2016: A Year’s Worth of Memories (Elise Okusami)
by Steven Spoerl
Heartbreaking Bravery recently went offline but all facets of the site are back to being fully operational. Apologies for any inconveniences. All posts that were slated to run during that brief hiatus will appear with this note.
As part of Laetita Tamko’s Vagabon project and as the bandleader of Oceanator, Elise Okusami has become a very familiar name to this site over the past few years. “Nowhere Nothing“, a standout Oceanator song, would’ve cracked this site’s list of best songs had Okusami not graciously allowed its usage for the A Step Forward compilation. It’s a song that’s resonated since its introduction and one that’s pulled this site even further into Okusami’s orbit. Below, the multi-talented musician recalls a Wolf Parade show at McCarren Park that led to a wellspring of genuine emotion. It’s a beautiful reminder of the power of music and can be read below. Enjoy.
I’d been getting lazy about going places. I might have still been trying to shake off that winter funk, even though it was June already. Once I was at work, at home, wherever, I tended to stay put, unable to generate any sort of inertia to go to a new location. So, even though I’d been planning for months to go to this Wolf Parade show in McCarren Park – especially after being super bummed when all five of their Bowery Ballroom shows sold out even though I was online, ready to buy the minute they went on sale (this keeps happening, the robots are taking over and ruining everything already) – I still found myself leaning on the bar at work and chatting with a coworker when I should have been heading to the show.
The friends I thought were going had all bailed, so I was in the process of bailing, too, when four friends texted me at once asking me why I wasn’t there. I literally shoved my backpack under my desk at work, got on my bike, and raced to the park. It wasn’t far, but I still made it in my personal record time, not even taking the time to plug in my headphones and queue up any music for the trip. I was jittery and nervous as the line moved forwards, worrying that any second they were going to cut it off and say the show was too full, but my worries were unfounded. I got in easily, and found my friends all the way up at the front as the opening band was still playing.
As much as I had, and still do, love Apologies to the Queen Mary, I had never taken the leap into their other albums. I knew every song and every moment of that album, but not too much of the other ones. That didn’t take away from the experience any. I am shy, most of the time. Especially in large groups. But at this show I found myself dancing, not worrying about what I looked like or what anyone around me thought.
I cried, literally, when the band dropped out and the piano played its riff alone in the middle of “Animal in Your Care“, before the rest of the band came back in. Seeing them perform, seeing how much fun they were having, how excited they were by the size of the crowd even as, what I definitely consider, a pretty huge band, only added to the experience. It’s the way I hope to always feel about music – happy to be where I am, enjoying the performance, and being appreciative of the opportunity to do so.
That feeling was something I took with me all summer. I’m still not entirely sure why that concert moved me more than any of the other shows I’d been to this past year – and there have been some absolutely fantastic ones. Something about that one really stuck out, though. It couldn’t have come at a better time for me, pulling me out of a funk and launching me into summer, and even sticking with me now.