Tuesday, August 16, 2011

This Rule-Breaking Post Is Standing Room Only

I made a few rules when I first started this blog.
I've also broken all of them but one.
I think I'm about to break that rule.
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Reginald Kitty is not amused.

We've talked about the Plain White T's here and there on this little slice of Interwebbing, but never in real detail; some things just need to be kept under wraps, and my love of Tom Higgenson's writing prowess is one of them. Seriously, this guy is a modern ruddy genius.
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Once again, the pattern that is my whole life shows itself in a photograph: lead-vocalist-guitarist-songwriters donning tapered trousers and variations of the French comb-forward. I'm beginning to wonder if I do this subconsciously.
By the way, yes, I understand this is a bit of an older photograph. Sue me.


Though I enjoy bits and bobs spanning their catalog, I have a genuine love of the Big Bad World album; hell, the thing is a near masterpiece -- it would achieve masterpiece status if the band hadn't pulled a Paul on us and slipped that one song in that just makes you scratch your head in wonderment ("I Really Want You"? Really, Mr. Higgenson?). Believe it or not, I'm listening to Big Bad World as I type this post. Genuine. Love. Also, the documentary following the recording process was gear.

Sure, the album was slammed by critics, but who listens to them, anyway? Two words to prove my point: Robert Christgau.
And what of the poppy punky vibe of pre-2008? In that regard, Every Second Counts is a near-masterpiece, too (again, "You and Me"? Why?) Even touches of their pre-"Delilah" catalog, all the way back to their first major-label release (though with particular attention to 2005's All That We Needed), there is at least one song that will stick in my head, and I will sing for days. My sister even commented on my secret love of the Plain White T's the last time she investigated my iTunes library (I also told her to take the Big Bad World album with her. I still don't know if she did; I'll ask later).
To gloss over the minor points, the Plain White T's have been a favorite of mine for years. It cannot be helped. Put simply, I love it.
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I typed "I love it" into Google Images, and this little guy came up. Alrighty, then.

I find it interesting that they tour quite often. It's fabulous for them, I would suppose; go out, do what you love to do, get paid to do it, and -- from a writing perspective -- know that people remember and enjoy your words/music. Touring is a lovely thing, indeed.
Here's the thing.
Our schedules over the past four years have been consistently two weeks apart.
Nothing ever comes to this po-dunky little part of our great state, so, naturally, you have to go to whatever it is you want to see. The problem lies in that performers often overlook that the entire population of Texas does not live in the Dallas/Houston/Austin/San Antonio circle. Those of us that live outside the metro areas are stuck with a drunken Davy Jones, and a local Barry Williams replacement (this is a 100% true story). The joke I always make is that once a performer has been to this town once, they make a note to never come back, so you'd better catch them while they're here. Isn't life hard enough for people with my musical taste? Several problems lie with such a blessed burden:

*Most people have never heard of the performer in this country

*They don't tour anywhere near you

*They're incredibly old, or possibly deceased


Of those, I find the scheduling issues most frustrating. It's happened four or five times now, and on each occasion, I always think that there will come a time when I'll laugh at how easy it will be to get the timing right (ain't that just life?).
Now that I've set everything up just a smidge, I'll tell you about a recent conversation I had with my mother.
Last week, I read on the Plain White T's Facebook feed (oh, shut up) that Fall tour dates have been announced. I see the Two Weeks Nightmare playing out before my eyes as I look at the schedule, though I'm not sure of my own travel dates. All it took was to ask my mother what days we would be leaving for her to ask "who's gunna be there?" (For the record, my mother knows me better than I do, and vice versa. It's psychotically, bizarrely, mind-blowingly fun.)
"What does it matter?" I argue.
"Who's gunna be there?"
"The Plain White T's."
"Oh, I'd like to see them!"
Hmmmm. I think I've made a big mistake, here.
You see, I kind of protect my mother from music I know she won't like. I don't ask her to listen to anything that didn't come straight from the 60's and 70's original sources (even then, I try to avoid certain things; for example, the stopping point for The Who is directly before the Who's Next album, as she has a hard time handling "Baba O'Riley"). No All Time Low, One Night Only, The Killers (though she was with me when I saw The Killers, if seeing them in a non-performance setting counts), and -- shock of the decade -- pre-2008 Plain White T's. As an unrelated side note, she cannot escape Ryan Ross; when she sings Young Veins songs, I feel I have done right by her.
But everything else?
No.
We've never even discussed the Two Weeks Nightmare. This means that she is basing a liking of going to a gig on a handful of songs. Seeing where this train was headed, I tried to let her know she might get a bit of a shock with the setlist.
"You wouldn't like going," I tell her, truth dripping from every syllable.
"I like that one song," she tells me.
"You're gunna pay for a $25 ticket to hear one song?"
"And I like that other song," she replies.
"They probably won't play it live," I said.
"Why?"
"Psychedelia is hard to replicate live."
"Well, I'd go and have fun with you!"
A little while later, she said, "do they play in places with seats, or do you have to stand up?"
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I believe I have given her the wrong impression of this band.
How unfortunate. Maybe I haven't done right by her after all.
I'm afraid she would get there and end up with something like this...

Yes, some of the lyrics are incorrect, but the audio quality was my main focus. Also, congratulations if you recognized that this song was taken from the EP directly following All That We Needed.

If the poll that flashed across their Facebook news feed (oh, shut up... again) is any indication, I just might be right.

I think the point of this story is that the maternal-role-reversal switcheroo from mother to daughter has officially begun.
At least she doesn't want to go to an All Time Low gig.

Would she still have fun with me if one of the bras on Mr. Barakat's mic stand were mine?
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I doubt it.

Post Script

I let my mother preview each blog before I post it, just to get a different perspective on the entry. We first previewed the All Time Low video; I skipped past the song, knowing she wouldn't like it, the point being to only show her the audience interaction portion. She asked me "the Plain White T's aren't like that, are they?" with a worried look on her face.
I then played her "If I Told You", during which she pretended to dance, then abruptly left.
Yes, I gave her the wrong impression. I'll make it up to her by playing something good.

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