What do you do when one of your favorite bands of all time finally comes to town several years past when you should really care? This happened more recently for me with the Police on their reunion tour--a band I have always loved and wanted to see live, but who I gave up on in the late 80s and who decided to tour 20 years too late. Curve was absolutely one of my favorite acts in the early 90s and in fact all through college. By 1998, however, they'd ceased being near the center of my musical world and they had started to slip into that ether of bands that once released records that moved me that either no longer existed or existed only to frustrate me. Curve's post Cuckoo material isn't terrible by any means, but Come Clean was not the record that Cuckoo or Doppelganger had been--it wasn't a classic, genre-twising and defining piece of greatness. Curve it seemed had not learned the My Bloody Valentine lesson that says "sometimes when you make a classic record, you just stop because you can't top it." For me, Cuckoo is every bit as important as Loveless.
Past their prime and on the heels of a major label deal, a failed Bond theme song, and money sunk into a rare North American tour, Curve rolled into Atlanta right around the time that I moved here. I was excited beyond belief to see them until I actually SAW them. I should note that this was 10 years ago and that I've matured a bit in my perception of these kinds of things, but wow, it was kind of depressing to see my favorite band take the stage looking like old people. I have no idea how old they were, but clearly Dean was struggling with the rigor of playing on stage every night and Toni did not look like the sveldt vixen I'd always imagined. It's incredibly shallow to want your rock star idols to wow with you with that sex appeal and effortless charisma, and I've since divorced myself from those kinds of needs, but at the time, I was just incredibly disappointed that Curve looked like my aunt and uncle!
This was the first time that I really dealt with the idea of live music and rock music in particular being a young person's game. It had never really occurred to me that at some point I would start to catch up to and then surpass the age of the performers that I admire. I wasn't close to catching Toni and Dean in age, but seeing people that I idolized in my relative youth as aging and possibly over-the-hill adults who looked as out of place at a rock show as my professors from college really got me thinking. It illuminated the way that music performance is in many ways just selling that youthful, sexy, rebellious, and cooler-than-normal-people vibe that separates the performers from the audience. I've never thought much about that myself as I've performed, but as I get older now and I go to see bands or I play shows with performers who are five to ten years younger than I am, I start to get it. I've never thought of myself as the old and uncool dude who still gets up on the stage, but then I'm sure Dean didn't either at that point. Still, there will come some moment where I will realize that not only am I too old for all the ridiculous gyrations of being in a band, but that audiences will SEE that I'm too old for that and they'll wonder why I keep trying to be hip.
Maybe it helps to never try to be hip. Maybe it also helps to just make music that you love and that moves you and to care fuckall about what anyone thinks about how old you are or how cool you look or about how well you keep up with the kids and their Mac Book Pros. I know that I still love making and sometimes performing music. I know that I also don't NEED to perform it for people enough to put up with sleeping on sofas covered in cat hair for two weeks. I'm happy with my life and with the music that I make, and I want to keep sharing it with people as long as they want to hear it. I hope that I never look like that out of touch guy, but I guess that as long as I'm in touch with what I'm trying to do, the rest doesn't really matter.
To this day I still listen to Curve on a regular basis. I imagine that they are long past the touring days and I know that their latest records have continued to have a few great moments sprinkled among a lot of just OK ones. Still, I hope that they too keep on doing whatever it is they want to do no matter what us kids think of how funny they look trying to rock out through the chorus of "Fait Accompli." As long as they love it, that's good enough for me these days.