I love things to death.
A new incredible song played 1000 times, singularly, exclusively, until I can't listen to it anymore.
Those brownies at Urban Cacao with the buttercream center.
Every episode of "The Thick of It" watched and re-watched searching for previously-missed lines.
The Birdcage and Annie Hall.
I've been in the U.S. for a week on something of a personal reunion tour. It started in Chicago catching up with old friends from high school, the eponymous Mike and Randy. Continued to Northwest Indiana visiting my aunt, grandmother, and cousins. Reunited with our sister-friend Sonali in Bloomington. Next was a stopover with my "aunt" Sue who is my paternal first cousin, once removed (had to look that up) and who has also been my mother's best friend her entire adult life. We spent our last night with Husband's family, Rik, Jennifer, and Timmy the Dachshund before catching a flight back to the Dammed of the Amstel.
Near the end of this week, we also made a visit back in time.
I'd started hearing about Situation Grey a few months before my 21st birthday and I was desperate to see them. My birthday fell on a Thursday (also had to look that up). They were playing at the Bluebird. I went to see them with my roommate whom I had never met until the day we became roommates. There are a handful of moments that have acutely changed the direction, started new chapters, in my life. This is one of them and one of the first. Every aspect of my personality intensified after this night. As I am not a spectacular human being, this was not good. But for quite a few years, it was so much fun. The most fun.
This cover band from a Midwestern college town mattered. Music in the early '90s was exploding. It was the era of college rock, Madchester, mainstream industrial, rave culture. To see all of this live was just a roadtrip too far out of reach from Bloomington, Indiana. Bloomington is close to everything but the center of nothing. It was almost so many things.
For us, Situation Grey changed that. Situation Grey was the center around which my entire scene revolved. I shared that scene in an immediate circle of dozens and an extended circle of thousands.
It also created an equal and opposite reaction. There were those who loved Situation Grey, those who hated them, and everyone, including the band, understood why. There was always an apologist hue cast upon the success of the mighty Grey (such as they are, thank you Albert). Situation Grey was blamed for perpetuating the almost. The band were the Ralph Nader vote splitting culprit that kept people away from the original-music scene in Bloomington.
I realize how easily that scenario segues into a classic marketing argument: the music scene in Bloomington was consumer-driven. Situation Grey were very, very good at what they did: redelivering the live music experience from bands that most of their audience would never at that time get the chance to see live. But was the original-music scene organic kale? Was Situation Grey junk food?
I would argue no. They performed great music expertly. I know for a fact they ticked up local record sales for the bands they covered. And they made people happy. I was more than happy. I was addicted, but that's on me--that doesn't make Situation Grey the Doritos of '90s-era Bloomington. I would sell CDs (of the bands that Situation Grey would cover). Dig loose change out of the couch. Skip out on rent to go follow them around. I was so obsessed with the original bassist that my friends could no longer tolerate me. To this day, my friends still can barely tolerate me, and I have been preoccupied with the bassist in all various forms, for better and for worse (and really, so much of both, so, so much) for almost 25 years.
I loved Situation Grey to death. Over time, my relationship with the band morphed from an obsession into my boyfriend's job that took him out of town 3-4 nights most weeks. He was the audio engineer during the wonderful "Tina" years. Throughout the years he was with the band, we never went on vacation together. Never even a weekend away. I never resented it. It never even occurred to me there was another way to live. Looking back on it now, I realize I depended on the band exclusively for all my best experiences and when repetition of that lifestyle wore me out, I got angry. I'm sorry for that. I was so stupid and myopic. Situation Grey became an entity rather than people I knew for a long time that were making a living on a legacy that probably lasted longer than it should have. This is the first, but not the last instance I can talk of in the same manner.
There is no word better, which is why it was heard and repeated often, than "surreal," to describe the Situation Grey reunion show which happened 4 days ago at the Vogue in Indianapolis. It's dangerous to step so far back into your past. I was apprehensive because I don't like the person I was back then. I don't like how that chapter in my life closed, and I don't understand why it took me so damn long to learn the things I have learned about friendship, love, honesty, communication, and loyalty. Actually, I'm not sure I would have ever learned the lessons I cherish most if I had never moved to Amsterdam, but that's a digression well covered in previous posts. I've learned the basics of what is important in a meaningful life so late. But hopefully not too late.
The happiness I felt that night seeing everyone, hearing the band sound as amazing as ever, was completely present and totally real. And that is something I confess without apology, without cynicism, and with deep, deep gratitude. This reunion can only conclude with these existential sentiments because being a fan Situation Grey, a cover band from the Midwest, was undeniably formative.
Whatever dormant uncertainty regarding that time in life...old wounds were not opened. They were healed.
Thank you so much, Tina, Chris, Mark, Brian, and Michael. I love you all and in whatever form, I hope that this event is not the end but a beginning in any incarnation, even if it ends up just being the best possible memory. I think all who came to see you that night didn't want it to end. I felt like we should have gotten a massive group photo of all the fans and the band together--a memento of everyone who said "yes" to this occasion.
Who knows, maybe there is something more lasting in store. This night was enough, but I would take more. Give more.
I am so grateful to you all and proud to know you. I hope to see you should you ever find yourselves on this side of the pond. Well, for Michael, I guess that goes without saying, but in his case, the side of the pond I'm referring to is the one in front of our house next to the lawn he needs to mow. But for the rest of you, please know you always have a home base with us. For such a long time, and then once again, you were the only place I wanted to be.