INT. LADIES ROOM, SOUTHGATE HOUSE REVIVAL, KENTUCKY, USA
"I see all these, like, sixteen year olds, and I'm, like, you have NO IDEA. This is the soundtrack of my FRESHMAN YEAR DORM ROOM."
We're at The Breeders show in Newport, KY, a "hometown" warmup gig for LSXX: their Last Splash 20th anniversary tour. A girl who appears to be in her early twenties leans shy against the sink in a blue skirt, out of the way of the woman dismissing clueless sixteen year olds.
"I cried, like, three times during Drivin' on 9." In one of the stalls, someone had written they lyrics to Fleetwood Mac's "Dreams" on the wall in cursive with a Sharpie. "Like, what would these kids know?"
"We're so OLD!"
"I'm 36, I got you."
"I'm THIRTY-SEVEN. HA."
"You're all so young with the threes in your ages. I've got a four." And back on stage in the old church, prepping for their encore, the Deal sisters & co., with fives now in their ages, transcended all of those expectations that come with numbers.
I'm with these women who by shouting out numbers stake their claim on having "been there" way back when, and yet I'm not: last night I realized what feelings are wasted on us when we're 17. I don't think I was ready for this album back then. I wasn't there. Twenty years later, I had finally arrived to the point where I was ready, just in time. I finally got it, for the first time.
INT. CONCERT HALL
The picture I took at The Breeders show last night: Kelley smiling, Jo posing, Kim obscured from view by a pole and Jim by the drum kit, Carrie fiddling, Mike (Kelley's partner in the amazing R.Ring) taking it all in from the wings.
A second later I was asked by a staff member to put my camera away: the band asked that there be no photography without a pass, which I didn't realize when I took the picture, so I won't post it here. (Future advice: add "NO PHOTOGRAPHY" to your "NO AUDIO/VIDEO RECORDING" sign and your staff won't have to spend the night getting people to put away their camera phones. Which should be kept in pockets anyway; it was a great show without those glowing interferences. I normally allow myself three photos at the beginning before enjoying the rest of the show. But I digress.)
In lieu of photographic adornments I'll say this: wow. Like, WOW. Seeing The Breeders live again for the first time since 1994 reminded me what musically creative women those are up there on that stage. They had always been female icons to me; I wouldn't have been in a band in college if it weren't for Kim Deal (and certainly we never would have covered "Caribou" if it weren't for her). But their creativity was something I hadn't fully grasped, or wasn't yet ready to grasp, until I saw the whole album played through live like that. You don't hear this stuff come out of just anyone. Go and listen to Last Splash again, all the way through: it's sonically unpredictable and beautiful. It's hard and soft, it's country and it's rock. It's Ohio and England and '90s and now and feminist and still transcendent of gender and time and place.
And all of it up on that stage last night was in its right place, and executed really, really well. And I was finally in my right place.
Leaning up against a wall of an old church with a beer in one hand, watching the crowd of Daytonites and Cincinnatians and Kentuckians FULLY into it, feeling seventeen again, feeling all of nearly thirty-seven, and this line from "Saints" finally made real sense to me: Summer is ready when you are.
(cross-posted from Tumblr)
© Zan McQuade. All rights reserved.