“I always say Jesus saved my soul, but music saved my life.”
2004-2008 were some amazing years. The North American hardcore and metal scene was exploding, and in Alabama, bands were popping up left and right. A lot of them fizzled out pretty quickly, dissolving and reincarnating with different lineups and different sounds. Venues were open everywhere, and if you didn’t have one in your town you usually didn’t have to drive more than thirty minutes to go to a show. Shows every Friday and Saturday night, a few pickups during the week, and so many shows each night that you usually had to pick between two or three different bands that you really loved because they weren’t playing at the same place. I fell in love with music for the first time in my life, a few years prior, thanks to this scene that was just beginning to grow in 2002. I eventually bought a bass and was determined that this was the life I was going to live. I wanted to be in a band. I wanted to play on stages, tour the country, be broke all the time, live in a van. Despite the poor music scene in my town, I was determined.
This didn’t characterize those four years entirely but a large portion of that time, this was the case. And this is what made me come alive. I’d give anything for those days again. Sadly, kids were poor and they’re who the “industry” drew the most attention from. Lots of teenagers who had no other place in the world but found their place in the local music scene. I was one of them. Unfortunately, you can’t sustain an industry off of the pocket change of broke teenagers. $5 shows don’t keep doors open, especially when mosh pits turn into fist fights and broken windows and trashed walls. For a while it seemed that whenever a venue closed its doors, another one opened down the street.. but over time, the numbers started dwindling. With less venues, and fewer shows to be booked on, this also meant that there were less band startups. Everyone who was starting bands was getting older, getting jobs, getting families. Then one day in 2009, I realized it was over. I knew that the decline was so great that these fantastic days were coming to an end, and I, bandless after five years, was out of luck.
There are almost no venues now. Almost no bands left to see. Any new band you hear of nowadays, it’s because you’re either friends with them or they’re superstars backed by an incredible label, followed by screaming girls, on their third CD. You just can’t make it anymore. Want to go to a show? Only if you’re prepared to wait a couple of months and drive a couple of hours.
Yesterday I found out that one of the last stable remnants of these days is finished. After a fantastic ten year run, The Chariot has announced their farewell tour. It’s hard to express my sentiment at the moment. My initial feeling is nostalgia mixed with a little grief. That era in my life is long over, and all that’s left is a feeling of growing old and watching all of your best friends die before you do.
Tonight, ten years after my journey began, I’m playing my first full show with my band, a group of people I could see myself spending a long time with, and the quote above, from The Chariot’s frontman, has never meant more to me than it does now. When a friend told me about their breakup yesterday, he mentioned that quote and it hit home. I realized how sorry my life would be without music. It’s given me hope, a purpose, a connection to God and to the universe and well.. everything.
Thank you for everything you’ve given.