 2009, when there weren't many redeeming factors about the team, and had been there for the monumental disappointment of the 2013 season. On a team that was mostly made up of new faces, Cecil was a crucial link to the team's past. He also loves really bad rock/metal like Three Days Grace and Avenged Sevenfold and him being so unabashedly into something that lame just makes like him even more. He's always been a guy I rooted for and genuinely wished well on, so seeing him succeed made me really happy.

Brian McCann came up and though the stress of the first two at-bats had lessened, he still posed a huge threat, as he has always been a more than capable hitter and has significant power. At this point my thoughts had turned from "Okay Brett, get the team out of this" to "Strike this fucker the fuck out right now Brett". Once again, curveball, down.

I jumped up and down on the couch. Cecil dropping anvils on Gardner, A-Rod, and McCann consecutively to strike them all out in the top of the 8th was one of the best pitching performances I had ever seen. This is Ricky Vaughn coming in at the end of Major League. You just need to substitute "Shepherd of Fire" for "Wild Thing".

Many people often mistake the last outs recorded by the winning team to be the most impactful because they seal the victory, but that is incorrect. Brett Cecil came in here in what was without a doubt the biggest situation the season up to that point and, as they correctly mention in the above video, the biggest moment of his career. This is the type of thing that only happens once a season, if you are lucky.

This was more or less eclipsed two days when Russell Martin hit a huge 3-run home run to put the Yankees away for good in 2015, but I swear to God, I will remember Brett Cecil striking out the side as a definitive moment of the 2015 Toronto Blue Jays for my whole goddamn life.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

*mimes guitar solo*

I am heavy enough into a Sorority Noise binge right now that I want to say things like "Sorority Noise is the best active band."

Do I believe that? I don't even know. I do know that Joy, Departed has been getting a shitload of plays since I checked it out in December. I find with new music I generally go all-in on it when I first get it and then kind of intermittently come back to it when I remember to listen. Sorority Noise, on the other hand, has been something that I've put again and again and seem to never hit the point where I would rather put on something else.

I haven't had a chance to catch the band live yet,  but it's something that I'm going to make a priority now. Judging from this video, it seems like the band is at peak "tour tightness", which a level of comfortability and skill at playing together that only comes from being on tour a lot and playing a ton of shows. There aren't many better feelings than when you've been playing together for a long time and have a really good feel for what every other member of the band is doing. I wouldn't say I've ever gotten there, but Beat Noir has maybe approached that feeling a few times when we've been really active and on top of things, and it's like "Damn, this feels good." whenever you play.

They're also at a point where they've put a really good full-length record and they all know how good it is. That brings out a lot of passion when you play that songs, which is crucial in creating a intense performance. It also creates complete transparency with the crowd, which is so, so, so important. If the songs are good enough and you believe in them, it ceases to be you "performing" and more you just showing something you are proud of and have complete faith in. Look at the other members of the band singing the lyrics when they themselves are not singing. This band playing is something to behold right now. Everything is working together perfectly.

I would also recommend checking out the full set here.

Monday, March 21, 2016


With the Major League Baseball season inching ever closer and Spring Training coming closer to its end, I would like to do something I've never done on and direct you to a previous post of mine.

Last year (season) I did much more Jays writing on this blog than I ever have in the past. This is of course because the team went on a historic run, basically didn't lose for two months, won the division, won the Divisional Series in the craziest way possible and basically grabbed a country by the face and said "Look at us". I suddenly had things I could write about the team beyond "They are bad and I'm still watching". They were exciting in ways I wasn't used to.

I started a series called "Reasons to Love the 2015 Blue Jays" early-ish in the season, hoping that it would encapsulate why I loved some of the players on the team so much and maybe explain why I kept coming back to the Toronto Blue Jays year in, year out. Ultimately I kind of stopped this because I was too busy watching the games. I've got a memory tied to everything that happened and remember exactly where I was for everything. I didn't to showcase the players when they were doing a much better job of it every goddamn day on the field.

I think that I will do something along these lines this year too.

I still think the stuff I wrote is pretty good, so today I would like to point you to my post on Kevin Pillar, which, to brag a little bit, was written very early on in his 2015 coming out party.

I fucking love me some Kevin Pillar.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

We All Know the Boys and the Girls Are Doing It

While in the library the other day and scrolling through the "Various Artists" sections of my iTunes, I came across the Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure soundtrack. This album is interesting to me for a variety of reasons, so much so that I think it merits an "online zine" post about.

The first is that I really love 80's cock rock. Van Halen, Motley Crue? I love it all. This soundtrack is completely made up of cock rock and I love it for that reason.

Second is that this movie is very near and dear to me. It might even be my favourite movie. It is obviously mainly lampooning of dumb 80's metalheads/stoners, but it really is so much more. It's about achieving more than people think you can. It's about having fun with your best friend in that special way that only exists between two best friends. It's about believing in your friends and helping them achieve what you believe they can achieve. I'm sure most people wouldn't read this much into a movie about two stoners going back in time so that they can pass grade 12 history, but this movie has stuck with me so much since I saw it in elementary school and I'm pretty sure these themes are why I like it so much. Since I can be very quiet sometimes and loud and silly other times, people often mistake this for me being dumb and not knowing what's going on. Very often throughout university, people would assume that I was out to lunch in lectures, or be very surprised when I piped up with a point. That really gets under my skin, as it comes from a place of someone assuming intellectual superiority over you. Bill and Ted acing their final history presentation and sticking it to the teachers and students who are just waiting for them to fail? I've been there and it feels so good.

Third is that the movie was released in 1989, which was when the phenomenon of 80's glam and pop metal was starting to die. Motley Crue released Dr. Feelgood, which was their last album with any hits and Warrant was about to release "Cherry Pie" which was the song that basically killed "hair metal". As such, this soundtrack is a significant blip in the death of a music genre. Pop/glam metal was still a very bankable genre, as, to be honest, Bill and Ted basically only exists to make money off of the fad, so there's a ton of bands here who I'm sure were signed to major labels after Guns 'n Roses broke and then never amounted to anything. The only band with a recognizable name on the soundtrack is Extreme, who themselves were (actually are, just found out they are still active) bit players in the genre. Everyone else is a band that I have never heard of. They all sound the part and play the hair metal sound to a t, but none are significant in any way.

I love hearing stories about the music industry before Napster destroyed it, because it is so obvious that almost every executive had no idea what they were doing and were clueless about music. "Appetite for Destruction went like 25 times platinum? Well, better sign Shark Island then!" How much money did labels lose on these bands! I need to know!

I guess the funny part is that any of these bands probably could have been pretty big if they had gotten a slick music video or something, but it obviously never worked out.

I'll leave you with this song, which magically started playing over the sound system when I saw Rebecca standing by herself in the Bullring while I was meeting her for our second date*:

*Did not actually happen.

The Man is Just Playin' Hits

Last night I went to Long Winter TO, a monthly concert/art series that runs through the winter months in Toronto and is curated by Fucked Up. It was a wonderful time and I would encourage anyone reading this to go to it next year. I have three (3) takeaways from the event:

1. Drew Fairservice is a wonderful pretty princess who says only great things about baseball. He was part of a panel discussion about the Blue Jays with a few other people. WHAT A NEAT GUY.

2. There was guy who did a DJ set in the main room that had a cyberpunk gimmick that was one of the most entertaining things I've seen. He had a shimmering effect on his voice and wore a pair of goggles that had huge flashlights for eyes that shone into the crowd while tons of smoke shot up around him. He also had a guy in a shiny skull mask and a cloak who just hung out on the back of the stage. It felt like I was in a nightclub in Ghost in the Shell. It was très cool.

3. Marvelous Mark also played a set yesterday. The band played SO LOUD. He used to be in the Marvelous Darlings. I was really into the set. After listening to their full-length today, I can say that this is the first release of 2016 that I am really into. It's just wonderful.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Moments from Toronto Ska 2004-2010: Streetlight Manifesto at The Kathedral

When I discovered the bands Catch-22 and Streetlight Manifesto in grade 10, it was an illuminating experience. I was diving head-first into ska music and it seemed like every band I found was even better than the last one. These two bands, who I group together because they shared a substantial amount of members, maybe stood out the most at that time and both Keasbey Nights and Everything Goes Numb didn't leave my walkman too much.

I came across Catch-22 first. The first thing I liked was that they played really fast. Even today, the faster it is, the more I like it. If you play in a punk band, don't be a wiener. Up the tempo. I was also still learning bass guitar at this time and I was starting to get a lot better at the instrument, so I really took to anything that had a difficult or interesting bassline in it. Pretty much every Catch song had that and I learned almost every song on Keasbey, passing most of my alone time by playing the album front to back.

I also thought the lyrics were really good. In hindsight, they weren't anything that special, but at the time it certainly seemed like they were just phenomenal.

The first time I heard Streetlight Manifesto, it seemed like everything that I liked about Catch-22 had been amplified in this new band. The songs were longer, but not slower, the songwriting more complex, more intricate hornlines, and better lyrics. The basslines, in my expert opinion, having played both albums all the way through a significant amount of times, are "about the same" in terms of difficulty.

Re-listening now, the musicianship is still pretty astounding. I mean, the intro of "Failing, Flailing"? That's some big time horn work. The songs are also really long, with most hovering five minutes, but they really don't feel like it. Somehow, with 7 members who are all doing a lot on every song, nobody manages to play over each either. It doesn't sound busy. The record is kind of soured by the band's current place in music, but man is there so much good stuff on here. Damien and I used to talk about all the covers we wanted to play in our first band, Chinese Fingertraps, but we knew that we couldn't go near Streetlight. The songs were just light years beyond. Something we could only dream about one day being able to play.

Streetlight also seemed a lot more interesting to me because they were still a band, whereas Catch-22 had gone through a huge member change, which greatly impacted the sound and dynamic of the band, then put out Alone in a Crowd, which, in my 15 year-old eyes, rendered them dead to me.

For Damien and I, seeing Streetlight Manifesto live immediately became a top priority, but they seemed to skip Canada on every tour. According to my research at the time, they had only been to Canada once before. That is, until they announced at The Kathedral (R.I. fuckin' P.) in June of 10th grade. In hindsight, I didn't really wait that long to see them at all, but it seemed like a fucking eternity back then.

There was only one hitch about the show: it was on a weeknight. Since I was 15, my parents still weren't keen on me going out on a school night. Convincing them to let me go to a show on a school night would take some effort on my part. But this was no ordinary school, no. I happened to have an English final the next morning. When I saw the date, my heart sank because I knew the chances of me actually getting to go to this show would be slim.

The show sold out pretty quickly, before I even had an opportunity to get tickets. It took a little sting out of missing Streetlight Manifesto, but it still tore me apart. How was I missing this momentous event? How would I live with it? What if they did the live thing where they play "Keasbey Nights" in the middle of "Point/Counterpoint"? The regret was destroying me.

In a stroke of luck, a batch of new tickets got released for the show. I now knew that this was meant to be. Somehow, I was seeing Streetlight Manifesto. Missing the show was not an option.

I went on the offensive on my parents: I NEED to go to this show. I can't really study that much for this English exam because it's one essay question. I'll study all day when I get home from my previous exam. I already read To Kill a Mockingbird, the book we were covering, in grade 8. This is the most important thing in my life right now.

I managed to win them over and get permission to go the day before the show. I was ecstatic and couldn't believe it.

The next order business was getting some of this new batch of tickets. Damien skipped school for the first part of the day so that he could go to the Sunrise Music at Scarborough Town Centre and get them. This felt really scandalous at the time. Streetlight Manifesto meant so much to us that we would put it before our education! We pictured a huge line of kids and us getting the last pair, narrowly securing our place at the show and, by extension, Toronto ska history.

In reality, Damien was in the store by himself and described the process as "The least required thing ever". But hey, it seemed like a big deal at the time!

This was one of the first shows of the summer and that really excited me. The school year was almost over and that meant that I had a whole summer full of going to shows and having no responsibilities ahead of me. This show felt like the first part of a huge great thing that I was going to do this summer. The scene of looking at Queen Street, the setting sun shining across it, from the south side of the intersection, a line of ska kids in front of me, remains in mind. It also always felt so much better to be standing in the sun in a t-shirt and shorts instead of fighting off the cold outside of a venue.

It seemed like everyone in the line shared our excitement about what was coming. This increased exponentially when we all heard the band sound-checking "A Moment of Violence" from outside the venue.

The venue was really hot. I think the show was sold-out and if it wasn't, then it was certainly close. It was also about 30 degrees outside. A day of extreme heat like, coupled with a capacity crowd, made for a very hot and sweaty show. The only people we knew at the show were a group of girls we used to refer to as the "3-6 Gypsy Crew" because they would wear quasi-gypsy-ish clothes,basically meaning those baggy skirts that were popular for a few years when I was in high school (c. 2004-2007). We thought that this name was HILARIOUS. Like, we considered it one of our greatest inventions. One of them was my first girlfriend, named Klara. I asked her out on MSN messenger, we hung out one time, and then we broke up because I ditched her to play Sega with my friend Vito one time. I used to see her at shows all the time and I would act like it was awkward, but it really wasn't. She was nice.Damien dated one of them too. It was funny to Damien and I that the 36GC were the only people we hung out with at this show though.

In hindsight, that name is... still very funny to me. You just had to be there, I guess. My friends and I are hilarious.

The first band that played was The Knockouts. They were a local Toronto band used to play a lot of ska shows and had a really bad song called "Peanut Buddha". I remember absolutely nothing about their set.

The band Whole Wheat Bread were supposed to play the show, but didn't get over the border. I liked that band in high school, but realize now that they were one of the most embarrassing things I was ever genuinely into.

The second band who played was a pre-mainstream breakout Gym Class Heroes. They were still mainly a hip-hop group with live instruments and were mainly known for their song "Taxi Driver", in which most of the rhymes are emo band names. I will say that they put on a really good live show. There were next to no kids who knew them there and they completely won over the crowd. This is one of the funnier "saw them before they were big" stories that I have for sure.

The anticipation for Streetlight Manifesto killed me. Something that oddly sticks with me from this show is a kid behind me yelling "AW, IT'S THE T-BONE!" as the trombone player was getting his stuff ready.

The band ended up playing pretty much all of Everything Goes Numb, because that was the only release they had at the time, and man, that was all I wanted. They did indeed play "Keasbey Nights" in the middle of "Point/Counterpoint", as well as "9MM and a 3-Piece Suit" in the middle of "Failing, Flailing" (I think) and this seemed like the craziest thing in the world to me. The Kathedral (my favourite venue ever in a landslide victory) got so hot that the mirrors behind the bar fogged up and I had never seen that before. I took that to be a testament to my, and the crowd's, undying love for the band. Nothing, not even the extreme heat and dehydration, would stop us from skanking!

I was in awe of the show after it happened. All of my clothes were soaked through in sweat and it felt like I had just experienced something truly special.

I told my friends at school, my friends at Damien's school, my friends in the scene, anyone who would listen, that they had missed a momentous occasion that would never happen again. No Streetlight show would ever be like this one! It would be recorded and referenced forever and ever. Every ska fan in Toronto would forever be unbelievably jealous that Damien and I had been at this show.

Obviously my teen-aged self was prone to hyperbole about ska bands (hey, still am), but I was also right in a lot of ways too. The next time I saw Streetlight, they played the biggest-capacity concert hall in Toronto, the Kool Haus, while opening for Reel Big Fish. They never played a venue as small as the Kathedral again and definitely never will. This was a singular occasion in being a fan of Streetlight Manifesto in Toronto. Though it is a little high-and-mighty of me to say it, it really wasn't the same seeing them again after this. I mean, of course it wasn't. Seeing a band in a small, intimate setting is better than seeing them in a giant cave of a venue every time.

It's also special because I saw the band at a specific point in time too. They put out their second album in 2007 and while it was good, it didn't carry the same "holy fuck, this thing is a masterpiece" feeling that came with Everything Goes Numb being the band's only piece of music. Being a ska fan in the mid-2000's basically meant having your heart and imagination being captured by Streetlight Manifesto's Everything Goes Numb, so for me, this show is my experience in a giant phenomenon that was very special to a lot of people.

Don't get me started on how Streetlight Manifesto aren't a ska band though, that's an argument for another time.

Another way that hyperbole is relevant is that Streetlight Manifesto kind of sucks now. They're now one of those bands who play a "Last Tour Ever!" tour every fucking year, and that makes me really sad. They've put a lot of music since I saw them in 2005; a 2006 re-recording of Keasbey Nights, 2007's Somewhere in the Between, a 2010 collection of covers 99 Songs of the Revolution, Volume 1, 2013's The Hands that Thieve; and while those vary from "still pretty good!" to "meh", none of them meant as much as that debut album. They've gone through a ton of member changes and while all the new guys are just as excellent as the ones they replaced, it's not the same seeing someone play someone else's music. The version of the band I saw playing Everything Goes Numb had this special, ethereal "the best band at this, doing this at the top of their game" quality to it that only comes with discovering music that is truly special to you and getting the experience the way it was originally conceived and performed. It's a special feeling that's hard to describe, but you know when you're experiencing it.

Nothing gold can stay.