Thursday, 1 March 2012

King of Limbs

I am a music person.

Most people are in some sense or another but I'm a true devoted groupie - or was once upon a time. It's the language of my soul. It hits me in the solar plexus and slams through the rest of me in waves impossible to ignore.

My music tastes, as with most people evolved as a I grew from child to adolescent to adult. As a child my choices were mostly shaped by my parents for whom I can credit my love of the Beatles back catalogue, knowing all the words to John Denver's songs and a good grounding in Debussy and Ravel. Singing in choirs, singing along to the radio on long car trips (little ditty about Jack and Diannnnne) all helped me understand the fun and enjoyment of music, but the soul stuff came a bit later.

In highschool I discovered Triple J and the concept of new, raw, unmanufactured music and I fell head over heels as teenagers are wont to do. I made mixed tapes recorded off the radio and bought my first walkman with birthday money in bright blue. I was given a small portable stereo for my 16th birthday and I thought it was  one of the best gifts I'd ever been given. It was the time of post-grunge, Kurt Cobain was dead and a rebellious flannel clad audience weren't entirely sure how to fill the hole. Eddie Vedder mumbled into mikes and made all my teenaged angst visceral and real. Regurgitator sang about their plastic girlfriend in a weird electronic punk pop smash and Harvey Danger sat on a flagpole. There was something for every wildly swinging emotion of teenagerhood and I left home with that little portable stereo, my mixed tapes and a swirling gut of anticipation at the next stage of life.

And I distinctly remember one day, in my little college room with the wizard posters on the walls and the shoebox and milk crate bedside table as I surfed the college network looking for mp3s on the shared LAN. And I downloaded 4 songs by this band called Radiohead who I knew vaguely from the song Creep which had received a lot of airplay on Triple J. The songs were Fake Plastic Trees, Creep, Karma Police and No Surprises. Even typing that now gives me tingles.

The first time I listened to Fake Plastic Trees I burst into tears. I can't even tell you why aside from to say that it felt like the music was in me, part of me and it made me so desperately melancholy with its beauty. It made complete sense to me years later when I read the Wikipedia article that Thom Yorke recorded it in 3 takes and then broke down and cried. I felt that. It was a train of thought that suddenly became so sad that I choke up even now when I listen.

And because of that magical way that music tattoos itself on your soul, every time I hear it it evokes a special time for me. One that reminds me of the beauty in all things and the freedom to be who I am. I followed every subsequent album - everything from OK Computer to Hail to the Thief (though that wasn't my favourite) or my eagerly awaited King of Limbs which I loved. Codex for example is brilliant. But it still doesn't quite measure up to the entire soul gratifying release that The Bends represents for me.

So you can imagine, the morning after a Death Cab For Cutie concert where Bingley and I curled up on a couch and laughed about me getting carded to get in and sang along to the songs we knew, a bit seedy and a bit miserable at work, the electrifying sensation that went over me when Bingley called to tell me that Radiohead were touring. Or my gut wrenching disappointment when I heard that we'd missed presale tickets. Every advertising feature, every beat up to try and whip up a frenzy of buyers made me anxious. I have not wanted anything so much in a very very long time.

At 8am this morning Bingley and I tried in vain to get tickets to one of the Melbourne shows. The absolute heart sink when I finally had tickets in my basket in the Upper Section of Rod Laver arena seats D24 and D25 and it timed out after every step except the confirmation of accepting terms and conditions. And then there were no seats left and I sat in my morning meeting with a heart beating at 140 beats per minute and a suspicious film over my eyes knowing there was only one last chance to get tickets. And that many who had missed out on the Sydney and Melbourne tickets would be vying for the last Brisbane ones. As we waited for 9am it felt like we were lined up at the beginning of a race with thousands of others, and in truth we were, heart hammering as we all tried to be the first ones to click and have those magic tickets.

At 9:00:01 I clicked on the Ticketek website as did Bingley and probably a thousand or more others. But my heart absolutely leapt into my throat when I saw that I had progressed to the next stage. At 9:01 I was just finishing putting in my credit card details when the phone beeped. Bingley had got tickets. I looked at the confirmation in my hand that I had 7 minutes left to finalise my tickets and felt so very very grateful. I held onto those tickets for another 5 minutes. Kept them in my basket until the very last minute and then set them free again in the hope that some other fan, some other boy or girl that had laid on their bed and felt like something had been carved out of their soul and turned into lyrics had got them.

I later heard that a friend who had managed to get on at 9:02 had been told that the ticket allocation had been exhausted. I read in the newspaper about a fan that camped out overnight at the ticket office and was only able to get single seats. And I felt for them, because I was so convinced that that was going to be me. Until I saw that Bingley had forwarded me the confirmation e-mail, and just like the first time I had properly sat down to listen to Radiohead I burst into tears, because it doesn't and it still won't feel real until I'm standing in that moshpit, overcoming my anxiety and claustrophobia to sing with others the tunes that made us who we are.

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