January 8, 1999

Here, I come to save the day on legal speed the American way

My homework was done. I had been a perfect angel all week long, and I wouldn’t take no for an answer when I told my mom I needed a ride to Center Street Provo for a show this Saturday. A band I had known since my first summer visit to Utah was playing and I was supposed to be on the guest list! But I wasn’t just there as a guest, I was there for business! I had met another kid online that was planning a Battle of the Bands and needed my help.

This was back in the day where America Online was like Facebook, only with no real competitors and while the over-sharing of information struck fear into the hearts of every mother across America that believed the Internet was filled with older men pretending to be young teenagers, the reality is we were safe back then and the information we shared was nothing like we share today.

Some friend, of a friend, of a friend – not one of which I knew their actual, real name – recommended his screename to my screename. DJBinky808 (clearly a raver) was my new pal and I knew he’d be the one one by the pool table, rocking Hot Topic style parachute pants and a spiked dog collar. Ok, so maybe my mom was allowed to worry… a bit.

Back then everyone I knew in my life, I met online.

Living the single-parent life with my mom in a basement apartment of some random used-to-be farm town with a skate park over the fence meant for a lot of late night, completely dodgy meet ups with these random screenames while my mom agreed to at least stand back far enough to act like she didn’t know me while I shook hands and made friends in a way she never imagined she’d have to worry about. She couldn’t say no. I would always get my way.

Anything my parents refused me was somehow instantaneously distorted into a school project. “Oh you won’t let me meet this guy 20 years older than me with his own recording studio? That’s cool because now I have to interview a professional in the music business for a career day project at school!” I spawned the term #SorryNotSorry before hashtags were a thing (outside of my frequented life as a secret computer geek when I wasn’t binge watching MTV with random would-be band mates).

For having never planned a show before, I was confident this was what I was meant to do with my life and the fact that I barely knew anything about it didn’t even phase me. I made arrangements to meet DJBinky808 at Wrapsody during a show with local band, Froglick. There was no cooler place to hang out and no better place than this to plan my first ever music business meeting. Surely he would be impressed that I knew the headlining band!

Back then, Wrapsody was the place to go. It was the largest venue in town and the largest venue that has existed since! It held down the only lively corner of our small, college-town. The owner, Corey Fox, had just put in a self-built set of stadium seating, blocking the back half of the venue for billiard tables.

I never really played pool before. I didn’t have to try to know that I was terrible at it. I circled the table, trying to hide the way I was starring at this kid. He wore a pair of reflective, black rave pants and a large, metal beaded necklace. He didn’t have much to say, and I didn’t really have anything to ask him. It was obvious that he was very uninterested in this school assignment, or the assignment didn’t exist at all.

I watched him try to play. He wasn’t any better than I assumed I was, having never really even tried to hit the ball across the table toward whatever color I was. I felt a hand on my shoulder and heard an excited, “Heeeeyyy!” It was K-!

Without knowing how to react in the middle of a loud venue, I just stood there not prepared for the moment he leaned in and gave me a big hug. A hug? Oh my God a hug! We were definitely going to have babies.

Maybe my new high school friend could tell that any remaining interest I had was suddenly faded. Maybe he was uninterested himself. Either way, he walked away without ever even saying goodbye, and I shyly walked behind K- as he continued greeting a few familiar faces.

We stood at the back of the crowd, arms crossed, listening to the band on stage.   I had never heard them before. They sounded nothing like any of the other bands that were popular around Provo. This wasn’t ska. This wasn’t punk. This was awesome!

The music was the only thing that could lull me away from the worry as to whether or not K- liked me and what it might mean that we were standing next to each other so contently. Oh God our shoulders were touching! Should I move? Should I stand there? Is he trying to touch shoulders with me? Being a teenage girl sucked! But this was easily the most awesome night of my life so far.

Blasting their way through the speakers, and head banging through the entire song, my entire body buzzed as the band threw aside their equipment as if they had no real intention of being there and their entire presence was a favor to someone far less important than they were. The stage faded to black. Amplifiers buzzed a loud, crackling buzz as electric guitar strings hummed against the old, Persian rug on stage.

“I’m going to…” I started to yell over the buzz, motioning wildly toward the stage.

“Wanna go backstage?” he asked. My heart jumped! We were always on the same page. He took the words right out of my mouth.

Scooting past the band, carrying their equipment off the stage to the back room, we moved from total darkness to an overwhelming fluorescent luminescence. The lead singer of Froglick raised a blue bottle toward us in his left hand, singing out, “Heeeeeeeeeey!” as we entered. The rest of the band sat dread-locked and dark haired on the old, yellow couch in the center of the room – backed by drum equipment and stacks of large, black amplifiers.

This must be heaven.

K- went to congratulate the band that had just finished loading off the stage. He was that kind of guy – nice and stuff. R- broke through my daydream of life as a musician’s wife when a small, bumpy blue bottle of Bawls was presented directly in front of my face, dancing back and forth.

“Bawwwwls,” he announced, causing his band mates to break out into laughter as if they were half, well no probably more like a third of their actual age.

L- flipped his long, reddish black dreadlocks over his shoulder as he stood to start loading their equipment to stage. K- offered to help while I palmed this strange, glass bottle in my hands, careful not to spill.

“Have some!” R- insisted.

Oh the peer pressure. I lightly tasted it, barely a sip at all. I wasn’t sure what it was and was convinced by the look of things that it was probably alcohol. And that’s just the sort of thing I would never be able to successfully hide from my mother nor did I want to. The whole idea of it was just… strange.

I didn’t want to ask. I didn’t want to sound stupid as the rest of the band egged me on, bragging about how Bawls was now their official band sponsor.

“Is it…” I couldn’t word this any better, “is it alcohol?”

All I got in reply was boisterous laughter as each member of the band started lugging their respective set of equipment to the stage – R-, joking about the struggles of carrying one, single microphone to the stage as he gyrated around me, tongue out as if he were trying out to be the lead of KISS.

I-I-I’m wired
I’m so inspired
I drank the entire pot

It didn’t take long to feel the effects of this bubbly delight to find out that this was indeed an energy drink. Exciting! No thanks to my older brother, energy drinks were already a staple of my teenage diet. He would be stoked to find out about this new one! Jolt Cola, step aside!

I suppose it was the best pre-show choice when rocking out at an All Ages venue with… well, kids of all ages, including that girl that goes to my school. I don’t know who she is. I’m not even sure what her name is, but she’s always here, at every Froglick show with the same boy.

Like so many Froglick shows before, I was up front vying for spot as #1 fan next to my only contender, Jentle. Another known screename associated with an unfamiliar face. Jentle is the kind of girl that dyes her hair black or orange and types *le sigh* as a common expression. God, she was cool! She was the kind of girl you wanted to be – the kind you knew could kick your ass, but still rocked a flawless appeal no matter who she was, no matter what she wore. I wasn’t sure if I should loathe her or worship her. So I ignored her.

Yelling out the lyrics to the most popular songs and throwing elbows in a wild, seizure-inducing dance craze, this was my night and I would never forget it.

January 8, 2000.

That was just the thing about music, it captivated me. It made me not give a damn! I know who I am. I do what I want! There wasn’t anyone there to stop me.

Except… curfew.

Intro to Music 101

Suddenly my life had energy. It had purpose. I felt motivated to greet each day, and for the first time, I had an idea of what it was I wanted to do with my life. I was in love with music!

Having grown up as a damn near professional touring, Classical concert pianist, it was unbeknownst to me that radio stations existed past the lower 80-FM channels. For most of my life, the radio remained on Classical NPR, and the only albums floating around the glove compartment were Bob Dylan inspired folk artists like, Peter, Paul, and Mary.

This was the soundtrack to my life, and life… well, life was boring.

It was only during the summers my parents sent me away to stay with my older sister that I was introduced to the compelling sounds and lifestyle of Punk Rock.

Punk Rock was amazing. The short, repetitive sound of only three, simple chords on violent repeat on songs that never lasted more than a couple minutes was just what my hyperactive, over-emotional brain needed. It allowed me to put my energy into something, and feed my natural rebellion into what seemed like the only real thing I had ever believed in.

Punk Rock wasn’t just a sound – it was a cause!

My very mantra was to be anti-everything, before I even understood what these super-powered political responses meant.

As rebellious as I felt, I was too young to truly care about much more than what mattered to me in any singular moment as a teenage girl. That’s where ska came in, and that’s exactly how I fell in love.

 

Music is dead to me

The simple fact is, I stopped listening.  Everything reminded me of something.  Of someone.  Even the slightest sense of one familiar downbeat would throw my heart to the front of my rib cage, arms flinging forward in an attempt to brace myself for impact.  Eyes shut.  Sweat soaking my armpits instantly; heart beating louder in the ears, deafening each continuing beat until I know for sure I’m drowning now.  This is the point of no return and my only thought right now is – Thank God.

Mom always said dying wasn’t that easy.  I think it was her way of telling me I was being pathetic without giving too much attention to my teenage drama.  With a splintering pain, my heart ran full force into the front of my chest, frantically trying to push its way out; to burst through in fear that staying locked up within these dying catacombs, connected to these ears, to these feelings, would destroy what little remaining energy it had left, beating on in hope that someday these would be great memories – icons of a complicated road that ultimately led me somewhere.  

Each forward thrusting thud felt like the last time I’d ever feel my heart beat again.  With a faint energy, I felt myself reaching out in the same, desperate way my Mom used to ask me, “Why do you want to leave me?”

And if I’d continue?  If I would try to live through the moment, pushing through to a familiar, happy place, forced into my head by a pair of shit headphones given to me in a party swag bag – attempting to remember all the other times I might have heard this song in a particular place that wasn’t connected to one, single moment in time – my heart would petrify.  The attempt felt like my lungs were being filled with concrete.  The sludge would creep in one beat at a time until I couldn’t be sure if time had ever even passed or if I had always been this way, since the last time I listened.

My mind would erase.  Time no longer existed.  Yesterday was today.  This was happening to me now.  I could almost feel the failure in each beat as it sank, hopelessly forgiving.  Why do I do this to myself?  Go back?  Put a song on repeat?

“A long, long time ago, I can still remember how that music used to make me smile…” -Don McLean

I’m not quite sure the day the music died, for me anyway.  I can’t recall the exact moment my soul exited my body, leaving behind only cold, familiar memories of the moments that once made the soundtrack to my life so grandiose.

I remember when it really began for me – my obsession with music, that is.  I was 16.  I had spent the last several summers visiting my sister in a land where, in movies, music had been outlawed.  So when my parents and I moved there just before my 16th birthday, every corner of this Happy Valley was singing a familiar tune.

My best friend introduced me to the local music scene.  I felt like we had to be the two coolest girls in town every time our Mom’s dropped us off at the local all-ages music venue, Wrapsody.  This is my anthem. My riot.  My mixtape.  My story.

Listen to it on loud.