I was forced to go to church at an early age, but not early enough that I accepted it. I have never been a fan of church – I hated the kids in Sunday School/Confirmation quite a bit. They were all friends, rich kids mostly, having gone to the same school for years. I was an outsider. They let me know, too, in the typical bully/mean girl fashion. I took it, because if anything, I was respectful. I wasn’t going to beat up a kid in church, even though I wanted to so bad. I had been in enough fights; I knew I could easily kick the crap out of these kids. Church was important to my parents, however, and even though I hated myself for not doing anything, I let it slide.
The only time I enjoyed going to church was to see a particular reverend – I’ll call him Doc. Doc was a big man, a passionate man. When he got to talking about something he was passionate about in a sermon, his entire bald head got red; he was sweating and yelling. Preaching. And to me, everything made sense. I could see why people went to church then – he was an alarm, a reminder call from the front desk. The message was clear – stop being an asshole (or in my favorite summation of being a good person from the pages of Preacher – You have to be good, Jesse, because there is too many of the bad). Even if I disagreed with him on occasion, I believed in his values. It wasn’t so much about going to Hell, as it was to be the very best that you could be.
Now, Doc had taken over the Confirmation class when I was going, and I fell into the party line. This was a man I respected, and I wanted to do my best for him. When we all had to write a statement of faith, mine was chosen to be read publicly in front of the entire congregation. Afterwards, he always shook my hand firmly, and remembered my name. I’d leave church having arrived feeling like a fake (still do), but leaving feeling like a person who believed in people, that people can make this world a better place. I’d leave smiling.
This is how I left the Pixies concert Saturday night: grinning ear-to-ear. To me, this concert was like going to a religious gathering to remember our adolescence (intentionally by the band or not). The Pixies were not my favorite band at that age; I was more into hip-hop. I discovered the Pixies in college, and it was like I missed out on a section of life completely, as if you had forgotten a whole section on your SATs. The music sounded like high school to me (probably an echoing feedback from my friends listening to them). Every time I hear them, I fondly go back to the beginning of the 90s. I was in GenAd, surrounded by a generation of misfits, young and old.
Frank Black was there too, and he shook and raised hell like Doc, leading us to a place where we weren’t alone. He didn’t tell us everything was going to be alright; he told us the truth, some of it grim, but some was good. Like Doc, the Pixies kind of snuck in under the radar, and if you were listening to the screaming, you subverted. You couldn’t help it. You were right there with them, ready to preach on to whomever you could, because it is thankless work spreading the word.
Doc pissed off a lot of people, had a heart attack and retired shortly after I was confirmed. I’m glad the Pixies didn’t stay retired, even if it is only for a tour or two.
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