Music. I wasn’t into it growing up. My interests lay more with books, movies and video games, or making my own books, movies and video games. A meager allowance was much better spent on these things rather than some fancy sounds.
As a missionary kid in Thailand, I was pretty isolated living out among rice paddies in a house on stilts. But when I had the chance to mingle with other English-speaking peers I would hear names: Linkin Park, The Backstreet Boys, Flyleaf, Paramore. They meant nothing to me. I felt left out.
I remember telling my dad, “I need to get into music.” He was surprised and immediately offered suggestions: Reliant K, Mercy Me, U2. I loaded these bands onto my bizarre camera/mp3 player and started listening. The music was enjoyable. It passed the time on long car trips. But this music didn’t move me like a novel or a film. It simply became a topic for conversation.
My uncle back in the States heard that I had developed an interest in filmmaking. He emailed my parents a video that he thought I’d appreciate. It was a BMX trick compilation. The cinematography was pretty and my parents marveled at the athlete’s skills. But I wasn’t watching. I was listening, intensely. Because a few minutes in, a song began to play. The first few notes tore my eyes away from the visuals and hijacked all my attention.
I couldn’t understand why the song was so arresting. It was a transcendent moment. I’d experienced similar moments with my other hobbies, whether it be a passage in a book, a scene in a movie or a poignant instant in a video game. Music had never moved me in that way, until now. I was changed.
The song was performed by an Australian band called The Jezabels. Their EP was the first album I ever bought. My interest in this one band grew and fueled further exploration. Phoenix, The Glitch Mob, Miike Snow, Of Monsters And Men, Tegan and Sara, mewithoutYou. I loved each new sonic discovery I made.
In 2012, I spent my fall semester in Los Angeles. I had never been to a concert. One night, my roommates were discussing shows they wanted to see. It struck me that I should seize this opportunity to see live music before returning to college in barren West Texas. I searched online for shows that were playing. None grabbed my interest. I didn’t know most of the bands or the events were too expensive.
As a joke with myself, I checked my favorite Australian band’s website. The odds of them playing in LA while I happened to be in town were laughable. What popped onto my screen silenced my private chuckle.
The Troubadour, LA — Tuesday Oct. 2nd
I didn’t know what to expect that night. Not the raw sound of a live performance. Not the sensation of each note blasting through my being. I was completely immersed in the moment. That night, music finally carved out a place in my heart. I only spent $20, and gained a priceless experience I will never have again.