Day 56: The Day Incubus Punched Me In The Face

Metaphorically. (I feel I should preface this post with an apology to Incubus for besmirching their good name for my own literary purposes.) This could have been Soundwave Festival Scouting Report – Vol. 5 (or alternately, the title for a pretty harrowing news story about the weekend…) but today’s exercise in due diligence has turned into something completely different and unexpected.

I don’t know if this is just a “Stace you think way too much about music” thing or whether this applies to other people too (help me out here folks) but I feel like I go through things in life, and it could be good or bad things, but just generally moments that are meaningful to me in some way, and there is always music attached to it. Sometimes it’s circumstantial, simply the music that I happen to be hearing at the time. And other times it’s a conscious harnessing of a particular tone or theme or set of lyrics that speak to my feelings or my state of mind. Sometimes it’s music I was heretofore unfamiliar with whose discovery becomes inexorably linked to current events.

Then there are times when the right soundtrack just walks right up to you and punches you square in the face. Not so much to knock you out, it’s more of a sock to the jaw that rattles you to the bone. The kind of jab that leaves a mark, that breaks the skin and makes you bleed a little. The kind that stings. Today, I was minding my own business cleaning the kitchen. Whenever I’m living the #marthalyf I always do it to music, and with Soundwave three days away (~!!!) and Incubus being a big part of my weekend plans, I decided to familiarise myself with their post-Make Yourself body of work. And these bastards just walked straight into my kitchen and jobbed me right in the mouth.

It was like an old Batman episode going on right here between my ears today…

“Love hurts / But sometimes it’s a good hurt / And it feels like I’m alive” WHAM!

“Love sings / when it transcends the bad things / Have a heart and try me / ’cause without love I won’t survive” KAPOW!

“I picture your face in the back of my eyes / A fire in the attic a proof of the prize” BIFF!

“How do you it? Make me feel like I do / How do you do it? It’s better than I ever knew /
You are stellar / You are stellar” SMACK!

“To know that you feel the same, as I do, is a Three-fold utopian dream /
You do something to me that I can’t explain / So would I be out of line if I said I miss you” WHOMP!

I cannot put into words how this all makes me feel. Or rather, how accurately it reflects how I feel.

For many weeks now, maybe a couple of months, I’ve been existing in this weird post-emotional state. Going from what was the most mind-blowing, emotionally heightened period of my life…the most intensely felt period of my life…going from that to this has been like going from being on heroin, to being on Prozac. I am, if I can be permitted to say, quite a sensitive soul. I am used to feeling things. Having experienced the insane delirium of feeling basically all possible feelings all at once, going back to ordinary, common or garden life has been…well, an adjustment. Not an unhappy one. I think above all I’m just acutely aware of how relatively dull my feelings are now, compared to While It Was Happening. I am post-emotional.

Up until now i hadn’t been listening to any music that spoke to that feeling. I have plenty of emotional music. I have sad music. I have heartbreak music. I have Taylor Swift. I’d be all set except that I am not feeling particularly emotional. Or sad, or heartbroken, or Tay Tay for that matter. I don’t want to curl up into a ball and listen to T-Swizz. I want to move on and hold my head up. I also want to acknowledge and appreciate a significant period of my life. I feel okay. A little wistful maybe, and clearly very emotionally exhausted. But I’m okay.

That’s what this sounds like. Not just the lyrics but also the music, the tone, the light, airy, so-very-Californian vibe that these guys have always had. It’s not sad music. It may not even be happy music. But it’s light, not heavy. Bright, not dark. It’s free, and it’s proud. It’s music to hold your head up and move on with your life to. It has a knowing-ness about it, a sense of having lived, of being older and wiser, and that is definitely a sense that I can get behind; The Year Of Something New is all about knowing.

24 hours ago I was kind of ambivalent about seeing Incubus on Saturday. Not to sound clichéd but my favourite Incubus stuff is their early work – S.C.I.E.N.C.E. and Make Yourself, when they were young and hardcore and nu-metal, before they settled down into being a stadium rock band. That stuff is more than 16 years old, and I doubt it will make up a lot of their set. I was going to see them mainly to tick them off my list and maybe hear an old song or two. Now? Lord. Now I can’t wait to see them. Now it’s so much more than checklist-ticking or just seeing a good band. Now it feels like I’ll be able to hear my mood, this strange, unfamiliar mood that I’m in, hear it being played out right in front of me for me to hear. By the only guys who get how I feel right now. Good ol’ Incubus. Now I simply can’t wait to see them. In three days’ time I have a very important date: 6:00pm Saturday, I’ll be getting punched square in the face.

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