You're only as old as you feel. That's the expression, right? That's a thing that people say?
Last weekend, I went out on Saturday night. On Queen Street West. To hear live music. At a club.
That's a very strange combination of words for me. I'm a 47-year-old man who's spent most of my life living more like an 80-year-old. The last time I was in a club on Queen West, it was an intimate little CD release with about 70 people in attendance. I'm pretty sure it was on a weeknight. I've very sure it was over and I was on the way home already long before 11.
This time, I wasn't even getting to The Horseshoe until 10:30, to see an act that wasn't starting its set until 11:30. I haven't been in The Horseshoe since I can't even remember when. And when did they add the A&W glory hole beside the bar? It's kind of amazing, or it would be if it were something better than A&W.
But you see, when you're a 47-year-old shut-in, going to The Horseshoe at 10:30 on a Saturday night is the sort of thing you do for an old friend, and Michael is an old friend. I don't mean that he's old chronologically, although, yeah, that too. I mean that, post-university, Michael is probably my longest-standing friend. For more than two decades now, Michael and I (and our friend Bonnie) have been getting together for dinner every single month, like clockwork. Michael is an old friend. And he's had a hell of a life. A great career, that he walked away from to chase a passion, which turned into another great career. A 40+ year marriage — no, a partnership — and three kids (one of whom, if you've ever been on the internet before, you probably already know) who turned into pretty awesome adults.
The baby of the family is son Zach, who's a musician. Apart from being a part of one of Toronto's most in-demand formal occasion bands, he's also the bassist in a group called Weaves. Which is why I found myself arriving at The Horseshoe at 10:30 on a Saturday night. The show was the release party for their first full-length LP, appropriately titled "Weaves".
You know how there's a moment for a band? A moment where they're starting to develop some momentum, some critical buzz? A moment where they're not widely known, but those who do know know that they're in on the ground floor of something special? Where when they play live, there's something just hanging in the room that you can almost reach out and touch? Now, I don't pretend to be a music critic, or a seer, but for my money Weaves is at that moment. Right now. Last Saturday night.
Look, again, I'm 47 years old. I've become a person who doesn't listen to new music, unless I'm in a rental car on a trip for work or I happen to have it foisted upon me at karaoke. The last time I was buying new music regularly, Carlos Santana was probably playing guitar on Rob Thomas' love song to his wife. The Dixie Chicks were several years from being shunned. Ja Rule was just entering his Pitbull v1.0 phase.
All of which is to say that there's no earthly reason why I should like Weaves. They're most often described as "alt-punk", which I believe is French for "get off my damn lawn". Their songs are unconventional and challenging, like Jackson Pollock canvases of sound. I'm used to albums that are streetcar rides, bumpy at times, but ultimately rolling along a set of tracks to the destination you knew they were headed to when you got on. "Weaves" is… well, "Weaves" is the 1:30 AM Yonge bus from Bloor, when the subway's down, and you don't know if they're serving the local stops or not, and the guy across from you looks like he might turn the aisle into a vodka-and-Red-Bull biohazard, and… oh, hey, how'd we get to Eglinton already? Which, incidentally, is also a pretty good description of my trip home from the show.
There's no earthly reason why I should like Weaves, or "Weaves". And I don't — I love them. I haven't felt that charged up after hearing a band play in forever. I say this not because Michael is one of my oldest friends, or because I remember when Zach was just a rugrat with his arm in a black cast in my living room, and now he's a grown-ass man realizing his dreams. And I say this not because, like some excellent bands before them, they managed to find a way to make a Beatles' song listenable. I say it because I bought the CD at the show, even though I have Spotify on every electronic device and who needs physical media anymore. I say it because I listened to the album at least once a day at work for the week afterward. I say it because I playlisted the concert in order to recreate it for my wife on Tuesday night.
I didn't get home that Saturday night (Sunday morning) until close to 2 AM, and I wasn't able to wind down and get into bed until well after 3. It's many days later as I write this, and I can still feel the tweak in my throat from bar-loud-talking. I was still dragging just that little bit from getting into bed hours later than usual, five days later.
But you're only as old as you feel. And if it's possible to feel simultaneously 24 again and every bit of my 47 years and then some, well that's how old I am right now. Which seems like it'd average out much younger than normal, if only for a little while. So thanks for that, Weaves. That's the power of music.