[cracks knuckles] OK, it’s been a hot minute since I wrote one of these blog things, so let’s see if I can remember how to do this. Band I feel strongly about? Check? Experience with that band I can’t not share with the whole damn Internet? Check. Picture to put at the top/song to put at the bottom? Check and check.
Let’s do this thing.
Landlady! Remember them? I wrote glowingly of their 2014 album Upright Behavior just before going on baby break. My feelings have only grown since. We shared a Twitter exchange about Spotify’s inadequate payout system, I ordered and received a special Coke-bottle-green pressing of Upright Behavior from Bandcamp, I got to see them perform last Friday night as part of the second-annual Fall Line Fest… it’s been a torrid affair — rewarding in ways I couldn’t have guessed it would be.
Mrs. YHT and I have been fairly bunkered-in lately, which shouldn’t come as a surprise to those of you who have kids and remember what that first month was like. In some ways, it’s felt like a month-long snow day — you huddle close, maybe start a new series on Netflix (we’ve knocked out more than three seasons of Friday Night Lights) and the most contact you have with the outside world some days is noticing the temperature of the air that rushes in when you open the back door to throw a can in the recycling. Much more of the outside world rushed in when I went back to work, but the snow day resumes every evening when I get home. It’s just as magical as an actual snow day, just replace the sense of spontaneous freedom with its polar opposite — a sense of responsibility you’ve spent months joynervously preparing to shoulder.
I love our little bunker, and I love that music has a physical presence in it. It’d be a stretch to lump my collecting vinyl for the last half dozen years into the nesting process, but those records are a non-minor part of the world Mrs. YHT and I prepared for our daughter, and that thought makes me very happy. I’ve gotten a huge kick out of choosing which records to play for Baby YHT. I waited until we got home from the hospital to open the copy of Lullaby Renditions of David Bowie I got last Record Store Day and made that the first record my daughter heard. She’s heard dozens since, and while I haven’t picked up on any nascent preferences, watching her facial reactions and knowing that every song she hears she’s hearing for the first time — I can’t even put it into words. I could do it all day every day and never get bored. (She might though — that kid’s attention span needs work.)
As amazing as the bunkered life has been, venturing out for Friday of Fall Line Fest was a real treat.
I had a relatively short itinerary — Landlady and Matthew E. White at the Sara Belle and Neil November Theatre, then Ki Theory at the Broadberry — but it was my first live music since Baby YHT’s arrival, so the experience had an added potency, not unlike Mrs. YHT’s first post-baby beer (she made it through half a Legend Brown before cutting herself off). I actually brought a piece of home with me — the copy of Upright Behavior I ordered from Bandcamp, tucked safely inside the cardboard packaging it was mailed to me in — and ran around after Landlady’s magnificent set with a Sharpie getting each member of the band to sign the inner sleeve. I also picked up a vinyl copy of Landlady’s first release, Keeping to Yourself. The ink from those signatures and that copy of Keeping to Yourself are now back in the bunker, ready to be shared with my daughter, whenever she starts taking an interest in music or wants to know what life was like just after she was born.
When I got Landlady frontman Adam Schatz to sign my record, I asked him if he ran the band’s Twitter account, and when he said he did, I asked if he remembered our Spotify exchange. I think I wanted him to know that I was real, and that people really do still buy the music they’re passionate about. But it’s not just about money. The whole night was proof that there are things about the physical world — watching Schatz hit notes so precisely and emphatically, shaking the hand of musicians you admire, having a record that can be signed, brought home and shown off to the people you love — that can’t be experienced via a phone or a computer. I hope he got something out of that interaction, because I definitely did.
[Quick addendum for Richmond folks — Landlady is coming back to town on October 14 to play Strange Matter! With No BS! Hot damn! Get tix here.]
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