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On Meeting Your Idols
By Fay Funk
The year was 2008, and my band, The Vegaleague, was doing very well. While far from performing on a professional level, we were practicing often and playing shows about once a week, and had some very nice poppy songs written. We were remarkably put together for three teenage girls managing their own band, that organization and drive got us out into the musical world, and we met a lot of interesting people, including one famous person: Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth.
While at a showcase for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Camp for Girls, the feminist music program where we all met, our guitar player Janie started talking to a woman about our band. It turned out the woman worked for Converse shoes, a company that had a few years earlier merged with Nike, which is based in Beaverton, Oregon. She was organizing an industry party in town and offered us a spot as the opening band for the night. We would be opening for Thurston Moore.
We did not say yes right away. The party was on a Wednesday night and we all had school the next day. That’s just about the silliest reason out there for not opening a show for a highly influential musician, but we were very academically minded. There was a period in my life when Sonic Youth was the only band I would listen to, and they had a massive impact on me, so we decided to stick it out and play the show, even though it was on a school night. Plus the organizers paid us $200.
When we arrived at the Wonder Ballroom to load in our gear, Thurston Moore and his band were sound-checking. As we were stacking our things by the side of the stage, he turned to us and asked, “Do you guys need to borrow any of our gear?” We said no, we had everything we needed, though in retrospect we probably should have taken him up on his offer. Thurston Moore undoubtedly had higher quality equipment than anyone in my band. It was a surprisingly normal interaction we had with a very influential person. It felt very weird.
My band did our sound-check and the venue started filling up. We lost track of Thurston Moore but knew he was still around, probably backstage. Then it was time for our set. Playing for such a large crowd, especially one with a famous rock star in it, made us excited and jittery. Would Thurston Moore like us? Maybe if he did, something big would happen for us. We would go on tour, and become rock stars ourselves. All the grand fantasies I had never allowed myself to indulge seemed to be coming true.
Our performance was finished, and it went very well. It was time to load out. As we were taking our stuff out the back door to the parking lot, a dirty old van pulled up. Out of it came Thurston Moore and his band, smelling of weed and burritos. He hadn’t seen us play. Not even one song. It was mildly heartbreaking.
Looking back I can see that we couldn’t really have expected him to stay and watch, though that doesn’t make it any less disappointing. Thurston Moore has been making music for a long time, and has seen a million bands play, all hoping for the same thing: a big break. He almost certainly does not have the energy to give each and everyone of them the glowing praise they so desire. He deserves the chance to just sit in his van smoking weed and eating burritos. And he was very nice to my band while getting ready to play himself. He signed autographs for us, even as some jerk who worked for him told us to leave him alone. “C’mon, Thurston is very busy, and you girls know better than anyone what it’s like to be in his position,” he said with a condescending smile. Thurston definitely knows what it was like to be like me, which is why he took the time to sign an autograph, but I sure as hell don’t know what it’s like to be him.
Some times I wonder if opening for Thurston Moore is going to be the high point of my musical career. The answer is yes, probably. I don’t have the desire to pursue an actual career as a musician, though entertaining those fantasies is always fun, especially that night. I still have the autograph he signed mixed in somewhere with my collection of concert tickets and old fliers, written in silver pen on the back of one of The Vegaleague’s set lists. The $200 we were paid for playing that show gave my band enough money to record our songs in a studio with a friend of ours. So in a way, even though he never watched our band perform, Thurston Moore did help my band in advancing our musical careers.
#Music #Band #TheVegaleague #ThurstonMoore #SonicYouth #RockNRollCampForGirls