How to not be an old jaded music fan (this is not an answer)

I love music. Probably a good thing, even a requirement, for someone who edits a music site. But I’m not always as excited about music, especially new music, as I remember being at one time. And that’s kind of sad.

One way of interpreting what’s going on here is that there’s just too much music, metal included, as critic/scholar Keith Kahn-Harris has suggested: “The ease of finding what was once obscure takes away the pleasures of anticipation, of discovery, of searching things out.”

A jaded ear also seems like an inevitable result of age. When you’re just beginning to discover music for yourself and to discover new kinds of music that differ from the music that saturates the environment around you — well, there’s just so much you haven’t heard yet that’s it’s a helluva lot easier for a song, a band, an album, to strike you as new or fresh. A few decades of near-constant music consumption can have the opposite effect, making every new release seem like just more of the same.

Every once in a while though, I’m still able to feel music in a way that reinvokes all the passion, and the memory of the last time always helps keep me going, anticipating the next moment when something will catch me off guard or resonate with my ears, brain and the rest of my body on just the right frequency.

It happened a couple of weeks ago at the Baltimore House in Hamilton. It helps that I like the decor (ornate gothic plus industrial neon? oh, yes). The company and the drinks were good. And though the first band up didn’t sound new, their nostalgia came across as more heartfelt than superficial or ironic, and we enjoyed the sound.

Then Toronto’s VIRE took the stage – one guy and his drum kit, some programmed tube lighting and electronic… accompaniment? I’m not sure I’ve ever described music as accompanying a percussion performance before, but that’s really the way I experienced VIRE’s set. It was dancey industrial, including a revamped version or adaptation of Joy Division’s “Love Will Tear Us Apart.” But it wasn’t the sound so much as the musical and visceral excitement that made the set so striking and memorable.



I had a similar experience watching Ottawa’s The Visit perform live in Hamilton this past December. Though The Visit sound nothing like VIRE and produce a very different emotional reaction, the character of the excitement – and my enthusiastic response – was the same.

If you get a chance to check out a live performance by The Visit or VIRE, go. And remain open to the possibility of musical delights in unexpected places. It’s not a cure for the jadedness or cynicism that comes from being an aging music fan, but it might be enough to jolt you out of that cynicism for a little while.

Laura is associate editor of and co-host of weekly metal show Kill Eat Exploit the Weak on CFMU 93.3 FM. She loves doom, prog, cats and basketball, believes in equity and social justice and is not cool with any form of discrimination, marginalization, harassment or oppression.

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