Thursday, September 17, 2009

It was meant to be, Mr. Vanderslice

I spent the day yesterday walking through some very wet Vancouver neighbourhoods. Feeling a little melancholic with winter coming and the trip being half over, the weather did not help. I was waiting in line for some express internet use at the public library, when I happened to see a tiny ad in The Straight. John Vanderslice playing tonight at the Media Club! It's fate!

Okay, back story here. Before leaving on this pilgrimage, I was listening to his album Romanian Names on repeat. I began to humilate myself, mouthing the words shamelessly as I sulked around Toronto. One song in particular, "Too Much Time" became this angsty call to arms for me. I HAD to leave Toronto. There's no excuse for this kind of teenage behaviour, but sometimes a song sums up exactly how you're feeling and this was one of those times. Right before I left, I began to think my obsession a little unhealthy. What if I left Toronto and the song lost all its meaning? I asked my pal Eric to wipe my iPod for me and put on his music. He made some good picks. I've tied Rural Alberta Advantage to the towns and cities in the songs forever and Boards of Canada is now bound to Highway 93 between Banff and Jasper. But across four provinces, I was still humming my song. There was a pit in my stomach that only the sweeping bars of "Too Much Time" could fill.

So, back at the public library, I abandoned the free internet, hopped on my bike and rode to Red Cat Records to grab a ticket. The whole time I was imaging the scene I would kick up if there were none left. ("Whadda MEAN there's none left? I've come all this way! You have no idea how important this is!!") Suddenly, after a week and a half of aimless drifting, I had a purpose and it was to see John that night. It was around 4 o'clock at that point, only hours before he would get on the stage. I raced through the streets, getting lost, asking directions, flinging my bike against a post and tromping into the tiny shop. A lady was already at the counter, buying around $130 worth of tickets. Was she buying all the Vanderslice tickets? Shouldn't they watch out for scalpers? Start to feel intense anger toward the skinny indie male behind the counter. She leaves with a stack of tickets in hand and I approach the desk. "Sure thing," he says, handing one over immediately. I feel sheepish, pay for the ticket and leave.

I get to the show far too early and stand around by myself, sipping a Kokanee because I think that's what people do here. Show start times vary between cities (I once missed most of an Animal Collective show in Montreal cause I was on Halifax time, where shows get underway three hours late.) Finally, a few awkward Kokannees later, Vanderslice appears. I prepare myself for the worst: he's got tons of albums, he may not play that song, and it'll be okay if he doesn't. It'll be okay, Laura. It'll be okay. Without even a hello to the audience, he launches into the song. MY song. I'm in ecstasy, stupid grin stretched across my face, my whole body starts to relax. After so many miles, sweet sweet relief. I know it was meant to be. The forces came together to make me see that ad and get me to the store on time and place me front and centre for this song. The only problem? John has this smile creeping around the corner of his mouth, like he's on the verge of laughing. Got dammit! This is fate - the least he could do is keep a straight face. But no, he's smiling. And I'm pretty sure he's smiling right at me. Don't take yourself so seriously, Laura, he's saying. Everything's gonna be alright.

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