We had a Greatest Show Ever discussion several times over New Year’s weekend. What was the best show we had been to together? In the last year? In the prior year? Second-best show…
All of this stemming from the exuberance MMJ felt, and was still feeling several days later, seeing Morrissey live at the Nob Hill Masonic on the 29th of December. I get it. This was her Joe Strummer. These were the tickets she bought before knowing how to buy them, the show she planned her Mexico trip around. This was Morrissey, and in the ninety minutes waiting for him to take the stage, framed in a teenage love affair with The Smiths, I learned more about her formative years than I had in the last two years put together.
On a personal level, it was wonderful to be with her while she bubbled with enthusiasm. We got there as early as we could, and pressed as closely to the front of the stage (always downstage right) as we could. And despite the godawful hour-long stream of video clips projected onto a curtain, supplanting an actual opening band, her excitement never wavered. That experience in itself was worth everything.
But beyond that, and despite never really appreciating the music of The Smiths until much later in life, being at that show certainly felt like a bucket-list musical moment. And to complete the checkbox, I bought us two tickets to see Johnny Marr at The Independent just as soon as they went on sale.
A few days later we were in the car heading for Monterey. That’s when the best show discussion began. I knew she was still basking in the glow of seeing Morrissey, and I worked hard to convince her that I was impressed as well (despite my hesitance to give it show-of-the-year status). And that gave way to my current feelings on musical festivals: feeling too old, too much about the scene and being seen, more hype than substance, general shitshows… The last time we were in Monterey was for the First City Festival, which was actually a wonderful experience.
This year, within minutes of checking in to our hotel, MMJ had gone exploring and came back with badges for Monterey’s First Night festival – a NYE celebration that took place all over the downtown area, in the streets and in various venues scattered over several city blocks. It was rejuvenating in more ways than one. Not only did I ring in the new year with a restored view on love, relationships, and the general upward trajectory of my life; but I also remembered what it was like to discover music, while listening to bands for whom music was still personal and not a statement. “We have CD’s for sale in the lobby.” I think we bought three. And I don’t even own a CD player anymore.