Music has the ability to recharge the soulPublished 10:35am Friday, July 10, 2009
Standing amidst a sea of the middle aged and the nearly middle aged packed into a fairly small rock club in Boston, I felt tired and old, but hopeful and alive.
As the band (middle aged and maybe a little world weary themselves) took the stage with a lightly crackling energy, you couldn’t help but forget about your problems at work, at home or the general gravity of life as you get older.
As I looked around the sold- out Paradise in Boston, I saw faces mostly older than mine, people who had not gone out in a while decked out in their best thirtysomething (or fortysomething) “night at a rock club gear.”
My fellow concertgoers wore old T-shirts, faux old T-shirts (likely from Target), ironic golf shirts or somewhat fanciful polo shirts with the collars askew.
I opted for khaki shorts and a black “wow am I deep, plus I used to live in New York” T-shirt.
The sold-out club was a sort of alternate universe, a place where Buffalo Tom – never a major commercial success – was the biggest band in the world.
The 500 or so of us knew every word, laughed at every bit of stage repartee and sang along to the wonderfully articulate and melodic rock songs that pulsated from the stage.
I personally reveled in the sense of belonging, enjoying the fact that everyone in the crowd not only knew the band, but believed in them.
After a week of explaining to the high school and college kids who work for me exactly who I was seeing and why they are great it was nice to be amongst the faithful – united in the idea that this was something special that we shared, damn everyone else not wise enough to join in.
Music has the power to be transformative and on this night Bill Janovitz, Tom Maginnis and Chris Colbourn – Boston’s own Buffalo Tom – turned us from a bunch of middle-aged parents and wage slaves into the college kids most of us were when we first heard the band.
We danced as much as our-pre-arthritic knees would allow and reveled in the cathartic joy of the moment in a way that just doesn’t happen too often once you have responsibilities.
While nostalgia and reliving past glories have their place, perhaps the most illuminating parts of the evening were when the band sprinkled in new songs.
Instead of being a sign to head for the bar or the bathroom, the new material filled me with a sense of hope about maintaining my own creative vibrancy.
Buffalo Tom might now write songs about their kids and growing older, but they retain an energy and relevance that has gotten stronger as they – and their fans – age.
We may not be able to go back to college and experience the joy of discovering something new and wonderful for the first time, but there are experiences left to have, joys we have not yet discovered.
Sometimes, it takes an old friend to remind you who you are and who you can be.
On a crowded stage in a sweaty club tucked into a pretty mediocre neighborhood, some old friends got up before us, strapped on their instruments and reminded me exactly who I am and who I want to be.
Maybe the show wasn’t as illuminating for everyone else and for some I’m sure it was just a pretty good rock show from a band they remember fondly.
For me, though, it was cleansing and reinvigorating – a reminder that small victories matter and defeat only happens when you stay down for the count.
Daniel B. Kline’s work appears in over 100 papers weekly.
Reached him at email@example.com or see his archive at dbkline.com or befriend him at facebook.com/dankline.