I wrote this as the opener to my review of the incredible day that was Field Trip Festival, but it became too long to include with the review, so I’m sharing this first.
Ohh Field Trip. Where do I even begin.
My love for Arts & Crafts is no secret. I have never been shy about being a huge Broken Social Scene fangirl, despite the douchey backlash that can sometimes be present in admitting such a thing. Their perceived over-saturation in this city has made it sometimes ‘uncool’ to admit you still think they fucking rule – but I will never, ever be ‘over’ BSS. They will always be the band that, along with Elliott Smith, began my path into this indie rock world that has served me so well.
Anthem For A 17 Year Old Girl
I moved to Toronto from Welland in the fall of 2003 to attend York University. Fresh out of high school, all my friends stayed behind for what was once called OAC, but renamed ‘Grade 12B’ for those not yet ready to decide what they wanted next. My entire high school existence, I couldn’t wait to move to Toronto. It was the promised land, where all the art and film and music and culture I could ever need would be right at my fingertips - freedom, finally - I thought. So, no Grade 12B for me.
I spent that fall new to Toronto, completely on my own, stuck in a tiny room with a roommate I couldn’t relate to even a little bit, at a new school that happened to be GIGANTIC and far away from the part of the city that I had been so excited to live in. It was a shock to my system, and I secretly regretted rushing to get away from my little hometown where I had a great group of friends I loved, and life was easy.
Stars and Sons
Looking at photos of that time, I had posters of The Doors, Bob Dylan, The Beatles and Led Zeppelin plastered all over my walls. I was heavy into classic rock as a way to connect with my dad, and beyond loving The Strokes and Radiohead I didn’t care much for modern music. Before I discovered the glory of the 60s and 70s in high school, I was obsessed with the Backstreet Boys and all things embarrassing boy band/manufactured pop. To say I was afraid of the current state of music wouldn’t be out of line.
But two things happened around October that introduced me to an entirely new world of music that would become a way of life for me. Elliott Smith’s death propelled his music back into my life, and my friends back in Welland, who were mostly way more open to modern music than me, sent me mp3s to this new album, You Forgot It In People, telling me I had to listen to it – and that it was actually by a TORONTO band. What? Toronto has bands that make good music?? Fine, I trusted them, so I gave it a listen. “Cause = Time” immediately captivated me, and like most girls that age, I was sure they had wrote “Anthems for a 17 Year Old Girl” just for me, but the album as a whole didn’t quite pull me in.
But, then I saw them live, and I’ve already wrote about how that changed the game for me. They immediately became my litmus test for anyone entering my life – don’t like BSS? LET ME TAKE YOU TO A SHOW! I’LL CHANGE YOUR MIND! Still don’t like BSS? GTFO because you might be lacking a soul, or, at the very least, you might have a hard time connecting with mine.
Every happy, sad, or mundane life event I’ve experienced since that night has been coloured by their music in some little way. For the past almost 10 years, anytime I want to clear my head, I go for a walk around the city and listen to Feel Good Lost, or any of their other beautiful records, and I couldn’t be any happier or more inspired. They are almost always my cure for writers block, depression, heartbreak and frustration. I can’t name how many hours of my life have been spent dancing like a lunatic to “Major Label Debut (Fast)” or “Superconnected,” or “Ibi Dreams of Pavement,” when I just want to feel pure joy.
Most days I think they actually cracked into my brain to write “It’s All Gonna Break” because it feels like my story – but then I remember that I probably never would have took my e-pen to e-paper and passed those who (figuratively!) fucked me in the ass when I was a kid, had I never heard that song and felt like it was telling me to wake the fuck up and stop wasting time dreaming of some other life in some other place. To stop fucking ghosts of the past and get it together.
The lovely music did save my life.
Cause = Time
I know that my life would probably look a lot different right now were it not for this band and label. I’m not sure I ever would have embraced the city the way I have, had they not helped carve it into such an incredible music city by starting Arts & Crafts and supporting the careers of so many huge talents. If Elliott’s music was the reason I wanted to leave, theirs was the reason I never did.
For many of those University years, I felt completely lost in Toronto, constantly thinking up ways to move to Portland or Austin or Brooklyn, where I thought I’d be more likely to find people like me.
But as Arts & Crafts began to grow, my love for the city grew with it. I stopped feeling that urge to run away, and started finding my own place (and voice) within it.
So thank you to Jeffrey and Kevin, for helping me and countless others to feel good lost in Toronto.