I still remember the first time I heard about Streetlight Manifesto. It was 2007 and I was sitting in my high school science lab during class flipping through our cities local street-press. I was casually flipping through the pages when I turned to a full page flyer that made my 16 year old heart skip a beat. On both sides of the page in big, bold fonts were the logo’s for two bands playing an upcoming show that December; Less Than Jake & Reel Big Fish. Being the young ska/punk fan that I was, I become beyond excited at the chance of seeing these two acts tear it up together on the same bill. Once I had regathered my head from that initial rush of excitement I noticed that the poster had one other logo on it as well, in a considerably smaller font, deceivingly suggesting that of unimportance. Sandwiched somewhere in the between of the two headlining behemoths lay another bands logo, and it was here that I first read that band name; Streetlight Manifesto.
I carefully tore the flyer out of the magazine and proudly stuck it up on my bedroom wall where I would admire it each day in anticipation of the upcoming concert. As the days grew closer, and after exhausting myself from playing LTJ & RBF non-stop for those last couple of weeks, I decided to jump on youtube to look up this Streetlight Manifesto. Anticipating to achieve nothing more than learning a couple of choruses that I could half-heartedly sing along to during their support slot, whilst all the while secretly wishing that the main course would be served already, I clicked on the first result that came up; Everything Went Numb. To this day, never have I fallen for a band so quickly than how I did during those opening seconds of that sax intro. Once the song had finished I clicked on a track in the related videos section; Point/Counterpoint. Expecting that first song to be somewhat of a one off, I was incredibly impressed when I liked this track as much (…maybe even more) as I did Numb. Going through related video after related video I felt that excitement rise deep in my stomach, that feeling that is only ever evoked when musicianship and lyricism come together so beautifully and resonate so perfectly with who you are and your own personal beliefs. Or to say it in a far less pretentious way; it felt special.
The day of the show finally came. We all coalesced, got into our uniforms, applied our war paint and marched into battle. A few cheeky beers set the mood just right and we all piled into the venue. The club was packed shoulder to shoulder and the anticipation was so tangible that you could nearly bite into it. The excitement rose to that point where you feel that your whole being might spontaneously combust if they made you wait any longer. But just as that moment approached, Kalnoky and his merry band of thieves took to the stage to a thunderous applause. Two chimes of the hi-hat from Thatcher was all it took for the band to explode into We Will Fall Together. Now when I say explode, not a more appropriate word comes to mind. The horns blared at a phenomenal volume, the drums flared in an incredible pace, the pit opened wide as the crowd was possessed to the point of frenzy. I dived head first into the pit and there I stayed for the remainder of their set. The energy never let up their once and by the time they had played through their criminally short opening band slot I’d forgotten that there was two other bands to come, the likes of which I barely even cared about anymore! The rest of the show was great though. At the end of the night, as we all reminisced on the car ride home, each mentally replaying the show in our own heads, the consensus was the same for each of us; Less Than Jake played great, Reel Big Fish were alright, but it was Streetlight Manifesto that blew everyone away. Streetlight Mani-fuckin-festo, we all decided, was a force to be reckoned with. I spent the next days after that concert gathering as many songs and albums of theirs that I possibly could and Streetlight quickly became one of my favourite bands.
I didn’t get to see Streetlight again until 2011. When they finally announced that they were coming back to my city I went and got tickets for me and my mates the day they were released, anticipating that it would sell out in mere seconds! It didn’t (I don’t think it actually sold out until the night of the show - but there was no goddam way I would’ve risked missing that show). Unlike that first time I saw them, I was now well versed in basically every word of every Streetlight song (and every Kalnoky related project). This time they were headlining and playing at this club in the city called Enigma Bar. I was heaps excited for this, due not only to the much longer set that they would play, but because Enigma Bar is a tiny venue relative to where they’d played last time. On top of this, the stage is maybe about a foot tall, if that, and there is no security barrier. With the slew of amazing bands, and fuckin’ amazing nights, seen and had at this place before, I knew that it was going to be very special.
In 2011 I was in my final year of my Bachelors degree at university and that Streetlight show happened to land on one of the greatest weekends I reckon I had that year. The Friday night was the pub crawl for my uni course, on the Saturday night one of the greatest Australian 3rd wave ska bands, Area 7, played and then the Sunday night was the Streetlight gig. Needless to say a lot of beer and other substances were consumed over the course of that weekend. After a bit of searching I managed to dig up a great photo from that Sunday night show.
To this day, this has been the best gig that I have ever been to in my life, no contest. That’s me right in the middle with the green caddy cap on, my mate Harry to my right (who I went to that first Streetlight concert with) and behind us my mates Stefan and Jamie (with the blue and gold mohawks, respectively). We were front and centre from the start of that set to the end, and I sang every word as loud as I possibly could. Everything about that night was amazing. Seeing a band that meant so much to me that up close and personal was such a rare treat, I knew that even then. I found some footage I recorded from that night and even I forgot just how close they were, we were literally right up in their face (It had been a long time since I’d watched this and I noticed that I had the goofiest smile forming across my face and some serious goosebumps happening whilst I was watching! Here’s some bonus videos, just cause it’s too great not to share - Would You Be Impressed? and Forty Days).
The show came to an end and after a couple more beers it was time to call it a night. Harry and I got a lift back home from his girlfriend. We were still buzzing from the amazing performance we had just witnessed and we reminisced and replayed the night over again on the ride home, just like we had all those years before. It’s funny how much had changed within that time yet here we were, essentially excited 16 year old kids again, going on about how great the band we just saw were. It’s great how things can be constant like that, it’s sometimes nice to have an anchor in a sea of change.
I was living in Alberta, Canada when Streetlight announced their final two shows of their final tour; The End Of The End Of The Beginning. I had just finished my morning shift working as a waiter for a hotel in the Canadian Rockies and, as I did after my shifts, took an hour or so to just sit on our couch and relax on my computer. I stumbled across the post by Streetlight announcing their final two shows in their home town of New Jersey at the Starland Ballroom on the 15th and 16th of November. They had said that they would be playing all of their original catalogue over these two nights. I remember at the end of one of their previous North American tours that they’d played two consecutive Starland Ballroom shows; one night dedicated to playing Everything Goes Numb in it’s entirety, and the other to Somewhere In The Between (this was long before The Hands That Thieve had been released). I had watched every song they played at those two shows on youtube via crappy camera recordings that people had uploaded and I’d thought what an amazing couple of nights they must have been to experience. I was jealous of every single person at those shows.
The idea crept into my head, but I dismissed it pretty quickly. But I thought about it some more, and then some more again. The more I thought about it, the more it seemed plausible. In the grand scheme of things I was actually pretty close to New Jersey, well… I mean, I was closer than I’d be if I was back in Australia. It was June at this point and the shows were in November, plenty of time to get over to the other side of North America right? I started formulating a bit of a plan and eventually convinced myself. Sitting on that couch I bought tickets to both those shows then and there. Really, the worse that could happen is I lose 50 bucks and give the tickets to someone who really wanted them anyway, either way someone’s very stoked. I was pretty new to Canada at this point, I had arrived in May and had a 12 month contract with this hotel that I was working in. Even before I left home I knew there was no way that I was gonna last one year in the one place when there was such a huge country to explore. I mean, I had been there about a month and was already getting very, very restless to get out there and start exploring some more. I had no real plan when I first landed up in Canada, but I started to formulate one a bit once I had got there. I figured that I’d do a couple of months in the Rockies, then head West back to Vancouver for a while, then slowly start heading over towards the East coast. But the moment I’d bought those tickets I threw all of that out the window. I started working on a new plan.
August eventually rolled around and I bought a train ticket to Toronto and a week later gave my two weeks at my job. I don’t really like to admit it, but the truth is about 99% of the reason I moved from the Rockies out East to the big smoke was because I knew it would mean that I would actually have a chance of getting to these final Streetlight shows. It also meant that I’d be able to hit up the Toronto leg of the same tour, so once I had my train ticket, I immediately went and got another Streetlight ticket.
The Toronto show was great, don’t get me wrong, but that being said, out of all the times I’ve seen them this was my least favourite. It is by no fault of the band or the venue, let me establish that straight away. I don’t know what it’s a fault of really… if it was a result of the crowd or just that I didn’t having my mates arm in arm, beer in hand, singing along with me. One of the main problems for me was that the crowd was constantly getting up on stage, to the point where it was clearly interfering with the band and their performance. It also seemed like the same three goddam guys were constantly stage diving, like they would jump off, get straight back on the stage and repeat indefinitely. Now I love stage diving as much as the next guy, it’s one of my favourite parts of a punk show, but fuuuck it gets to a point where I wanna grab these guys and shout at them that I’m there to see a band, not carry their sweaty ass around all goddam night ya know? Maybe I’m just getting older and more cynical, who knows. At one point, one of ‘em jumped off and clocked me head first right into my head and I had to drag myself out of the pit for a couple of songs to recalibrate. It was kinda good that happened though, I enjoyed the show a lot more when I was back a bit. It’s refreshing to step back and get a bit of perspective once in a while. It also allowed me to get some good footage of Mike Brown’s solo in Toe to Toe, one of my favourite moments in the entire album of The Hands That Thieve.
With all this being said, it was a great show and a great night. After a bit of a breather I managed to get back up front as they launched into my favourite part of the night, a killer rendition of It’s a Wonderful Life. Plus, they had Brian from A Wilhelm Scream filling in on bass which was pretty damn badass, I’d seen them earlier in the year in Adelaide and then a couple of months before in Edmonton so that was cool.
The Toronto show eventually came to a close, I got my jumper from the coat check, left the venue dripping with sweat, walked to the subway station and caught the next train back to my house.
I lived in Toronto for a couple of months but, long story short, my situation there kinda went belly up pretty suddenly. By this time Streetlight had announced that they would be doing a third night for their final shows and so I’d gotten another ticket for that and organized the bus down from Toronto to New York City to get to New Jersey. But now I had to find another place to live pretty damn quickly. Toronto is an expensive city to live in so I started looking elsewhere. I found a place up in Ottawa and so I moved up there. November creeped around and those final shows were approaching, but as I’d already gotten my bus ticket from Toronto, it meant that I now had to get back down there. I left Ottawa on the morning of Nov 13th, caught the bus down to Toronto & had about a 5 hour transfer to kill. Finally, I borded my next bus. The bus went from Toronto to Buffalo to Syracuse and, by about 8am the next morning, the bus was rolling on into New York City. After an amazing day of exploring NYC (it really was a perfect, sunny, brisk autumn day and I spent hours walking around as much of the city that I possibly could) I realized I’d lost track of time pretty bad. I went to the train station and bought a ticket for the next train into New Jersey.
I’d organized to stay with some blokes I’d found on a Streetlight Manifesto forum who were heading down from upstate NY for the same shows. When the train rolled into New Brunswick I was already way behind my schedule. My initial plan was to walk down and meet up with the guys at the hotel they were staying at but I had nowhere near enough time for that. My phone hadn’t been in service since I left Canada so I went and stole some wi-fi from the coffee shop up on the corner and found a pay phone to call the guys up on. We agreed that we’d just meet up at the show. The thing about the Starland Ballroom though, is that it seems to be in the middle of fucking nowhere, so I had to jump into a cab to get down there. The cabby ripped me off pretty badly (serves me right for having an accent I guess) but it didn’t matter, I had made it, I was there. It felt surreal as I saw STREETLIGHT MANIFESTO plastered on the screen below the Starland Ballroom sign. I let out a deep breath of relief, took a moment just to take it all in, then walked through the parking lot to join the que for the entrance that was now forming around the corner of the venue.
As I’d come straight from the train station I still had all my gear on me, so all night I was luggin’ around my backpack with my laptop and all my clothes in it. After emptying my bag for the security guard at the door and repacking it, in front of everyone, I finally got in. I had actually made it with pretty good time, the first opener was still playing his set. Pushing my way through the already packed venue, I made it to the bar area and started knocking back the Budweisers. I figured I should probably start looking for these guys who I was meant to be staying with. I had told them that I’d be hanging around the bar and that I was wearing black pants and a grey jacket. I quickly realized that this description of myself offered very little assistance for identifying me in this crowd. I also realized that I’d forgotten what their names were. Having no phone or internet, I started trying to recall the messages we’d sent through to each other, I thought that I kinda recalled that one of their names was Kyle…? So that was all that I had to go on to find this group of guys in a sold out venue with a 2500 person capacity. The first opener had finished and Dan Potthast was taking to the stage. I had a bit of a buzz from the beers & I came up with what I thought was a pretty damn ingenious plan to try and find them (it wasn’t). I would walk around and pretend to recognize people. I’d find a group of people who looked like the kinda guys that would have a random couchsurfer stay with them and I’d tap one of them on the shoulder. ‘Kyle?’ I’d enquire, pretending as though they were an old friend I used to go to school with that I hadn’t seen for years and just happened to bump into. They’d of course say ‘what?’ or ‘no’, and I’d play it off like it was a mistake; ‘oh, you really look like a guy I used to know’ or ‘sorry, I thought you were someone else’ (I did get into a couple of interesting conversations with people as a result of this though). After trying this strategy entirely too many times with absolutely no luck (I’m pretty sure people were starting to notice and thought that I was either a bit insane or just pissed up) I gave up. Toh Kay was now due to come out and play a short set so I figured I would just enjoy that and then worry about it all afterwards. With my jacket on and my backpack slung over my shoulder I made my way from the bar area down onto the floor.
Toh Kay came on stage and played a short set of about five songs. I could have watched him play for hours. The songs are so simple, just chords on an acoustic guitar and some singing over the top, but they mean so much. There was so much love in that room for that man, everyone was singing in unison, word for word, at the top of their lungs, as if we were all the one entity. The performance wasn’t someone playing and a crowd watching, it transcended that, everyone in that room was part of that performance, everyone in that room was on stage with him. It was a great thing to be a part of (during Somewhere In The Between a girl standing next to me said that I was a really good singer, I’m still about 80% sure that she meant it and wasn’t just making fun of me).
Once Toh Kay had finished I made my way back up to the bar. Still buzzing from the performance, I wasn’t really that bothered anymore with working out what I was going to do after the show. I got another Bud and started talking to this bloke about music or something (the night was starting to get a bit hazy by this point). Midway through the conversation I felt a tap on my shoulder & I turned around. ‘Aussie?’ this guy asks me. It turns out that the guys who I was gonna stay with had been up the road at the pub and had only just gotten to the venue. Apparently their plan for finding me was a lot less subtle than mine was for finding them, they were walking through the venue shouting ‘Aussie’ as loud as they could in hopes that I would hear them. I felt relieved that it had all worked out. As I was getting to know the guys, the Budweiser’s started flowing faster and faster. As I had all my gear with me I’d decided that I would watch the show from up at the bar area and then get down front and centre for the following two nights. The crowd started chanting, almost tauntingly, ‘streeeetlight, streeeeeeetlight…’, the atmosphere was electric. When Streetlight finally took to the stage they kicked off with a mighty boom as they launched into their first track; Dear Sergio.
The first night was a set made up from songs in Streetlights catalogue that were rarely played live (Such Great Heights & Your Day Will Come saw their live debuts at this show). Even from up in the bar area everyone was dancing, moshing and singing along to the songs, the atmosphere was phenomenal. After they played Riding the Fourth Wave (with some of the finest horn solos I’ve ever witnessed) it became too much to resist and I just had to dive into the pit, backpack and all. The rest of the night flew by entirely too fast as each song brought me closer ot the front. By their last song I was on the barrier. As the Streetlight boys finished up and walked off stage and the venue started to clear out I met up outside with the upstate NY crew. We all jumped in a cab and headed back to the hotel they were staying at. They had managed to fit a good portion of the 120 beers that they’d bought into the little hotel fridge and openly shared their beers and stories with me as we all drank, talked and ate pizza well into the morning. Eventually everyone found their little corner and passed out.
I woke up the following morning somewhat disoriented but feeling surprisingly good. It didn’t take long for a round of beers to be distributed from the seemingly endless supply in that minibar fridge and that pretty much kicked off the day. After a while we all left the hotel to head back into New York City. The day was spent being driven all around NYC, seeing Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan, getting a great in depth tour and even getting dinner bought for me at this fantastic Vietnamese place (the kindness and generosity of people who I’ve barely met has continued to surprise me non-stop throughout my time spent travelling, it really makes your heart sing a little bit). As with the previous day, time quickly got away from us and by the time we got back to the hotel we were already running pretty late. By this point out of the crew of 6 of us from the previous night, we were down to just 3 for the second night; Evan, Kyle and myself. We chugged as many beers as we could as quickly as we could and headed back into the middle of nowhere to the Starland Ballroom. When we got there it was eerily quiet in the full parking lot. There was no line to get in this time, and the only people standing outside were the security guards. As we were walking to the door I heard that ever familiar sax intro, still just like it was that first time I heard it back in 2007, somewhat faint through the walls of the venue. Realizing that they were starting to play I ran to the front door and got in just in time to see the end of Everything Went Numb (luckily it was their first song of the night so we barely missed anything). This night was dedicated to the early years of the SM catalogue. They played every track from Everything Goes Numb and about half of Somewhere in the Between. At one point in the night they got two of their old members up (‘ghosts of Streetlight’s past’ as Kalnoky put it) and launched into an epic version of If and When We Rise Again with a horn section now consisting of two trombones, a trumpet and an alto, tenor and bari sax, complete with a solo at the end for each before finally ripping into the ‘Summertime’ (and the living’s easy) riff. I went to take a photo of it but didn’t, I decided that moment was just gonna be for me to enjoy wholly in that instance, and that instance alone. The set seemed a lot longer than the one the night before & I definitely enjoyed it far more (the first photo of this entry at the top of the blog was taken at this second show, just FYI). They played as relentless and as tight as I’d ever seen them before. They came back on for the obligatory encore and appropriately finished the night off with The Big Sleep. Again, we headed back to the hotel, ordered some more pizza and got stuck into those beers again. It was well into the morning when we finally passed out for the second time.
Once I woke up I was immediately struck by disappointment that the final show had come around so quickly. I was definitely feeling rougher compared to the previous morning but after a couple of beers I felt that I could find the energy somewhere inside me for this last show. Both Evan and Kyle were heading back upstate that day and only Kyle was heading back down for the final show. I’d organized a place to stay that night from a couchsurfing website with a bloke called Miguel. We gathered all our gear from the hotel and the guys dropped me off at a coffee shop somewhere in New Brunswick. After a discrete puke in a trash can at the back of the coffee shop I set off to work out where the hell I was actually meant to be going. I set off in the general direction of where I thought Miguel’s place was but by the time I had passed the twenty-nth Mexican restaurant I gave in and got a cheap but amazing burrito. I found a pay-phone on the corner up the road from the Mexican joint and tried to give a buzz to Miguel to let him know I was coming. I tried to call a couple of times but didn’t get any answer, so I figured that I’d just walk to his place (we’d talked a couple of days before so he was expecting me). I immediately hit it off with Miguel. Once we’d exchanged pleasantries and talked about the city and what I’d gotten up to whilst I’d been back down in the States, we started talking about music. He showed me some projects and recordings that he’d been working on and, in turn, I showed him some of my bands from back home (as I’m typing this and thinking back on these couple of days, and all the people I met, I can’t help but appreciate a quote that has stuck with me from Irvine Welsh’s book Glue; “That’s the thing aboot music, if yir really intae it, ye can go anywhere in the world and feel like you’ve goat long-lost mates within a couple ay hours”). After walking down to the bottle-o and grabbing some beers, some mates of Miguel’s came round. A few rounds of Smash Bros on the N64 and a couple of beers later I was definitely keening back up for a big night. That night in the basement of their house they were putting on a show with some local bands, he showed me around the basement as some people were setting up the drums and some amps and it was as DIY as it comes. It was fantastic. I was kinda disappointed that I wouldn’t be around to check it out, by the sounds of it they had a cool little scene happening in New Brunswick. Miguel drove me out to the Starland and for the final time I stood with a bittersweet anticipation in that line for the entrance.
I had gotten to the venue earlier than I had the previous two nights and re-took my residence in the Starland’s bar area as the first opening act was getting ready to take to the stage. I felt a tap on my shoulder and turned around to see that Kyle and his girlfriend had arrived back down from upstate. We talked and drank and before too long it was yet again time for Dan Potthast to take up the stage. Standing there watching Dan P whilst sipping on my Bud I couldn’t help but appreciate the wave of déjà vu that washed over me. Kyle bought me a bunch of beers that night, it was so fuckin’ generous and it really spoke volumes about the people that support bands like Streetlight. When we go to these shows it isn’t just about seeing a band and then going home, it is about creating a community, creating a place where people feel at home, giving us something that belongs to us and giving us a place where we belong. I appreciated how privileged I was to be a part of all this and to have met such great people. After what felt like an eternity of waiting after Dan P’s set, the projector screen that had been blocking the stage finally started to rise, the lights dimmed down to almost darkness and being greeted with a deafening cheer Pete McCullough, Jim Conti, Mike Brown, Matt Stewart, Chris Thatcher, Nadav Nirenberg and Tomas Kalnoky took to the stage and launched into With Any Sort Of Certainty.
Out of the three nights this was my favourite by a mile. This is almost definitely because I’m much bigger fan of Streetlight’s later catalogue (Somewhere In The Between comfortably sits as my favourite album of all time). The set consisted of The Hands That Thieve in it’s entirety, the tracks from Somewhere In The Between that didn’t get played the previous night and a few cheeky surprises off of Everything Goes Numb, Keasbey Nights and even the odd Bandits of the Acoustic Revolution song. It was a long set and every second of it was monumental amounts of fun. Inevitably, the set drew to a close and they were barely even off the stage before the crowd started begging for more. Everyone knew that of course they were going to come back on for an encore but that didn’t affect the energy with which we all chanted for it, as if our lives were dependent on it. They came back on stage, took up there instruments and Kalnoky approached the microphone; ‘Let’s all savour these next few moments…’ he said with an ambivalence that resonated with everyone in the venue. He let his guitar ring out for a moment more before speaking again ‘I don’t wanna start, cause when we start we’re gonna have to end’. Taking one final pause he began the intro to The Big Sleep. As that drew epically to a close, Toh Kay, with an intense determination, declared ‘We’re not done!’ and went straight into 1234 1234. Knowing that this could be the last time we get to see this band play, we sat back, we smiled and this is what we sung, we sung; ‘woooooah’. With the horn section placing their instruments down to jump around the stage and pump out the sing along with as much ferocity as it seemed they could summon, it made for a very fitting penultimate song. The song finished and as the horn section reassembled arms Kalnoky addressed us for the last time; ‘This is actually, really it, the last song’ (in reality there was a lot more “really’s” and “actually’s” thrown in there), ‘But!’, he assured us, ‘We are not done for good… we are done for now’. With one final introduction of Christopher Thatcher and a short drum intro later, so began their final song; Somewhere In The Between. The last three shows (and I suppose the previous six years since first finding them back in 2007, and the journey across two continents, through three countries and countless miles to get to this place) had been leading up to this point, so I’m sure you could imagine what the atmosphere was like. I’ll spare us both the overbearing description with entirely too many clichéd adjectives, besides, a million synonyms would never come close to describe the feeling. But to pick one; it was awesome. Once Nirenberg and Conti had finished exchanging solos, the rhythm section fell silent and the horn section took over for their instrumental. Toh Kay gestured towards them and declared; ‘the Streetlight horn section… holy shit!’, we all cheered in complete agreement. With a long drawn out ending, the band put down their instruments, they hugged, took a bow and walked off the stage.
And that was it.
One of the things I’ve always loved about Streetlight is that they cut out so much of the bullshit that seems to be associated with what being a band supposedly means now days. When they play they keep the stage banter to a minimum to allow them to play as many songs as they can in their set time, they play as good live as they do on their recordings (better even), they seem like very down to earth guys, they don’t buy into publicity stunts or any of that nonsense to try and get attention. At the end of the day they are all phenomenal musicians who play great songs that people really connect with, so they don’t need to rely on any of that other non-music stuff. It’s refreshing and it’s untainted, and people really respond to them because of it. When they finished their encore on that third night, no one in the venue moved. Everytime I’d seen them play before they had only ever done one encore, so I really didn’t know if this time was going to be different because it was their last time. The crowd started chanting the usual, we started off with; ‘one more song!’, which eventually evolved into the classic ‘Olé.. olé, olé, olé’. After that we went to ‘streeetlight, streeeeeetlight’, I’m sure you get the picture, there were probably others too that I can’t remember. All in all, pretty standard chants to try to coax the band into playing one more track for us. But then something special happened, we had been chanting for what was probably about fifteen minutes with no sign of giving up when the crowd started a new one, stating exactly what everyone in the crowd was thinking; ‘WE’RE NOT LEAVING’, at a tremendous volume. They must have realized that we meant it because they eventually took to the stage again. They didn’t start playing another song, however, they did something even better in my opinion. They lined up arm in arm, and bowed, thanking us. In turn we thanked them, we started chanting ‘THANK YOU STREETLIGHT!' on and on and on again. They looked incredibly humbled and grateful and just… well, happy, I guess. They stood on stage and took in the love for a few minutes whilst we continued thanking them. After a couple more bows they left the stage for good. That last little bit of the night was my favourite moment from those past three days and it was amazing to be a part of.
The show had finished and we had no choice but to start filing out of the Ballroom. I went out into the parking lot and started looking around to find some people who I could hitch a ride into town with. I found a group of four blokes who had also come down from upstate NY who were jumping in a cab back to New Brunswick and said that I could jump in with them. As I watched the big Starland Ballroom sign disappear into the night as we rolled out of the parking lot and around the corner I started to get to know these guys. They didn’t really believe me when I told them that I’d come up all the way from Australia but I think I eventually convinced them. Naturally, the conversation turned to music. They told me about a couple of punk bands from up in their neck of the woods that I should check out and I started educating them on Australian punk rock, telling them to check out bands like Frenzal Rhomb and Bodyjar (as I type this I can’t help but think about that Irvine Welsh quote again). We talked all the way back into New Brunswick and completely per chance the cabby just happened to pass Miguels place where I was staying. We pulled over and I tried to chip in some cash by the guys wouldn’t let me. They finally managed to convince me to just let them pay for the cab as their treat. I thanked them, got out and they pulled back onto the road and drove off, onwards towards their hotel. I couldn’t help but smile as I thought about how inherently good natured and generous damn near everyone in this world has the capability to be. Even the littlest things like that can hold incredible weight and meaning to someone who’s in a strange place by themselves. By the time I’d gotten back to Miguel’s they’d finished the show that they had hosted down in the basement. So we had a couple of beers in the apartment above his with some of his mates and a cat that wouldn’t stop staring at me (seriously, I don’t think that it even blinked, it just sat there and stared deep into my soul, shit was weird). We went down to the pub for a couple of pitchers til they kicked us out and then walked back again. Once we got back I crashed out hard on the couch. The following morning we went and got some brekky and decided to drive down to Philadelphia. We spent the day down there before heading back to New Brunswick. From there we parted ways and I jumped on the train back to New York City, caught the bus back to Buffalo, then Toronto, then Ottawa and then a final bus back to my house.
That’s pretty much where this series of memories comes to a conclusion… I had a ticket to see Toh Kay play his first show with his acoustic trio back in NY in December but unfortunately I just couldn’t get back down there. I gave the ticket to Evan and Kyle though, so they got to use it which was good, I got to give a bit back for all the generosity they showed me. I guess the reason why I wrote all this was to document some of my thoughts and memories and allow me to reminisce on it all. It’s also my way of saying thank you to Kalnoky and the Streetlight boys for giving me the reasons, inspiration and ambition to go see and experience different parts of the world which allowed me to meet fascinating, like-minded people. Streetlight have given me some of the funnest, most memorable nights I’ve had and, as a result, inadvertently given me some amazing stories that I can now tell, be proud of and store in my head, if only for memories. So that’s my story done, but I’ll finish by stealing the words from a very wise man; I’m not done for good, I’m done for now.