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Off Key: Play those old songs one more time

 by Ben Horowitz
 published on Thursday, March 2, 2006

Horowitz/issues/arts/696064
Horowitz
 

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Since I moved to the Valley my freshman year, my favorite place to hang out has been Modified Arts in downtown Phoenix. It's on the corner of Third and Roosevelt streets, in an area that is a stark contrast to the spotless dorm I moved into and the clean streets of Tempe.

For the first year or so after I started going there, I noticed an older guy named Joe at a lot of the shows. He wasn't someone who was easy to miss. In the midst of all the black shirts and tight jeans at hardcore shows and thrift-store chic at indie shows, he'd be sitting in the same place in the corner, in a polo shirt and slacks.

Whether the band was screaming their lungs out or offering sweet serenades, he would sit, listening, sometimes eyes closed, sometimes swaying side to side.

I don't get out to Modified as much as I used to, and when I do, he isn't there anymore. A mutual friend told me he lives in either Portland or South America now. I talked to him a few times when he frequented the venue, but never anything more than idle chatter. I wish I'd talked to him more.

Maybe if I had, I'd have some idea why it is that people seem to stop caring about music once they hit age 30 or so.

Don't get me wrong, there are certainly exceptions. Plenty of bands are made up of people past their expected mid-life crises.

But why is it the vast majority of people who make it out to shows are twenty-something's and teenagers brave enough to challenge their curfew?

I'm sure babies play a big part in it. Someone has to further the species, after all, and I'm definitely glad it's usually those with a couple years on me and my friends.

Then there's the whole "job" thing. Still, I almost always have morning classes, and I never have a problem going through a day exhausted if it means the night before was spent rocking away.

So, why is there a point where people decide to buy nothing but the newest greatest hits album from their old favorite band?

I think it has more to do with the inevitable jaded feeling that I find myself sinking into lately. It's that sick sensation you get after you see a group of girls come into a show talking about how they hope they will get to hook up with the lead singer, or when you observe the guys hanging around the back ogling those same girls.

Maybe it's the nights spent watching the dance floor shape into a hierarchy that seems right out of high school.

If I could talk to the guy from Modified, I'd ask him if this simultaneous feeling of self-righteousness and self-loathing comes with age, or if I'm just getting tired of the occasional oppressive superficiality of the music world.

The world is the place it was when I first discovered the strange new arena of punk rock. The world is still the same place as it was when I ventured to the strange new venues of indie and hip-hop.

Maybe I'm the only one who's changed -- or maybe it's just getting harder and harder to hear the music over the gossip.

Reach the reporter at benjamin.horowitz@asu.edu.



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