Grüß Gott everyone. I’m as moved to Germany as one can be while waiting for every piece of furniture they own to arrive on a ship from America. Thought I’d take some of the spare time I have to spin you a little yarn – you know how I do. Munich has inspired me. That said…
I am spoiled. We all are. Just yesterday I was asked to review a record and I was silly enough to ask Jamie if he needed my new snail mail address or if he was just going to forward it via email. I could almost hear his eyes rolling from across the Atlantic, “Who has a physical mailing address anymore?” The little punk actually wrote that to me. You know I just heard that people under the age of 30 don’t wear watches anymore? Something about cell phones and clocks. Great fucking Scott. Yes, well at one time (as I point at my WATCH) it was truly difficult to get my hands on music – via shop, mail or Pony Express – I so badly wanted to own. I’ve said it before: the Internet is a miraculous gift to music aficionados. Especially to those of us who back in the 80s called ourselves “progressive” or “alternative”. These days, genres are too many to mention, but I think we can collectively agree that via avenues such as this blog, for instance, obtaining music with ease is quite ordinary.
The bands whose music I gravitated to twenty-something years ago, aside from a handful of US-based groups, primarily hailed from Western Europe, 90% being from the UK. I would have given my left foot to live in Europe as a teenager. I had no idea what it was really like, I just knew I’d be riding around on a bicycle with no particular agenda whilst wearing a Moz t-shirt and horn-rimmed glasses. It’d be so glamorous. That said, if I wanted a record? Two words: special order. Sometimes even that was a lost cause:
Abby: “But I WILL pick it up.”
Fascist Pig Shop Owner: “But if you don’t, nobody else will buy it.”
And so it goes…
Merchandise was the same way. The hallowed t-shirt emblazoned with a band’s name or the silhouette of a front man was super hard to come by and most certainly couldn’t be purchased at the local mall. Catalogues were the answer. Burning Airlines was a personal favorite. At the end of the day, an actual concert was key to obtaining the coolest paraphernalia (that didn’t look like it was hand screened by an 8th grader with substandard materials). Live shows were a veritable goldmine. The merchandise, badges, shirts and bumper stickers were, for a modest price, ripe for the picking. This, too, was a longshot for me, as bands had to 1) tour the US and 2) decide that the Pittsburgh market was a lucrative one. Ouch.
I must say that for a girl who lived in suburban towns throughout both her high school and college careers, I managed to catch a lot of live shows. Inevitably the European bands hit larger cities (not the Burgh) and I missed many biggies that I would have loved to have seen. I longed for a day when I could see who I wanted to, live, within 30 minutes from my door. My college days up through not so long ago had me geographically situated within spitting distance of, or actually in, the Washington Metro area. It was convenient and awesome. Even so, there were still bands who only toured major W. Euro cities, NYC and LA who I missed out on seeing. Now that I am living in Europe, I will see every gig I ever dreamed of. My 37 going on 17 year-old brain tells me this is a rational way of thinking.
This past weekend my better half and I spent some time spring gig ticket shopping. The Radio Dept. and Mogwai – done and done. Then, as I was catching up on some reading, there it was. Godspeed! They are touring?! I floundered around websites for a list of tour dates: DC (but of course…I no longer live there), Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam, Berlin, Poznan…wait? No Munich? After a triple check, NO MUNICH. For a minute we got all kinds of ridiculous and searched for cheap (heh) flights to Poland and Spain to catch a show, making sure that it was a weekend date (damn language school and career). We collected ourselves and hung our heads in defeat shortly thereafter. It just isn’t in the cards. There’s no way to swing it (and feel fiscally responsible). This is particularly upsetting to Albert. I’ve seen them once before (at the 4040 over a decade ago in Philly…anyone, anyone?), he never has.
I can’t say that I expect this to be a regular occurrence, both a favorite band not playing in the heart of my new city AND the feverish flight searching when they don’t. I love my new life. Maybe a little too much. Touché, red, white and blue – you got me. Touché.
[Abby’s Road is a Knox Road feature published every other Friday.]