I feel like I haven’t stopped moving since I got back to Birmingham. The mantra leading up to the show seems to have been “is this really happening?” The mantra after has clearly been “did this really happen?” Even as I write this, I find myself multitasking. I have to take a breath here so I can wrap my head around the whole thing.
I guess it happened. I’ve seen video evidence. But even watching it, it’s feels so distant and I barely even recognize myself.
So, for the uninitiated, let me back up a little bit. PopCanon was a band I was in just after college in the mid to late 1990s, when I was living in Gainesville, FL. The band recorded four CDs, toured the East Coast, and played hundreds of shows. It was the most ambitious and the most successful of any project I’ve been a part of (so far). We played our last show in April 2001. We played a reunion show a year after that. We haven’t played together since, until last weekend, the result of a Facebook comment thread that basically got out of hand.
Squeaky was/is the band we were most closely associated with. The two bands played dozens, perhaps more than a hundred, shows together. Squeaky was a straight up rocking and aggressive as PopCanon was goofy and bouncy, but we shared a love of dissonant guitar chords and nerdy references. The two bands were always so closely intertwined, you couldn’t separate us. Seeing Squeaky reformed (even with a new extra band member) would have been reason enough for me to drive to Florida for a weekend. They are my favorite band, still.
So… the weekend. Thursday night, basically all day Friday, and Saturday morning, we rehearsed. Everything more or less meshed right away, not just the music, but being around each other again. The energy of those six personalities bouncing off each other refused to dissipate. Right away, we started doing what we always do–making things more complicated, coming up with more ambitious arrangements and plans, and adding songs to the set list (which we continued to do right up to the moment we took the stage Saturday night).
Every PopCanon song is like a six-way tennis match where we are all trying to outwit each other and challenging the other ones to keep up, and somehow that works. It’s a game we play with each other, and it doesn’t matter if anybody is watching or listening. On Saturday, a hundred or so people came out to see this happen. It was a modest crowd by some measures, but honestly, it was probably about the same as we would have drawn ten years ago at one of our better shows. We would have done the same show whether anybody was there or not.
Being there again… It was truly like we’d never left it. To see Squeaky again, to play with PopCanon again, to talk to our friends and fans after ten years away. Pure joy. The purest.
We’ve all said it. If it was feasible, we would do it again next week. If we didn’t live in six cities, spread across 2,000 miles, if we didn’t have families and non-music careers to which we must attend, we’d buy another bordello red van and drive it around the country again. The musicians I worked with in PopCanon are the best I’ve ever worked with. It is my privilege just to be associated with them.