Thursday, November 13, 2014

Throwback Thoughts

On this perpetual day of constant "throwbackiness", I reminisce about my first big time, real deal, concert. Many people will recall their first as a show they were dragged to by their parents. Something that may be good and timeless - say, The Beach Boys - but not their own taste. For me, my first was seeing a band I admired more than all the rest.

Even in elementary school I was a major pusher of their tunes. So much so, their albums were perpetually forced on my family to listen to on road trips. With my influence over the years, my dad turned into a fan, and it was around this time twelve years ago that he drove my friends and I to Seattle to see Tony, Adrian, Tom, and Gwen -  otherwise known collectively as No Doubt. At fourteen years old, I hadn't seen anything cooler.

Under the gorgeous, historic ceilings of The Paramount Theater, I still remember being in awe. There was that sense of excitement just over the fact that I was in the SAME ROOM as these people I idolized. That room included a couple thousand other people, yet the experience felt entirely personal. Even before the show started, my friends and I were bouncing around in the front row of the balcony, freaking out after spying Ms. Stefani dancing in the wings during the opening act. Even as a I get older, seeing people in "real life" is surreal. 

The entire show had that same big atmosphere. Everyone was up and dancing (even our chaperone - my dad - was being a "cool dad", getting out of his seat). Although, bopping along to all those fun, ska inspired rock/pop hits, can't compare to the deafening sounds of an entire theater chiming in all together to sing their classic ballad, "Don't Speak".

My souvenir t-shirt from that night is worn thin, but that Rock Steady print scarf (pictured above) is still in heavy rotation as an accessory. Whenever I wear it, I'm reminded of where it came from. I'll always have ties to No Doubt, even though over time their music has been hit or miss.

Stefani became heavily focused on a career outside the band. Her many huge hits (including the irritating "Hollaback Girl") continued to push the lead singer into a solo sensation. I may not be a fan of her biggest song to date, but I did love a lot of Stefani's other music and will always cheer her on.

After an underwhelming release by No Doubt in 2012, Stefani is back this fall doing her own thing again. With her seemingly caring nature combined with expansive music industry know-how, she is a perfect addition to the judging panel on The Voice. Plus, it just so happens that she has a new single.

Within just a couple beats, it is obvious that this a great pop track. The bad part - it's generically good. Anyone could be singing this song. Even when Stefani was singing about how "shit was bananas" and spelling out the fruit, it was a voice all her own. "Baby Don't Lie" has a little bit of that ska vibe, but the auto tune makes every singers voice sound the same. All originality is lost in the process.

I don't want to rip it to shreds, because I do think it's a really fun song and I'm happy to see Stefani in all her musician glory again. I guess all popular music these days just has to sound like that.

When you really think about it, the fact that even one of the members of No Doubt is still around is really beating the odds. There are endless bands to enjoy, and even if it is mostly Stefani who is still in the spotlight, she's been there for 20 years.

Mostly her continued popularity has to do with Stefani still exuding the same bad-ass, chic demeanor, that has made her an idol for women everywhere. It could also be that fans like me remain somewhat devoted.

Ultimately, no matter the year, anytime No Doubt wants to release new music, I will continue to give it a chance. Even if their tunes sometimes land outside of my taste-zone, we'll always have that night in Seattle.

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