My taste in music hasn’t changed hugely since high school. I’ll always find new bands and artists to like, but my favourites when I was fifteen are still high up on my list of faves now. Take NIN, for example. I was a massive Trent Reznor fangirl when I was a wee goth teenager, and “The Only Time” is still one of my most listened to tracks. I finally got to see them live in 2009 at T in the Park and they were just as incredible as I’d imagined. I saw them again at the Hydro in 2014 and I lost my voice from singing along to EVERY SINGLE SONG. I rarely fall out of love with my old faithfuls.
These are the songs I listened to when I was an angsty, emo, goth teenager living in Toronto, and they are still the ones I love now that I am a slightly less angsty, emo, goth adult. I may not wear baggy jeans and band hoodies anymore, but I do still rock a mini kilt and a flannel shirt and some slightly sweary accessories. Maybe I don’t want to grow up. I’ll probably never be a fully fledged adult. I have a job and a business and a dog and a cat, and I might have lived in Scotland for more than a decade, but I am pretty much still a 15 year old Canadian pop-punk and industrial-rock loving kid at heart. With a little bit of country thrown in for flavour.
A few months ago I finally managed to go see The Offspring at the O2 in Glasgow. Now I know folk say that when you go to see your old favourites as an adult it can be a disappointment. That you’ll never recreate that feeling you had when you listened to their songs in your bedroom as a teenager. That it will never be the same. Well all I have say is that is a big fat load of steaming bollocks. They were INCREDIBLE.
My friend Athar and I somehow managed to rather gracefully make our way to the very front, despite the venue being packed. I don’t think I’ve ever experienced a nicer crowd; no elbows oot or dirty looks, no jumped up ‘roid freaks itching to start a fight or aggro wee boys. The mosh pit was POLITE. People were really going for it, but they were clearly there to jump around to the music and not just to bash the fuck out of each other or get out their aggressions. I saw a younger lass lose her footing and a huge middle aged skinhead grab ahold of her before she actually fell, help her up and check she was ok. Towards the end of the night, the bouncers were handing out glasses of water to people who were clearly too packed in at the front to get to the bar, and instead of downing them in one gulp a few girls further up were trying to pass them back as far they could reach. We were all sweaty, it was way too hot, and everyone still managed to be a little bit selfless.
I loved the 90s. Hell, I still love the 90s, because that’s probably the last time I had actual memories attached to certain songs rather than a genre of music. I will literally stop what I’m doing when I hear some tunes; I will tell people to stop talking so I can listen. They’re also the ones I put on when I’m drunk AF with my friends after we come back from the pub, because for some reason the 90s is that sketchy time period where everyone born from 1979 to 1999 seems to know all the lyrics to every song. I realise some people say that bands like The Offspring and Greenday veered towards the more mainstream, but do I give a toss? No. Hipsters didn’t exist then, and our disaffected youth listened to “Self Esteem”. There is really nothing quite like the feeling of going to a gig and knowing the words to every single song.
I’d be the first to admit I’m woefully unfit right now. I actually need to start doing some exercise soon, or ski season will be painful. No other kind of workout really compares to the sheer energy of a bunch of folk literally bouncing around to music at a gig, and I mean bouncing. I’m pretty sure I was airborne at one point.
For the first time in ages in that kind of setting, I’d had barely anything to drink. There was absolutely no way I could have gotten to the bar and back to our prime spot, nor did I really care if I had a drink in my hand. It also meant I woke up the next day feeling pretty damned good.
It had been awhile since I’d been to a “big” gig. I won’t go to commercial festivals anymore because the atmosphere is pretty terrible. I’m not a huge fan of most of the headliners that play at T in the Park or Download, and people just seem more aggressive. They get so drunk they can’t function, and no one seems to give a toss about their fellow festival-goers at all. Same goes for gigs. I have zero interest in that sort of poor patter and I have no time for anyone who goes to a gig, pays good money to get in, and yet still wastes their time being a confrontational idiot.
That being said, there was NONE of that at The Offspring. Much like Greenday and NIN, there was a pretty diverse mix of ages. I saw folk there much older than me with grey beards and grandkids in tow. There were teenagers barely old enough to drink. People who first got into the band and the genre in the 80s when their first album came out, or who grew up listening to “Smash” in their bedrooms in the 90s (that would be me), or who knew just knew all the words to “Pretty Fly for a White Guy”.
So please, if there’s that one band you loved growing up, the one you listened to on repeat in your bedroom and memorised the words to every single song, I’m telling you to dust off your old boots and studded choker and go and see them live.
It will be totally worth it.