March 22, 2012 was one of the most amazing days of my life, even if I don’t actually remember a portion of it.
That’s the day I flew from Cape Breton to Toronto, where I was greeted at the airport by my friend Ben, and we rushed to the Sound Academy for the first I Mother Earth show in eight years, the first that I had seen in 12 years. It was my 14th IME show.
When we got to the venue with only a little bit of time to spare before IME went on, Ben and I met up in the crowd with some of our awesome friends (the text I got from Holly advised me to bite and scratch my way through the crowd to get there), including Danielle who noticed that my hands were shaking.
Then came that goddamn five-minute countdown clock. I was experiencing this weird combination of dehydration, adrenaline, anticipation, the aftereffects from stress over my delayed flights, and excitement. Finally, the clock hit zero and we heard the opening notes to The Mothers.
I managed to stay at our spot pretty close to the stage for about five songs, but I increasingly didn’t feel well. I finally had to tell Danielle and Holly that I had to go sit down somewhere. I walked to the bar, ordered two bottles of water and had to physically hang on to the side of the bar so I didn’t collapse into a heap on the floor.
When I no longer felt like I was on the verge of passing out or vomiting, I made my way to the back of the venue where there was a ledge thing that I could sit on. After a little while I was able to go back into the crowd and actually pay attention to the show.
I was extremely pissed at myself for ruining the experience of seeing my favourite band back onstage together, something I had never expected to happen. At least I had a repeat performance the next night to make up for it. And it did.
Since then, I’ve flown to Newfoundland, driven to Moncton, flown to Vancouver and Oakville to see four more shows. Six in a year. After a 12-year drought. I’ve now seen 20 shows, in total. A lot of people have seen many more shows than I have, although I may be close to the title for miles logged. In addition to seeing some amazing performances, I was able to meet in person people I’ve known online for about 15 years. I made new friends. I was able to see again friends that I first met in person during my original IME trip to Ontario in 1997, when he who shall not be named was leaving the band. I’ve had people show me tremendous hospitality. All because we met through a band’s message board.
There’s a great sense of community among a lot of the people who were a part of the message board. My role as a moderator there was, admittedly, to serve as the old cranky, bitchy aunt who every once in awhile walks outside on the porch, shakes her cane in the air, yelling, “You kids, get off of my lawn. And pull up those pants. And keep it down, I’m watching my stories.”
I may be becoming a sap in my advancing years, but I wanted to, initially, take the anniversary of the reonion to thank the band for returning to live performance — and I can truthfully describe the March 23 Toronto, Nov. 3 Vancouver and Feb. 22 Oakville shows in particular as having been epic and among my favourite live experiences ever. And I also want to thank them for not being a band that just phones it in by coming out, blowing some dust off a few old songs to make a quick buck, but for really working at reimagining how they do things and playing their asses off. In Oakville, they fucking played for three hours and 20 minutes and have plans for even longer shows. And Bruce for putting in the time he has when he now lives in another country and has a lot on his plate. And Chuck for pitching in when Bruce isn’t available. And Jag for being so gracious in answering a music nerd’s questions. And Brian, Christian, Daniel and Fatty for some seriously ass-kicking performances.
I’m still hoping that I may be able to get to the upcoming ‘long evening’ shows in London and St. Catharine’s. I have tickets and I’ve got the time off work but this really may be pushing things. I went to Oakville with the mindset it would be the last one for a long time — until they hopefully come east again — and it was such a great experience that I’m OK with that. Or so I like to tell myself.
But, beyond that, I also want to thank all the people I’ve gotten to spend time with over the past year. Friends who picked me up at the airport; who kicked their pre-teen daughter out of her bedroom so I’d have a place to crash; with whom I used to go to IME shows back in the day; who put me up in Toronto; with whom I reminisced; with whom I shit-talked about people from the old days; with whom I shared stories; who got up at 6 a.m. on a cold February day to get a bus into Toronto to have lunch with me. You guys are the best. And to think, we only ever got to know each other because we dig the same band.