Since early 2004, Montreal based Arcade Fire have been (mostly) successful in bringing thoughtful, poignant indie rock laced with arena rock bravado to a scenethat wsn’t always open to that concept. In the more than decade since their debut, the band has released five quite different albums. Themes of abandonment, loneliness, and recklessness seep through them all. Truth be told, this list was difficult to make, if only because the band has so many worthy songs, but in the end I think it’s a full and complete list.
10. NORMAL PERSON: REFLEKTOR
Starting the countdown at number 10, we get a haunting, slow burning track in the shape of “Normal Person.” On a first listen the song doesn’t stand out as the underrated gem it actually is, but with added listens it begins to click with the listener. “Normal Person” starts with an ease and reverb that both work well, but as the track sways behind Win’s hushed, slightly whispered voice, as all the pieces come together. It has an attitude that’s easy to spot, but it’s not a dick head attitude. It’s the confidence you get from growing from your art, and I suppose being praised by many many people. It’s a track that blends gothic rock and soaring chorus in a way that could only work for the Arcade Fire.
9. KEEP THE CAR RUNNING: NEON BIBLE
The plucking of the strings, added with the more orchestral elements signal the arrival of the track much like the headlights of a running car announce an arrival. This symbolism is hard to spot, but the urgency of the song makes for a bold, yet unexpected brand of chase music.. The chanting by Win and company during the bridges gather like voices around a fire, and the agony of the beat aching to be free, sets your spirit. With the engine roaring, and the windows down, you feel free in the imagery presented. If the theme of the song is running from your problems, then the voices reminding you of the difficulties you face during the song are your call to arms for escaping.
8. MY BODY IS A CAGE: NEON BIBLE
Win's voice comes out, and the sadness is not only palpable, but it's as if his life depends on getting these words out. The whole theme of the album really comes into extremely clear view here too. The choral atmosphere, along with the chamber music and organ makes the song thick. Early during the song the tension is built methodically by the use of the organ and the oldest Butler's voice until the moment the pressure can’t be contained. The song is the statement of defeat by a generation stuck between getting everything they wanted and not expecting anything at all. That in itself is a difficult world to navigate, but in these resounding moments of clarity, “My Body is a Cage” is a reminder that we are all still living, breathing, navigating this thing called Life.
7. HAITI: FUNERAL
Named after Regine’s homeland and sung by Regine herself, “Haiti” is a love letter to her native land, with the instrumental leaning more heavily into island culture and rhythmic arrangements most average Americans take for granted, if we acknowledge it at all. The song borders on indie world music, but it never fully gets there. Regardless, Regine’s voice has a raspy yet purposeful pace to her delivery, and in moments like the Haitian language delivered finale,you allow yourself to get lost in it, which never hurts when you’re experiencing a song that comes from dueling lands and attitudes.
6. NO CARS GO: NEON BIBLE
In contrast to the other song with “Car” in the title, “No Cars Go,” a song nestled near the end of “Neon Bible” reverberates in a rushed manner throughout its nearly six minute duration. The drums from Jeremy Gara beat like your life depends on it, while the xylophone and other instruments move the track along in a way that hookes the listener while also making it easy to digest the nature of the lyrics. Those lyrics, again speak to an escapism of sorts that only Arcade Fire specialize in creating. “Between the click of the light and the start of the dream,” isn’t just a beautiful line, but in fact is everything that is possible when your mind is clear and open to what if. That’s what “No Cars Go” is to me, all the possibles and places we can go and things we can do if we separate from the contest hustle and bustle.
5. MONTH OF MAY: SUBURBS
Probably the most intense, blink and you’ll miss it song on the list of the Top Ten Arcade Fire Songs, “Month of May,” finds us at number six. It’s always reminded me of an angry version of an Arcade Fire song if surf punks had recorded it. It’s full of folded arms being disobedient, but that only lasts until it’s time to put your fists in the air and chant “First they built the roads, then they built the town.” That moment is important, but it’s made even better by the drum beat that precedes it. From the first listen until now, it’s remained a stark example of how different this band can be when the moment calls for it, and that they can in fact write a very intense, gut wrenching track. It’s unimpressed in your likes and dislikes, and it wants you to feel it.
4. REBELLION (LIES): FUNERAL
Everyone by this point should have seen the epic performance of this song at AF’s first Coachella appearance. One could even argue it’s the performance that poised them for the major success that was yet to come. It’s still really incredible. Anyway, the track is one of the last on the all around perfect “Funeral,” and over the course of five minutes and eleven seconds the band proves what’s now clearly obvious, and has been for years. That is simply, that they rock in many ways. The album itself reeks of death and mourning, and on “Rebellion(Lies)” the band drill that concept of life and recklessness into existence. The backing vocals are well placed, as is the powerful yet subtle drumming by Jeremy Gara. The song builds and builds until the climax, and everyone is urged to joyously sing and dance to the “Rebellion” happening all around us.
3. READY TO START: SUBURBS
Another song in the top five that is largely remembered as part of a landmark, historic performance at Coachella. The third time the band played, finally landing the headlining spot, the encore started with this track. By this point the balls that had fallen from the stage were turning lights in sync with the music, and of course the crowd lost their mind. The track itself though has this mysterious hue over it, and the energy surrounding the track is dark and foreboding in the best way the band knows how to deliver. Clearly a great song off another nearly perfect album, “Ready to Start” not only stands as a dark reminder of what “The Suburbs” may have in store for us, but it also comes in at number four on the Top Ten Arcade Fire songs.
2. WAKE UP: FUNERAL
Without a doubt, there wasn’t any other song that could have been number one. At the top of the list, “Wake Up,” from the seminal “Funeral,” presents us with chants galore which are able to allow us to free ourselves from complicated lives, if only just for a moment. Everything soars here, quite simply. The guitar riff at the outset sets the pace, then the drums add a little bit of force to it, but then the real magic happens when the iconic chant occurs nearing the thirty second mark. The songs on the album speak to the truths of life, and that all things must come to an end, but I think “Wake Up” stands up as a reminder that sometimes life is dismal, but it’s the unfortunate events that truly make us better people. It’s also a sobering look at the world we live in, and how important it is to stay positive as “our hearts get torn up.”
1. SPRAWLS II(MOUNTAINS BEYOND MOUNTAINS): SUBURBS
The choice between number one and two was difficult, but in the end it had to be done. “Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)” not only reaches nearly to the top of the pile, but it helps to tie all the themes running rampant on “The Suburbs” into one spectacular and beautiful bow. Regine’s voice again shines through, but through it all the song's success lies not just with her gorgeous rendition of a monotonous life, but in fact with all the members of the band who excel at writing music that people can relate to. That idea of “We can never get away from the Sprawl” is a real, complicated feeling that many people have with their hometowns, whether or not the grow up in “The Suburbs,” but it’s in that moment you realize the world is one big Sprawl, and over Mountain lies the potential to exist a Sprawl that’s perfectly weird in the exact way we are, and we can make the best of what the world has to offer.
PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT: HUGE SPOILERS AND INFO REGARDING CHARACTERS, DEATHS, ETC. ENJOY!
As we approach the two year anniversary of the beginning of the final season of Game of Thrones, I thought it a good time to go back and discuss. As you’ll find out during the course of this piece, the confusion didn’t just start in the final six episodes, but as the series began to wound down in season seven.
By season 6, the show had a very clear path towards its finale. Cersei had just destroyed everything that stood in her way during the finale of “Winds of Winter,” which stands among my own and many others’ favorite episodes of the series. Even so, King in the north Snow has defeated Ramsay Bolton, and Daenerys Targaryen has completed her conquest and restructuring of Mereen, and the army of the Dead is heading down south.
In season 7, things begin slow, but purposeful. It’s dragging more than most thought, especially with the explosive opening of Arya killing the male Freys, but eventually the plan begins to pull away from anything other than the Others, or White Walkers as they're called in the show, as the decision is made to head North to prove their existence to Cersei in King's Landing. This is where the timeline starts to bend, as well as the narrative idea the series had had from day one, which is “no one is safe.” While traveling north on their reconnaissance mission, Jon Snow, or Aegon Targaryen as we’ll soon find out, are joined by Tormund, the Hound, Beric Dondarion, and of course Jorah Mormont and some others as they navigate the harshest elements the North has to offer. That essentially means blue eyed dead attacking bears, or dead attacking blue eyed ice men, or just normal blue eyed zombies, whichever you prefer. Anyway, they get the zombie but are seen and heard, so the escape becomes paramount. They break ice, create some time, and send for help.
Now this is where things get screwy with the time. For years it's been established as a slow moving show, that gradually ramps up and expandas over entire episodes and sometimes seasons, like the Littlefinger arc that gradually grew in notoriety and mischief for seven seasons before finally being resolved. It’s established also that while Jon and company march north for the White Walkers, he’s been gone for weeks, but in their time of peril the bastard of King Robert Baratheon, Gendry, manages to run in bitter temperatures with creatures everywhere, at least days away, and then they manage to get a raven from the Night's Watch to Stormborn and then the Dragon Queen flies north and saves them, all in less time than it takes literal arctic temperatures to fill in ice? I’m no scientist here, but it seems doubtful. Even a more plausible approach here would have been to have the Hound break the ice, but then to have many of the zombies fall in, creating more tension and dramatically impacting the area of the ice and the time it would take to freeze over. If done right, the time can seem long but also compact, based on the amount of time in the episode.
This would also help change the haste of the next episode, in which the wall falls, a Lannister lies to protect her family, and Littlefinger meets his end. It all feels rushed with the still fresh images of Jon Snow again nearly dying and or freezing to death immediately after seeing him standing up and marching into negotiations in the next episode in King’s Landing, only to then go back to the North the next episode. These trips, up until this season were discussed in terms of weeks, and chunks of episodes were sometimes spent on the road, going from one place to another. Many times it was the setting of some fantastic fight or twist you never saw coming. But now, with the urgency of finishing a series that only two people actually wanted to end, they cast aside all allusions of gradual travel with choices that defied logic and the concept of time entirely.
Much has been made of the rush to be finished by D&D, otherwise known as David Benioff & D.B. Weiss, but at least from the outside, with the full breadth of the internet at my disposal, this much seems at least optimistic: The duo were burnt out and ready to move on, and with the promise of the next Star Wars trilogy offered to them, they decided to bow out. Many of the stars of the show have even mentioned no one wanted to end, and everyone else thought that with this story line trajectory, it could go for ten seasons, with some saying even more could have been possible.
Even so, with the pieces they have in the show, with some simple shuffling around and rearranging, it still could have worked. With the opening of the season, The Dragon Queen and the king of the North arrive in Winterfell, and the rest is mostly formality, with the various roads over the years finally converging on all the Starks finally being together again. After all, they are the first family we see in the opening episode. Beyond that, news of the Lannister betrayal makes its way north, and plans are beginning to take form. All of this seems appropriate, but again, the time crunch makes you question just where the conclusion is heading.
The second episode, while interesting and filled with moments that are poignant and entertaining (the Knighthood of Brienne of Tarth and Tormund’s story about the milk come to mind) lacks things most expected. One of those, especially when how amped up the storyline was, was the little info we ever get regarding the Night King or anything else regarding their history or beginning.
Which takes us to the much discussed “The Long Night.” At this point, we know the truth of Jon and his patronage, and how it relates to the ongoing, some would say self created, plight of the Mother of Dragons. She’s a powerhouse throughout the later years of the series, but in season eight, especially in the last two episodes (as we’ll talk in a bit) she begins to question and kill anyone that threatens her, even if the argument is somewhat valid.
The reasons for the split to her role as the Mad Queen makes sense, but once again, it rushes itself. This sub-plot should have been sprinkled among the last ten to twelve episodes, with the doubt slowly filling her. What we get feels squeezed in to just get it done with, and not at all something that works in this new rushed setting. Which brings us back to the “Long Night.” which for all the complaints, still stands to me as a shining achievement in execution and sheer terror.
The episode itself is a fast paced, thrilling ride, and for my money, the best action the series ever produced. The fear and the sense of dread are abound on the first watch, with the White Walkers finally showing the full force of their carnage. The opening scene is masterful, and brutal, but those aren’t complaints. However, the visuals don’t completely line up with the outcome, which brings us to the point of “no one is safe.” Earlier in the series, this was paramount, with huge deaths like Ned Stark, or Joffrey, or even the barbaric events of the “Red Wedding,” being almost routine in how they divided the audience and impacted the show's future.
In “the Long Night” no one on the front line with any prominence dies, with the major losses only coming from the Dothraki storming into the night as their torches vanished into the endless Winter approaching. Brienne, Jamie Lanister, the Hound, Jorah and everyone else we know and love makes it out. Now maybe it's sensible storytelling, but to me it speaks yet again to a rushed pace. Now, the episode is great,and I still get pumped watching it play out, but I think yet again D&D made a fatal flaw in how the episode is laid out. For years, and YEARS, we’ve been told the White Walkers were the big bad, the ultimate threat, but we rarely get insight into them, and one of the few episodes devoted entirely to them and the fight for survival, ends up being the middle episode when it should’ve been the series finale.
They build up a threat for literal years, insisting to us time and again that death comes for anyone who crosses the path of the WW, and then we get some good deaths, but nothing like the bloodbath we’ve been trained to expect. Theon gets his great redemption arc (which oddly works in a season muddled by wrong moves), but Melissandre and her “Lord of the Light” quest comes to end with basically no questions answered, and well, Jorah dies defending his queen. That moment is poignant and would have been better placed somewhere else in the final episodes, but in the heat of the episode the death scene works, even if it means the death of all the Mormonts during the Long Night.
Lets jumped forward a bit while also going back. In the later episodes we see the siege of King's Landing, the death of the second dragon, and the death of many other people. Some of the final moments of the seventh season also take place in KL, which brings me to my next question- Why wasn’t there a set up by Cersei waiting for them? They couldn’t defeat the armies, sure, but Cersei and company could have left the negotiations with all their enemies in shackles below the Red Keep. This would have created a very moving, and, in my opinion, more believable series of events. The Breaker of Chains, Daenerys Stormborn, Jon Snow & Tyrion Lanister all imprisoned by Cersei. This action leads Jaime to feel ultimately betrayed at the knowledge that this was planned and executed behind his back.
Here’s where the big reveal should’ve come. Jaime, ready to kill Cersei and help the prisoners in the Long Night, finds Cersei, with him… except it's Arya, obviously. Cersei rips off the mask, pushes Arya away, and runs to Jamie, who embraces her. Then he takes her life, fulfilling the prophecy offered by the witch. During this, we’d find out about the real relationship of Targaryen King & Queen, Aegon and Daenerys. We’d also see the much hyped and, to me worthwhile, CleganeBowl, except having the Hound end the life of the Mountain, cutting his head off and pushing him into the fire below.
If done correctly, this gives the final episodes more meat in more important meetings and encounters, but it also ties up the Lannister threat in a way that gives the great villainy of Cersei one more chance to shine before the demise we've been waiting for since the opening episode of the series. As I said earlier, the pieces are there and can be solved optimistically, but the lack of direction from the creators, not to mention the personal choices they made for the characters themselves, leaves much to be desired.
In my eyes it's so simple: You have the war with the Lannisters, you conquer Westeros, and Daenarys, still gradually sinking into her paranoia, but she isn’t able to pull it together enough to rule confidently. If done right the slow descent into the Mad Queen has been happening for many episodes, and when she finally turns it becomes a terrifying moment where everyone has to band together.
Imagine going into the Long Night, with vastly more men than what they had initially. Killing Cersei, Eurion and all the others in the Lannister camp would have resulted in deaths, but much less than what we saw. They also wouldn’t have to make the destruction of Kings Landing as big of a centerpiece. The battle over the sea and beyond the gates could happen intact, same as before, except with the ending finding us at the point of the Mountain's death, as well as the death of Jaime and Cersei, with Jaime killing his sister moments before a recovering Arya nails him as she takes the final names off her list. By this point Jaime has killed Euron Greyjoy, same as in the episode.
Before we continue, I’d like to also mention the choices that strayed from the books more and how they affected the outcome. Let’s just say it, show Euron was terrible, and lacked any of the viciousness we see portrayed in the novels. He’s more used as a snarky side kick who only wants to kill and fuck and make shitty jpkes. They never seem to know exactly what to do with Euron, and he quickly gets old. Another one worth mentioning is the sudden turnaround in Tyrion's intellect. Smartest guy in the world turns into a second guessing idiot in the last episodes, and while the acting is still great, you can see the choices not making sense. In any other show nothing would have changed, but yet again it paints an idea in my head that the choices made weren’t made in service to the story, instead serving as a means to tie up loose ends quicker, whether or not they make sense.
Finally, here we should have been. The world's remaining forces make their way to Winterfell, to defeat the ultimate threat. In the final episodes the world saw, and which most left unsatisfied, a major disservice was done not only to Clarke as an actress but to Daenerys as a character. Sure, we all knew the chances of her becoming the Mad Queen seemed decent, but as I’m about to explain, maybe it didn’t need to happen at all.
Allow me to pose a question: did having the Breaker of Chains, the Mother of Dragons, Daenerys Stormborn, first of her name going mad really make the end of the series any better? In my opinion, the answer is no. Instead, wouldn’t it be better to see her take the crown, sit atop the Iron Throne, thus fulfilling her prophecy? We could have had that leading up to the final episodes in Winterfell, with our Queen meeting her fate at the hands of the Night King. This would have worked in a few ways. One, it gives the Queen and the character a satisfying death while still giving Jon Snow and company a reason to fight til the end.
Honestly, nothing much about the episode would even have to change. Jorah can die still protecting his Queen, Theon can still get his redemption arc, and we get a major death near the end. It also works in how the finale could end. All along the Queen has made difficult choices but always with an eye toward freedom for anyone who wants and deserves it. With Daenerys dying, it gives everyone a reason to continue to create the world she helped envision and shape.
This act makes the battle worthwhile, and all the deaths before it worthwhile. The Queen and Drogon die in battle, as her Nephew Aegon, son of Prince Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark continues on with Rhaegal, their dragon's blood bonded between them. During the closing moments, the deaths are observed, with many prominent faces being laid to rest from the devastation. We see Brienne, Gendry, the Hound, only defeating his monstrous brother to help the Brothers without Banners and company one more time as they fought the White Walkers, and died for it.
During these segments, plans are made, mass funerals and burnings are held, and Tyrion, speaking to the now King Aegon “Jon” Targayen as he takes his seat on the Iron Throne. Sansa takes over in the North, Arya begins to build her legend, and Bran rests, as the darkness is temporarily sidelined after the defeat of the Night King. Sure it’s a little bit of fan service, but sometimes people should get what they want.
Very rarely in life do events happen that you still remember every aspect years or even decades later. For me and others I know, seeing Daft Punk in concert stands as one of those experiences. For me it first happened at Coachella 2006, alone in a crowded tent losing my mind for 80 riveting minutes. Then came Miami, a two day drive from Louisiana to Florida, then back as soon as the show ended. Finally, what brings us to the subject of this article, the Alive 2007 tour, which then helped birth the live record of the same name This time myself, sister, mother and then girlfriend got to see one of the most legendary acts of all time, at one of the most incredible venues in earth, Red Rocks.
Live albums as a whole tend to be tricky. You don’t want to overdo and select only hits, but you also want to give the people a certain amount of what they want. After absorbing the record countless times, it's fair to say they balanced it brilliantly. This show, along with most of the shows it helped to spawn, doesn’t really follow a traditional song pattern. Throughout the 12 segments presented here, each one has at least two songs constantly intertwining. Sometimes, a beat from a song will disappear entirely from a song, only to make itself known again down the line. When you witness the show, it’s a type of energy that makes the moments blur. “Robot Rock,”the opener, gradually builds you up continuously untuk rge energy bursts, with the ending notes of the returning “Human After All” coming in, you don’t really stop moving. It's infectious, there's no doubt about it.
By this tour, I had gotten the chance to see this tour twice, so going in you are pretty aware of what you’re about to see. This is both true and untrue. Since the show was unveiled 14 months earlier, the show had been tweaked in small but very noticeable ways. The “Fuck it” coursing through track two “Touch It/Technologic” wasn’t presented at the previous shows, but that’s the kind of thing you can do when you spend a year or so making a perfect show even better.
As the story goes the duo only accepted the Coachella offer because the amount of money was enough to put on the stage show they had envisioned for years. This idea became known as the pyramid, and it essentially changed how live shows are approached. ESPECIALLY for dance acts. Remember shows? Ah, yeah me too.
Probably my favorite section comes within the first few movements of the show. The beats from “Television Rules the Nation'' burst out of the speakers, while “Around the World” gloriously rips through on the audio vocal end of the music. The music, on top of the accompanying visuals really do the job of capturing human existence in its primal exchange.The buildup is something to behold. Relentlessly, like the train from the Dark Tower, “Crescendolls'' joins the fun created by the first two tracks and things get wild. The build up and explosion is maybe the best thing I’ve ever seen in my entire life. Even at the shows, I remember being torn between filming it or enjoying the moment. I think in the end I filmed maybe 5 seconds and chose to lose myself to dance(see what I did there?).
There’s a reason these two men are supremely important to the electronic music scene. Much like Kraftwerk were instrumental in the 70’s and 80’s, Daft Punk have taken similar risks in bringing their unique style of “Robot Rock” to mainstream audiences. The contribution is incalculable and utterly important.
I picked this album specifically because while I do have a favorite stand alone album, the sheer talent and skill represented in this live album brings everything to the table. It has tracks from every album up to that point, mixed and arranged in a way to make them their own unique tracks. The cut it up, slice it, and transform these songs to work in the live setting. One of the best examples comes when Steam Machine” enters at the end of one section of a beat and carries the tone and elements over to the next section where “Around the World” returns and is joined by the beat of one of the better songs in their catalogue, “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger.”
It stops abruptly, but slowly a singular thump lays down under the vocals and gradually brings the tempo back up to a party atmosphere. The band had mentioned that this show felt like an opera to them, in the way that opera’s have movements that flow effortlessly, and little things in each movement are allowed to change as long as the end goal remains the same. You can really see the motivation on this track. It seems like a mess at times, but it might just be because no one was used to hearing so many elements from so many songs happening at the same time. Music then, and even now, hasn’t caught up to some of the things they accomplished and produced during these shows.
From this point, the show keeps on going in the same way it has been. Which is to say unabated. Over the next three songs we’re treated to re-workings of at least 7 songs. I imagine if you had only seen or heard this album, you might not be aware that these aren’t the album versions, but it’s totally understandable. That’s a testament to what great producers Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter are that as two individuals they can mix multiple things and bring an incredible stage show and have the end result be a seamless mix of beautiful visuals, gorgeously layered sounds, and leave the crowd still wanting more after a full concert.
This is where the set begins to change a little bit compared to the Coachella show from a year earlier. Nothing leaves, but more is added, which we’ll get to in a moment's time. The familiar bells of “Aerodynamic,” with their foreboding wail, give way to the unmistakable ding of hopefulness that is the mega hit “One More Time.” I swear I’ve heard this song hundreds of times and it’s still as awesome as it was the first time it ventured into my life. If there’s a single part or song that captures the full message of the show and the energy it delivers, it’s easily “One More Time.”
During this segment of the record, things dial down again only to do what theyve done before and get everyone listening re-energized. The double whammy of vocals provided from “Primetime of Your Life,” interlaced over the rough scratching of “Brainwasher '' make it a deliberate entry into the set. On traditional records both of these songs are super heavy in terms of rocking bass, but in the live setting, it’s pretty killer. The beat also only ramps up as the song goes on, but at a full on dance party, you kinda have to do it.
With two songs left, we find the group doing something that they’ve perfected by now: Very quietly inserting segments from the next song into the mix in such a way as you can barely hear it until it’s at your door ready to party. This time, the track in question is maybe the song with the best beat to it, “Da Funk.” How they do it though slightly varies. You can hear the intro in the previous song, but it ends mid way through, only to have it re-emerge in full force on this track. It’s one of the few parts of the show where this song is the only one on display, even if it’s for a brief moment. “Da Funk'' is clearly an incredible song, and the placement here is quite appropriate.
This, unfortunately brings the last segment of the record, and as far as show closers go, it doesn’t disappoint. We open up with the heroic vocals from “Superheroes,” but that isn’t the only thing prevalent here. The beat from “Human After All” is also there, and that’s where the song really soars. If you’re trying to make a complete show, it’s logical for a band who opens with “Robot Rock” to then close with “Human After All.” I like to think it’s to demonstrate that while they have been performing for the crowd, in a way we’ve been performing for them, and making them feel good. We’re gifting each other with a legendary experience.This band is likely the most important electronic band every to make music, and this collection of songs proves why. It’s timeless, fun, and thoughtful all at the same time. This is also a band that has been a part of a few awesome memories involving people I care about, and in the end, “Music Sounds Better With You.”
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The year had just started, 2020, and what a year it was going to be. In a little over a month, my wife and I, along with our dog and cat would load everything we own into a car and make our way out west, to glorious Denver. We had just landed jobs, with me finding a freelance gig at what I thought would propel me to a more prominent local role of covering concerts, reviewing albums, and everything else that comes with it. Life was exciting, and we had tons of plans for our new lives. For Ashley it was a chance to get to settle into a new place with her best friend and others, but for me I was looking forward to one thing- Red Rock shows and seeing what Denver had to offer my music devouring soul.
Regardless, the year started out amazing. We had tickets to see Tool the first month of February, right before we left Louisiana. For me, it was my 24th evening spending it with maybe my favorite band, but it was also more than that. Sharing something like that with a spouse is a big deal to both of us, not only because it's frankly awesome, but because we get to share in something very special. For me that's what shows, festivals and life experiences have always been about. I’m never been swayed by money in the way many people are, it just wasn’t as important to me as making a dream become a reality, whether it's venturing to a show that cost too much(Tool tickets were about $300 for us both) or making it to a music festival across the country, experiences propel happiness and creativity alike.
It's with all of those and many more thoughts that I entered 2020 with. I wanted to take what I had learned in New Orleans and use it to get even deeper into the world I'd always felt called to. It's nearing March now, and I've just interviewed the lead singer of one of my recent favorite bands, Pup. It goes well, Stefan Babcock is an absolute gentleman and extremely open and easy to talk to, and finally it feels like this might be something I can make something out of. In Denver, Pup played and although it was great to finally be seeing a show in my new home city, the year was just beginning.
If you’re reading this and you know me, you know how crucial music and concerts are to my general well being. I stopped talking to some family this year, all for the best, and i’ve dealt with not only the drastic impact of the pandemic, but also the diagnosis of my strong as fuck wife wit breats cancer. Any other year, concerts and festivals would’ve been there to help us navigate stress and live life, but not only did the communal nature of our world disappear, but with it came venues closing, bands unable to tour or make money, and oh so many exciting moments for millions of people, gone in an instant. That's the virus dictating our lives, and music was one of the great sufferers of this pandemic. It's estimated that the general music industry lost somewhere between 2-4 billion in 2020, but that's only one side of the loss of live music.
Artists like U2, Taylor Swift and other mega hitters will obviously be fine, but what of the venue workers, or the the middle of the road opening bands with day jobs, or the sound engineers, light techs and every other person who helps put a performance on? They can’t afford to wait around as we argue over $600 checks and asshoiles who refuse to wear masks because of their “constitutional rights.”
My point is, everyone fucking suffered tihs year in one way or another, but its still a loss of uncalcuble lengths when you factor in not only music but entertainment as a whole.Just think about your plans for the year. Any concerts included? For me, 2020 was to mark the first time I'd take my sister to Bonnaroo, where we’d spend four blissful days off the grid doing something we almost never get to do. Tool was gonna play, as was Lizzo and Lana Del Rey, who my sister loves. There were even rumors of a King Gizzard late night set that was sure to be transcendent and utterly bonkers. Nick Cave was coming to Denver, as was Pearl Jam, and i was hoping to do a story on it, but alas we know how that ended.
I could go on and on, and this really wasn’t meant to be the first official post of the year, but the weight of creative endeavors that were not to be was just too deafening for me to ignore. After all, music had saved me, and plenty of others. This year at home, we needed it more than ever. I can’t speak for everyone, but my vinyl collection more than doubled this year, due in large part to not really being able to do anything. We were stuck at the house, Ashley was suffering for much of this year, and we needed something new to help us get through. Again music had helped me and others I know navigate through multiple impossible situations at once.
So even though “Roo and Rage and Pearl Jam, along with the Killers and xenu knows who else weren’t meant to be experienced this year, i hope we all are aware of how music and the arts helped us this year, and how great it will be to (safely) venture out to venues and festival grounds alike as the world (hopefully) can keep itself same.
Lastly, welcome to 2021! There’s tons of cool stuff planned for this year, with weekly posts planned and plenty of awesome mixtapes that will be available on spotify, as well as the instagram page, which brings plenty of off the wall music fun and plenty more.
Follow us for more content at @thedeathofthemixtape on instagram, facebook and Spotify. Thanks for reading.
Landon Murray is a music connooisseur who craves sounds of all shapes and textures. He's seen over 2000 bands and looks forward to welcoming you into his world of sound,
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