I am talking about the Relient K concert. But first I am going to tell you a story. It’s a story about why this band means so goddamn much to me.
The first Relient K song I heard was Falling Out. I was maaybe 13, I think probably closer to 12. My sister, who had brought the album Two Lefts Don’t Make A Right… But Three Do home from her adventures with her totally way cooler than me friends, and I kind of instantly fell in love. I listened to that album not stop that year. I knew all the words to all the songs, even the one written in Gibberish. The album seemed to fit me perfectly; it was silly and fun, but still talked about God in a way that I related to at the time.
When I was in high school Mmhmm came out. Again, I listened to the album non-stop. It was a new side of Relient K, different from Two Lefts; the songs were deeper, sadder, right at the time when my teenage angst really connected with them. At the same time, though, the album maintained a kind of optimistic view; things are sunny with a High of 75, things will get better, which really connected with my personality.
Five Score and Seven Years Ago came out the year I graduated high school. It was sunny, and poppy, and produced by a major record label, but it was undercut by deeply melancholy ballads. I gobbled it up, the album matched my up and down moods of perfect happiness and crippling worry about the future.
A whole two years later Forget and Not Slow Down was released. The band was a different band and I was a different person. I was slowly becoming more and more interested in music, slowly letting my doubts creep in around the edges, and Forget underlined that for me. The lyrics are less literal than previous songs, the music more target-specific than the previous pop-punk stuff they’d done in the past and it seemed to just fit the transition that I had gone through as a person.
And now, four long years later we have a new album again. And again the band is different and so am I. Collapsible Lung is amazing, but if you listened to Relient K’s début album and then their most recent, you wouldn’t be able to tell they were the same band. We’ve both changed. We’re both more sympathetic to the “ways of the world”, less judgemental, smarter, more fun to be around.
There was a time when I thought that Two Lefts would be my favourite album forever. I think I maybe even wrote that in a blog here somewhere. The album is still so dear to my heart. It represents a time for me where I became aware of how important music is. A time where music was really all I had in some ways. It makes sense that Mmhmm is now my least-loved of the Relient K albums, even their début and sophomore albums which I didn’t listen to until much later after they’d been released. Each album represents a part of my life, in a way. I don’t listen to Mmhmm as much anymore because it reminds me of the person I was in high school, and at times I really don’t like that person. Forget is the most technically talented album out there, it might have ousted Two Lefts as a favourite. But every so often I put on Two Lefts and listen to it all the way through like I used to. And I still know all the words to all the songs. And it’s okay for me to be that kid again.
Which brings me to the concert. Matt Thiessen, who I jokingly refer to on this blog as a God among Men, declared it Flashback Friday. And they played all the best songs from Two Lefts. And I didn’t care about getting kicked in the head. And I got to be goofy with my brother. And then they played three new songs from Collapsible Lung and I could be the person I am now, and the person I was then. Because they are the same person. I’m still me. Especially when I am with Relient K.