Monday, January 24, 2011

The JE Guide to Life gets rich!

And sometimes that music drifts through my car
On a spring night when anything is possible
And I close my eyes and I nod my head
And I wonder how you been and I count to a hundred and ten
Because you’ll always be my hero, even if I never see you again

- The Dismemberment Plan, "Back and Forth"

On Thursday, the Dismemberment Plan is playing in the Big City. One of my favorite bands from my late teens and early twenties, the Plan was awesome, danceable indie rock of the kind that cannot be described, merely listened to. Or maybe I just am not the one to describe. But listen, seriously, I promise you'll like it.

Anyway, they are playing here on Thursday, after having played a couple of big reunion shows in their (and my) hometown of DC. Although I eschew reunion shows as a hard and firm rule (including, and especially, my most teen-angsty favorite band of all time, the Smashing Pumpkins) this is The One True Exception. Even six years ago, when they apparently played a 2005 reunion show as a benefit in DC, I didn't have the heart to come out and dance on the Dismemberment Plan stage again. But now is a different time. I am a different me.

I am, of course, the person I am today because of everything that I was in the time leading up to this moment. I once heard that people change their fundamental personalities every 10 years. Not that I believe it, but I see the general point. We evolve and grow as people, and it should be that way. But do we owe anything to our former selves? Do I owe it to my 20-year old self to go out to a concert on a Thursday night and dance along to music that moved me so fervently 10 years ago, but that I rarely listen to anymore? (Although when I do, I am still transported to that happy place at the side of the main stage at the Black Cat wearing a Salvation Army t-shirt and bright pink hat.)

Am I driven to see the Dismemberment Plan out of some allegiance or some desperate reach for my younger self, or is this something that almost-30 year old me wants to do for herself? The reason I don't usually go to reunion concerts is because I'm usually interested in letting bygones stay that way. In this case, I think I'm doing this for the me of Now. And I don't think I'm the only one.

In reading Facebook posts and Tweets and all sorts of other social media updates I've been watching my friends that are still in the DC area going through their own Dismemberment Plan revivals. Hell, just reading band interviews it's been pretty clear that the band is deliberately reliving its past from a very different place. Everyone in the band has "real jobs" and nobody is trying (as of yet... supposedly) to turn this into a new career. Just like all my college friends and I have moved on in our lives from that time when we would drive up on school nights, park somewhere on 14th St. and wolf down seitan burgers at Food For Thought before the first band came on stage, getting back to the dorms at somewhere past 2 am to stumble into bedrooms darkened by our already sleeping roommates.

It's a different place in life for all of us. Some of my friends are parents. Some of them are highly specialized and extremely well-paid careerists. Some are both. Some live in communal houses in the city, work day jobs in social services and play in bands at night. Some teach high schoolers, college kids. Some are working behind bars or counters. Some have supported their parents through the end of life. Who knows where we'll be in another ten years. We're just getting through our twenties.

So I guess this D Plan show is kind of a reunion of sorts. Even though I'm not getting to go with all the same people I used to dance with, and even though my self-consciousness will probably be uncomfortably palpable, I am looking forward to reconnecting with a feeling that isn't (yet) anchored in age. The joy of possibility. I was about 19 or 20 when I went to see a Plan show with my friend K, a decidedly anti-scenester (that's what we used to call hipsters) non-indie-rock loving friend who simply agreed to accompany me, probably out of boredom. At the end of the night, even he was smiling at the unselfconsciousness of the dancing, the fun and excitement that radiated from the band, the music and the audience. If this show fails to replicate that moment, I won't be surprised. But that's okay, because when I turn on my iPod and listen to The City, I feel thrilled for who I was at the beginning of my twenties, and excited for what my thirties are going to be. In a way, maybe, it's letting go of the past and acknowledging that even this moment is the brink of a new era. Who knows how I'll look back on it. Right now, I'm just feeling ready to embrace it.

We exhaust ourselves trying to get there.
- The Dismemberment Plan, "Back and Forth"

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