This past Saturday, watching Broken Social Scene play a free show at Harbourfront, I nodded my head and convinced myself that I had seen them play there before in the summer of '05 (the summer where I was nineteen, the one after all these major life changes had taken place.) I watched Kevin Drew sweat on stage, and I thought to myself: the last time I saw these guys play, I had just gotten through the hardest year of my life. Yeah, I thought. That's right. I had survived some tough shit and made it to the other side, where KD et al were standing on a stage and playing songs just for me, for free. Yeah. Two thousand and five.
Then Brendan Canning grabbed his mic: "the last time we played here was in 2oo4!"
And I thought, fuck, really?
It was five years ago. I had just been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. I was little more than a month away from moving to Halifax for university. I had accomplished nothing that summer;, nothing more than learning how to stab my skin with needles. My brother took me downtown for the day, and then to this free show at Harbourfront. I was all too familiar with You Forgot It In People, had listened to it plenty of times in our parents' stationwagon while rain ran down the windshield. But this was the first time I had ever heard them play live. And it hit me hard.
At the time, I had no idea that this band would stick around for the next five years of my life. I couldn't have known that their music would be there, playing quietly in the background, through so many crucial moments to come.
I would see them play, again, at the Marquee Club in the Fax, just a few short weeks before it closed down. It was the first time I would use a fake id, but in reality I wouldn't use it: the bouncer would check my friends, but, amazingly, not me. I'd be slightly stoned, a little drunk. I'd lose the others in the crowd and watch the show all alone, feel the trumpets, feel everything.
I would trek through a snowstorm to buy Stars' Set Yourself On Fire the week it came out, and I'd listen to it every goddamn day, even the day later that spring when I'd move away from the Fax forever. I'd sit on a plane and watch the coast disappear.
I would buy the next album when it arrived in the fall of 05. I'd listen to "It's All Gonna Break" after every crush failed, and I'd feel better. "Backyards" was to be playing in the background the night my mom would call to tell me that my dad's secret affair had been revealed and they were divorcing.
I'd sit on someone's bed, watching Half Nelson on his computer, well aware I was making the gravest error, "Shampoo Suicide" everywhere.
I'd learn to love my first name, all thanks to Feist.
I'd fall in love, real love, finally, over a shared appreciation for music and a mutual history of arts & crafts moments.
And then I'd see them again, one cool summer night in a garbage-filled city, from my spot in a crowd thick with assholes. A tall guy behind me would knee me in the back; the hippie girl in front would toss her frizzy hair into my face. I'd be so short that I could barely see. But I would still feel something. They'd go on to play four encores, and I'd feel all of it.
I feel it, still.