A re-post from my personal blog.
Tonight marks the anniversary of the first time I ever heard the band Fluid Ounces live. I had been seeing a band called the Features around Murfreesboro and Nashville for the four months before, and I had bought my first Fluid Ounces record, Big Notebook for Easy Piano, a couple of weeks before since the Features were opening for them on January 29, 2000. The record was okay on first listen, but seeing them live was what really made the difference for me. I had really fallen for the piano songs in my two favorite bands at the time, the Beatles and R.E.M., and there I was being smacked by a band that employed that as its sound the whole time.
What I was not prepared for was the change that it would bring about for upon discovering the band. In college, I had largely tried to base my identity on being “the music guy:” you know, that guy who can always recommend the cool band that no one has ever heard of, collects vinyl, goes to hear live music all the time, puts down others’ music, etc. etc. etc. (see High Fidelity). Finding Fluid Ounces changed all that because I couldn’t be that music guy any more. You know why? I suddenly had no desire and no need to find any other music than what I had right there. To use the rock cliché, the songs were fun, the lyrics were good, and those guys could really play! But more than that: every song, in usually deceptive or metaphorical ways, felt like it was about me. Every single song resonated with me in such weird ways as I began to purchase their other records and hear the new ones as they were written and debuted on the live stage. I had always wanted to be a songwriter before that, but in addition to my utter failure at writing verse, I felt like this guy up there singing about a whole bunch of the stuff that I was going through, had gone through, or had felt for quite some time. He had effectively already used everything I would have had or wanted to write a song about (except for the opposite end of the rock spectrum on which the Minutement operate), all the while doing it better than I could. I suddenly didn’t care to find other bands since I found a band that sounded like they were writing every song about me personally, just down the street in Murfreesboro, instead of doing stadium tours around the country or living far off in Liverpool.
I ran from the show that night and purchased two more CD’s, the best of them all being In the New Old-Fashioned Way (until the recent release of Instant Nostalgia, which I consider to be a tie with it until further notice…). That one CD would stay in my player for months to come, as I was unable to listen to anything else for a very long time. I would see the band every time they would play, inviting all my friends and anyone who would come and hear them. Their interest waned though, and it took a while for me to come to terms with the fact that I was the only person reacting so personally to it all. I continued to see them and see them, listening to them far more than any other music. Their singer went through a divorce in 2004, a bit over a year before mine, and the songs that followed would serve as a great source of help as I went through the most difficult time in my life. He had already fallen in love again and was almost married again by the time I was actually divorced, and his subsequent songs were a great source of hope and inspiration for me that things would and could get better for me.
True, my musical tastes have evolved, and I’ve started listening to lots of new acts since that discovery, but Fluid Ounces has shifted to the center of it all. It doesn’t feel quite the same to listen to it now, since I don’t feel like I did when I was twenty-one anymore. But with all media, the more times you experience those things you love, the more that past experiences with them inform the present and call to mind previous experiences with them, as if a flood of nostalgia with each (in this case) song is recognizing and enjoying the sum of all the times I’ve listened to and enjoyed it, augmenting the experience for the better.
For posterity’s sake, that night’s setlist was as follows:
Life of the Party (intro)
Cops and Criminals
Amount to Something
Get Yourself Gone
Out of Your Element
The Last Thing
She Blinded Me with Science
Have Fun (Seth solo encore)
I have just posted two songs from this show in the last week, and I’ll post another song and a live mp3 from that very show on Thursday.