Music

Psyched Up: Flying Solo

31 October 2013

Brian King of Japandroids is hunched over the mic. His entire body heaves. “When they love you and they will/ (And they will!)/ I’ll tell ‘em all they’ll love in my shadow/ And if they try to slow you down/ (slow you down)/ Tell them all to go to hell.”

Lying atop outstretched hands are adolescent men with matted hair and rolled up sleeves, being thrown around like Coachella beach balls. Everything I’ve been worrying about for the past few months just floats away. The relentless fear about getting a job after uni. The anxiety over coming to this gig by myself. The dread of ending up just another person who sells themselves to someone else’s dream. All of it dissolves the second Japandroids starts playing.

As I sat on the ledge in front of the DJ booth at The Corner Hotel with 40 minutes to wait until the band started, I felt uncomfortable. It was as though there was a spotlight on me, illuminating a piece paper stuck to my forehead, reading LONER like the world’s saddest game of celebrity heads. I took measured sips of soda water and kept reminding myself that I just had to get through those forty minutes, and then I’d be absorbed by the crowd, and no one would be able to tell that I was by myself.

Japandroids came into my life exactly when I needed life-affirming anthems. I’d spent a few good months asleep and recovering from chronic fatigue. I was depressed, and I cried a lot. One day when I couldn’t find my hairbrush I burst into tears, and just went back to bed for the week. I often had to excuse myself from conversations ‘cos the self-hatred was too overwhelming, and I didn’t want to aggressively sob in front of people. Everything felt hopeless.

And then I heard “Continuous Thunder” by Japandroids. Stephen Fry once described why we yearn for songwriters—we want someone reach out and say, “You’re not alone, we’re all scared inside.” Even the confident, self-assured types fear life, they just don’t let it stop them doing what they want. We’re all equally afraid and uncertain.

So when King sang, “Well if I had all the answers, and you had the body you wanted/ would we love with a legendary fire?” I thought about the times I’ve fucked up relationships by wishing tall away for a tomorrow that never happened. All because I couldn’t face being vulnerable and imperfect to someone. And I don’t feel alone in those moments, ‘cos here’s a guy from Canada singing a line that lessened my tears. And people are pumping their fists in the air, and unapologetically yelling along to the same anthems I am.

Only the lonely know how I feel tonight, and those that were once lonely are hurling their hearts into a PA, and making an entire venture thrash about. I’m alone. But I don’t feel lonely.


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