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Archive for February, 2012

What Death Does to Fans

“What were you doing when (insert important rock musician here) died?” Is a familiar question. Everybody likes to ask it, and everybody likes to answer it. It’s always fun to talk about sadness, especially in retrospect. Can you imagine what it must have felt like to be in Central Park the night John Lennon died? Everyone crying in unison, singing “Strawberry Fields Forever” for hours on end, wouldn’t that have been fun? That kind of grand scale, forlorn adoration for a fallen hero is similar in action to when Kobe hits a game-winning jumper at home—EVERYONE cheers, except in Lennon’s case, everyone cried.  Sometimes it’s nice to experience sadness with others, for a change.

Whenever a musician dies, their fans almost always crave that kind of company. Taken prisoner by their sadness—or at least wanting to be—they are always in search of cellmates. The kind of people whom they see eye-to-eye with, the kind of person that says, “Yes, Saves the Day was the only thing that made sense to me when I was 14, too,” for example.

As we all know, there are varying degrees of fan hood; however, there’s really only one degree of sadness, so some overcompensate. If Chris Conley gets killed in a figurative plane crash, these overcompensators will also say out loud that his band was the only thing that made sense to them when they were 14, but it wasn’t. The overcompensation comes when people update their Facebook Statuses and Tweet their own eulogies and talk about what this means in the 21st century. When, in fact, the other guys, those guys that see eye-to-eye, are sitting at home spinning what they once thought to be the true voice of reason in the wretched world of adolescence—and maybe they still do. The latter is what every music fan secretly wants, their own personal December 8th. It’s hard to obtain, because you actually have to love the musician in question. Why do they want it? That’s easy, so that one day when someone asks, they can tell them in full detail about the night their favorite noise-rock guitarist died.

Which (finally) brings me to my point. Yesterday, Christopher Reimer, guitarist for the Canadian band Women, passed away in his sleep. This is shocking really, mainly because he was only 26 and the cause of his death is still unknown. The band’s relative obscurity didn’t seem to bother them—they put out two well-regarded guitar albums and played noisy 200 capacity shows all over North America for the better part of four years. What did bother Women, though, was Women. It seems they all hated each other, and one can kind of detect this in their music.

Numerous stories have been made of the bands well documented distaste for one another, including an on stage fist fight in Canada in 2010 that prompted an indefinite hiatus. However, after last night, it’s possible that Women is forever finished, as Reimer was purportedly an integral part, possibly be the most. I say purportedly because, with noise-rock it’s always hard to tell who is doing what, and, as an extension, what bands are important. Personally, I don’t think any band who bases their entire catalogue off ten seconds of a Sonic Youth tune can be considered ‘important’—that means you too, post-rock bands. I have been watching enough Youtube videos this morning to understand that Women’s music didn’t require as much talent as it required a sort of focused intensity, a fiery dissonance that obviously required a lot of rehearsal, and conceivably was just too hot to handle for the members of Women.

The band’s songs are rife with interplayed reverb-guitars, tension between the muddy drums and indiscernible vocals. Think early Pavement trying to cover “Marquee Moon.” That off-kilter crud is attractive to some. So it’s no doubt there are a lot of people mourning the mysterious death of the band’s fallen guitar god, this is obviously a testament to their fan hood, and I’ve already seen numerous Facebook posts about how chilling the passing of this young guitarist truly is. What I don’t know about though, are the thousands of die-hards, who haven’t taken to the ‘net to publish their blood-curdling eulogies, rather, spent their night soaking their cheeks to the distorted sound of four guys-turned-enemies duke it out with soaking reverb and insufficient drum sounds.

And then there are people like me, who never enjoyed the man’s music, had to look up his name when he died, but still are moved by his unexpected passing because it reminds them that their favorite living musicians can die at anytime. Maybe I’m just jealous though, because I haven’t had my December 8th yet. And last night, a lot of people who saw eye-to-eye on a now defunct band from Calgary did.

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