One of my favourite artists of all time is a US indie singer named Bob Mould (that’s his real name). He was the guitarist/singer for a popular independent band in the 1980s called Husker Du. Then went on to do a solo career.
Mainly marked by depressing, broody and introspective lyrics (and his trade mark yelling).
Why am I telling you this? Not so you’d rush out to listen to his music. More a story of past glory.
I am telling you this because this memory of Bob and I came to me this morning. When I was growing up I was obsessed with some artists. Bob Mould was one for me. Being in Australia, in my bedroom listening to Bob Mould, knowing that I was on the other side of the world and very unlikely to tour, my chance arrived overseas.
In Vancouver, Canada, I got my chance to meet my hero. Just after I finished university, I decided to go on a working holiday (can you imagine that now, cringe).
My choices were basically the UK or Canada. Because I thought the UK already had lots of Aussies there, Canada would be the place to go.
I knew so very little about Canada at the time. Imagine that. So, as a baby, around 20 years old, I packed up my bags and took off for some adventure.
While I look back and wonder what on earth I was thinking - it’s funny how naive you can be. While settling in to Canada is a whole other story, I did get a chance to see Bob Mould. At the SXSW festival, I saw on the bill Bob Mould was playing a show, and doing an interview the day after. (I feel so naive recollecting this).
So I found a friend, actually there was a really lovely girl that I was going to have a first date with. So I suggested going to see Bob Mould in concert with me. Sure, let’s go to Bob Mould together - you don’t know any of the songs, or have heard of him before - you’re going to love it!
Instead of buying a ticket (yes, I was going to make her buy her own, lol), I said let’s just arrive at the door and buy a ticket. At 8:30pm Friday, I caught up with the nice girl, (I arrived super drunk, I drank a tad wee bit too much most days then), at the door.
To my horror, I found out that the concert was sold out. This makes total sense now. Undeterred, I spoke to the guardians of the crib.
‘Hey Mate, Hoz Uz all doin. I'm frum Orstray-lya - is thar any chinz I kun git a ticket?'. You get the drift, I hammed up the Aussie factor, in the hope of inducing sympathy for me - a super drunk 20-year-old with a fanatical look in my eye.
‘Oh Australia. Sorry fella. Full house. Show’s sold out’.
I was devastated. But, I wasn’t done. I loitered forlornly near the door. Smiling wistfully at the people rushing in. ‘Hey, have a great night.’ ‘Yep, enjoy’.
My sympathy fiddle was playing loudly and getting louder. I went full passive aggressive, using all the emotional cards in my pocket - sadness, humour, frustration. For some reason unbeknownst to me, the big dude had a change of heart.
‘Since you have traveled so far to see this concert, may as well come in'. (Of course, I told him that I flew out from Australia the day before just to see this 500 person concert). It was by any means necessary at the time.
Elated. I rushed in. When I arrived inside, with my cold and tolerance-wearing-thin date, I quickly grabbed us a drink. (Of course).
We were at the end of the support acts gig, a funny local band called Chix-Diggit. As soon as they finished, I steamrolled my way to the front. Bumping and jostling. First date in tow. Front row. Smelly bar. In touching distance to the mic stand. All eyes on Bob. House lights went down.
Bob stumbled onto stage. He looked annoyed - as he usually does. Rather than greet the audience, he said, ‘Where the hell am I? I just woke up and can’t remember which city I’m in. I’ve been flying everywhere’.
Classic Bob. He could do no wrong. He started his acoustic set and the audience was quiet as he screamed his lyrics.
A few songs in, I yelled. “Hey Bob, Play “Walls in Time” - one of my favourite songs. He tried to pick a few chords, then said ‘Sorry man, I can’t remember the chords. I am dumb like that’. (He said that, for real).
By the end of the concert, my date - which was really anything but - was saying she wanted to leave (really sorry for her, though we did have sex later, so that was weird, too. I must have recovered or she had ulterior motives for standing hours through a Bob Mould concert looking miserable).
After the concert, I loitered as Bob was packing up the set. Again, I bowled over all the other people waiting patiently to talk to him.‘Hey Bob, when are you coming to Australia’.
‘Hey Bob, why didn’t you play that song?'.
‘Hey Bob, that’s your best work, why did you say bad things about that in that interview. You shouldn’t do that’.
Bob moved from answering politely my first question to having a worried look on his face like he might need to call security.
It was getting late. Bob quickly packed up his gear and exited the stage.I was mesmerised. I had not only met my hero. He truly loved me and thought I was a legend (or so my twisted, drunken 20-year brain thought).
Those were magical times.It was a great evening. Great concert. A twisted triumph.
Decades later, I still pay ‘Walls in Time’ regularly. It brings back memories of that cold night in Vancouver, listening to Bob, and feeling the music.