Tag Archives: Family

Count Two Two Three

My little brother and sister came up a week ago. I am trying to work up a tradition of taking the two of them to shows with me (Starfucker in ’09, Pains of Being Pure at Heart ’10) so we went to see the Thermals. It was my third outing and Grace’s second. Solomon was new to them completely.

What a treat.

Openers White Fang were off the wall, hilarious and fantastic. Their tall and chubby bassist came out with the set-list written in marker over his shirtless belly. He promptly took off his pants. There was intense metal shredding from a long-haired redhead who looked better suited to being in a basement playing D and D (which is not an insult.) Their drummer looked like Bill Haverchuck from Freaks and Geeks and their singer wore a tweety shirt. They sang songs about getting stoned and hating Portland and sang perched atop each other’s shoulders. I was smitten.

The second opener was Unnatural Helpers, a local band that I will be certain to check out again in the future. Very short punk songs about girls played by adorable hipsters. With a drummer singer! My favorite. You can’t really go wrong. Particularly when your bond is chock-full of really, really cute guys. I turned to my siblings at one point to point out the cute derriere of the guitarist. They beat me to it.

And then there was the main act. The crowd rushed in a while before they started and my sister and I were separated a few feet apart in the front row. My brother, however, was nowhere to be found. They started, and The Thermals bassist Kathy was right in front of us (I have had the biggest lady crush on her for the longest time).

This time, I convinced my boyfriend to come out with us, so I finally had the opportunity to serenade him at a show. Singing bits of “How We Know”, “Stare Like Yours” and “Never Listen to Me” made it all the sweeter.

A few songs in, I looked behind me to see my six-foot-tall baby brother dancing and swinging around in the small, but enthusiastic, mosh pit. He looked exhausted, but once I caught his eye, he gave me the biggest grin I’d ever seen on his face. He later confessed to throwing some guy’s hat onto the stage. I asked him why and he told me “He was being a jerk. What did he expect in the mosh pit.” Fantastic.

The Seattle crowd loves this band like none other and it was nice to be surrounded by people who clearly dig this band as much as I do.

(I love them forever not just because of their music but because my review for their second album “F****** A” was the first thing I ever had published in “Unleashed”. Whoo!)

Towards the end, I was shouting the words to “A Pillar of Salt” into the air and opened my eyes (because of course I had my eyes closed) to see a video camera in my face. I really hope that moment does not come back to haunt me.

All in all, though, it was one of the better shows I’d been to elevated by the gleefully grinning faces of my siblings. Not to mention the hairdye that had melted onto my brother’s now-purpleblue face by the end of the show. The Thermals never, ever dissapoint.

We Had New Inventions

My uncle was once the driving force between every single band I ever loved—or hated.

Early memories of being chased out of my front yard by a little red car blasting Insane Clown Posse songs continue to make me want to sock him in the arm at odd moments.

Just the same, as his taste in music improved, so did mine. This leading to stolen Hole CDs, hundreds of illegally downloaded songs when Napster was brand new.

We used to sit around the computer screen in awe.

“Hey, it’s taken like 20 minutes to download the first 23 percent! Dude, this one is going super fast!”

We’re a little bit closer in age, so the dynamic has always been much more older brother than uncle. The kind of brother that is unspeakably irritating and unbelievably wise in the same breath.

But things have gotten better as we have grown older. No longer taunting me with awful rap-metal, now he just sends me extremely enthusiastic texts about what songs I need to immediately look up on playlist.com (not necessarily stealing, and much faster than Napster.)

And five minutes later, the clarifying, “Have you listened to it yet?”

Almost never.

His tastes have gotten better, and less frightening, with age.

So the dynamic is better. I have things to bring to the table now too. CDs to be burned, zip drives to be filled, and a shiny new iPod that is so very much fun to play with.

And he has songs that I would never have given a second glance.

At the beginning of the school year, he sat me down in a front of the computer and had me listen to a song so beautiful and sad that I started to tear up into the keyboard. A song about a poetry-writing, suicidal robot.

Grandaddy (the sad robot band) is this brilliant band from the late 90s and early 00s. My uncle calls them the far superior, American version of Radiohead. I call them amazing, but please don’t bring superiority over Radiohead into this. No matter which way you look at them, they are fantastic and weird. Kind of like an American Radiohead.

A few weeks later it was insanely enthusiastic text messages about this guy who mixes all my favorite things about Beirut with electronic bleeps and bloops and an effect that I shall continue to call vocoder.

He told me they were called Alaska in Winter as I sat there with a goofy grin on my face. Before asking me if I wanted to know why they were named that.

“Because the dude went up to Alaska during the winter and made this album.”

Enough said, I suppose.

In any case, we’ve become collectively obsessed with this dude and even more so when he released a second album a couple months ago which was even better than the first one was. We are now collectively biding our time until this guy comes to Seattle. I am crossing my fingers that Beirut will be in tow.

Anyway, the music is sweet and sad and perfect. Again, amazing and weird.

After years of trying to get it right I think we’ve got a pretty good music exchange going.

Different Names for the Same Thing

I leave for college in five days. Five days that are bound to be extremely short and entirely painful.

As much as I feel stifled by the town that I live in, I am just as dependent on the ones that I love within it.

My mother, in particular. My mom is my best friend and one of the best people that I know. She’s the first person I want to talk to when the things within my chest near the point of exploding. And I don’t quite know what to do without her.

And I’m sure it’s mutual. If not for the emotions and the memories and the basic connection between mother and daughter—than at least for the fact that she’s never gonna know who the hell is singing on the radio.

“Who is this, Liv? Who is this? Is it Coldplay? Is it The Professor?”

“No mom. It’s Radiohead. That song you’re thinking of is called The Scientist anyway.”

“I knew that! I knew that!”

I cannot count the number of times we have had that exact (and I mean down to the punctuation) exchange before.

She’s hopeless sometimes.

Whatever is this poor mother going to do when she no longer has me sitting beside her with my sneakers on the dashboard? Who’s going to distinguish the Citizen Cope’s from the Honorary Title’s? The Mirah’s from the Camera Obscura’s? The Death Cab song from the entirely different other Death Cab song? She’ll be lost without this knowledge, I know it for a fact. She will sit, unaided, in her vehicle, racking her brain for song titles and band names. Leave assured that every song was, indeed, Coldplay’s “The Professor.”

I feel like I can’t leave my mother in this position. As if perhaps I should stick around a little longer, make her flashcards and sit on the couch doing band-naming exercises.

I owe her more than to leave this home when she is stuck in this state.

Then again, maybe I’m just reaching and it’s just time to move away like I wanted to in the first place.

Before I realized that I had so much stake in staying right here, spewing off band names forever, safe in the warm embrace of a passenger seat.