Music reminds me how cyclical everything is. Putting on a certain song or artist can bring you back to an exact moment – me on a bus in Nicaragua listening to “Teenage Icon” by The Vaccines on full blast because I was spending two weeks with twenty other people and my introverted self just needed time alone, or Abby and I running errands and singing Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off” at the top of our lungs after one of the worst nights of my life. Music draws parallels to who you are now, things that connect you to your past self and your future self, threads that pull time into cycles. It always makes me feel like I belong to the whole world and the whole world belongs to me.
Last night I bought a ticket to see Patti Smith play with Nick Cave in London. To be quite honest, my heart acted before my mind could and I clicked “Buy” before I had even registered what I was doing, but those impulse decisions are often the best ones. I discovered Patti when I was sixteen and in a place where I didn’t really understand who I was or who I was supposed to be. She spoke to the parts of me that I didn’t like, the parts that felt unworthy and untalented and unimportant. I look at her and how much she’s done and how she gives herself over to the world and I think that one day, maybe I’ll be able to do that too.
I’ll be seeing Patti at the tail end of my time in England. Moving to the UK has been my dream since I was nine years old, and it feels good that Patti, who believes in her dreams and who makes me believe in mine, will be the one to see me off. I’ll be accomplishing something I always imagined but never really thought I’d reach, and she’ll be there, watching me come out of it. That’s what alignment feels like.
I’m going to so many shows when I’m in England that it kind of feels like I’m not even going there for school, but for fun. Spector just dropped a new song and are expected to announce a bunch of tour dates, so hopefully I’ll be able to stand in a club and sing “Chevy Thunder” and “All the Sad Young Men” back to the band. Charlotte and I are seeing Rostam on my very last day in London, and I can’t wait to be enveloped in his calm and brought to life in front of him. In April, you’ll catch Abby and I in the last row of the floor at a Harry Styles concert, having the time of our lives. I’m also seeing The Vaccines, which I’ve already talked about, but now I have tickets and it’s really actually happening. The only time I’ve ever seen them play live was as Mumford & Sons’ opening act in 2013, and almost five years later, I’ll be seeing them play to ten thousand people in their hometown, and I’ll be there marvelling at how good life feels in that moment.
The girl who discovered Patti Smith was a different girl than the one who will be seeing her on June third. Some things have remained the same – I’m often still scared to share my work, but at least I’m creating it and believing that I have something valuable to give to the world. I’ve gotten rid of the awful black eyeliner I spent a summer smudging onto my lids, but I still put on a white button-down every time I want to feel like Patti’s with me. Spector became one of my favourite bands when Moth Boys became the soundtrack to a pivotal moment in my life, a time of letting go of all the old and stepping hesitantly into the new. And I’ll be seeing them when everything is new all over again.
Harry was my teenage crush, and I will admit that he is still my crush as a twenty-year-old. When One Direction first took over the world, I bought blazers because he wore them and I picked up things he said in interviews and tried to use them in daily conversation. Six or seven years later and I’ve grown as he’s grown, and when I see him in April, we’ll both be different than we were when I saw him in 2012 and different even than when I saw him in October. Rostam was an integral part of Vampire Weekend, and I am so interested to see how he’s flourished on his own, just as I’ve learned to flourish on my own. The Vaccines have defined me since I was fifteen. They’ve been next to me during all the high highs and all the low lows. They’ve been there for the awkward in between parts and the figuring it out and the making it up as I go. When I’m standing in Alexandra Palace five months from now, I’ll probably be feeling the same things, and they’ll still be there. And, quite frankly, that feels magical.
I don’t one hundred percent know where I’m trying to go with this post. I guess as I’m about to leave Toronto and move to Leeds, I feel like I’m getting somewhere. I’ve spent years wishing for something big to happen, and now that big thing is happening. I’ve also spent years dying to see all these bands, and they’re coming back to life just as I’m entering the most exciting time I’ve ever felt. It feels good to have them right beside me, like all of us are reinventing ourselves at the same time and trying to see where life will go next. We’re all making art and sharing it with the people who will listen and supporting the people around us who are doing the same thing. It doesn’t matter that all of them will be on a stage and I’ll be in the crowd. It matters that I feel a magnetic pull to every single one of them, and they’ve all marked important moments in my life and will continue to be there as life keeps getting better.
All these musicians have been with me at pivotal moments in my life. Often they were the catalysts for those moments, the ones who made me strive for better or pick myself up or gave me the courage to freaking go for it. I haven’t even left for my semester abroad yet, and I already feel like it’s the best thing I’ve done, the climax of the believing in myself and the working hard and the chasing of my crazy dreams. I’m glad all my favourite bands get to be part of it in a physical way. I think it would feel wrong if they weren’t.
I’m seeing Wolf Alice tomorrow. They’ve had a permanent place in my heart for a long time, and they played in Toronto a couple years ago around this time, but I was too young to go. I get to step into the Danforth tomorrow, Charlotte by my side, and waltz up to the stage that Ellie and Joel and Theo and Joff will stand on. Compared to who I was two years ago, I’m unrecognizable. The people who are around me are different, the way I think about myself is different, my mindset is different, and my goals are different. But I like that my favourite songs are still the same, and I’m so happy that I get to sing some of them with Wolf Alice tomorrow night. Change is inevitable, but it’s the best feeling to be able to hang onto something that reminds you of how connected everything is.
I’m going to leave you with Wolf Alice’s “Don’t Delete the Kisses.” It’s about romantic love, but it also kind of celebrates loving something so much that it makes you feel on top of the world, and that’s how these artists make me feel. (Also, the music video might just rip your heart out.)